united upgrades

Woah! United’s PlusPoints Upgrades Actually Worked Great!

Well….I’m probably going to jinx myself with this post. That said, us travel bloggers love to call the airlines out on their crap. So, it’s only fair for us to point out things that are going right!

United’s New PlusPoints

If you haven’t heard, United totally and completely changed their MileagePlus program at the end of last year. We knew changes were coming. A few weeks earlier they announced PlusPoints, the “evolution” of Regional and Global Premier Upgrades (RPUs and GPUs). These “instruments” as they used to be called came with a bunch of complicated rules that often seemed to not be worth the effort. Like having to buy a more expensive economy fare class. Or having to apply them just to be waitlisted, meaning it was harder to actually even use them all.

Personally, I had 100% success getting my GPUs to clear and had 70% success for RPUs. Mind you, up until recently I was working for myself so I had the ability to book less popular days which came in handy. Especially for the since cancelled LAX-SIN route. There’s plenty of folks out there that would have to give these upgrades away because they simply wouldn’t clear.

While they made it sound like it was all good, I was highly skeptical. It’s very confusing and even I don’t still understand everything, so here’s their video:

The Quickest Upgrade Confirmation I’ve Ever Gotten

All of these “issues” lead United to re-envision the upgrade system. Rather than having different types of upgrade instruments, now upgrades can be requested using different amounts of PlusPoints. This means Platinum members are no longer limited to regional upgrades. The new system also only withdraws the points upon the upgrade being cleared. This means you can request as many as you want. Rather than having to pick and choose between “using or losing” them.

Well, I had to book a trip to London with about two week’s notice and was thrilled to see I’d be flying on a retrofitted Polaris heavy 767. My employer will cover Premium Economy, so I happily booked United’s Premium Plus (it was cheaper than coach!)

a screenshot of a flight ticket

I noticed that there were a lot of open Polaris seats and while the retail price was $8,000 RT for business class, it would only cost me $780 to upgrade (or $425 + 25k miles). I’d still be saving around $5k from the original RT ticket. It might seem affordable, but it was still a bit too much for me to spend just to have a lie flat seat for such a short flight.

a screenshot of a website

The upgrades would be waitlisted if using PlusPoints, but would only cost me 30 PlusPoints rather than the standard 40 PlusPoints.

a screenshot of a computer

Always looking for a deal, I was happy to save the cash and redeem fewer PlusPoints than I normally would have to. Well, I called the 1K line last night just before midnight, asked the agent how many people were on the waitlist and he said zero. He offered to request the upgrade on my behalf, but I wanted to experience applying my PlusPoints myself (the only US carrier that offers you to request upgrades on both the web AND their app).

Dreaming of an Upgrade

I went to bed with with a wish for/dreams of a Polaris Burger at the ORD Polaris Lounge prior to my departure this coming Sunday. Less than 8 hours later, upon waking up, what do you know? It cleared!

a screenshot of a message

Even with my good fortune with GPUs, I never had a waitlisted upgrade clear that quickly. A bone of contention for many, having upgrades clear prior to just before boarding means that you can plan and pack differently (not bringing your own home made amenity kit). Or have access to the Polaris Lounge before the flight, since you can’t access it when waitlisted even if they think the upgrade will clear.

Either way, boy am I glad I learned my lesson when I tried out American Airlines Executive Platinum. Especially since I only had one of four Systemwide Upgrades clear. Now that I’m once again in the United 1k fold, I’m happy to be back in the “friendly skies.”

Beginner’s Luck?

What are your experiences with PlusPoints? Yay or Nay? I’d love to get feedback. I dunno how this happened, especially on such a popular route (ORD-LHR). Maybe it was because I chose the 3:55pm departure instead of the flight two hours later? Or because it’s a J (biz class) heavy plane?

The post Woah! United’s PointsPlus Upgrades Actually Worked Great! first published on Coworkaholic.

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