The new United Airlines upgrade & award fare buckets

Now that United Airlines converted to Shares and the old upgrade and award fare buckets no longer exist, I thought it might be helpful to summarize the new ones as shown in the below chart. The new alphabet soup has gotten a touch more complex depending on your elite status, so I’ve broken out the correct buckets by level.

The first “Upgrade” category covers burning your miles (+co-pay) or using a confirmable instrument (RPU/GPU), but also includes Complimentary Premier Upgrades where applicable from coach to the next cabin. The “Y/B/M Upgrade” section refers to the instant-upgrade program when buying full-fare coach tickets (or M-fares for 1K and Global Services members) in CPU markets (most domestic markets plus a few intra-Asia).

This is the new system in theory at the moment, as I have yet to attempt to book an award in one of the two-character buckets ending with –N. My reservation to Australia that was converted from Apollo shows my upgrade to business as simply being in the R-cabin, though we as customers might only see the first character online after a reservation is booked.

To view a flight’s allocation of inventory, simply click into the “Fare classes” link that appears on the right-hand side of a flight search when you go to make a reservation.





  1. I booked through UA’s new system over the phone a regular business class seat on UA (was available to aeroplan and ana as well), however they called it ON class, and they wanted the easypass amount of miles….


  2. Great website, and thanks for this really useful information! One question: Are YBM upgrades generally available for international flights on United? On Flyertalk etc it looks like the answer is “No” — most people seem to say these upgrades are only for the flights eligible for UCUs. However I am looking to book a flight from SFO > LHR, and on the United website I see several such flights which indicate PN9, which according to your chart means availability for B-upgrades. Does this mean B-upgrades are possible after all on these fights? Or is it just possible with a co-pay? Thanks for any help.

    • @Seth: Thanks! Yep, the Flyertalkers are correct The YBM upgrades are domestic-only – I’ve updated the post text to clarify it as a domestic perk.

  3. r u kidding… do i need a collage degree in bullshit to understand this… what good r these miles if u can not use them? if u do it by phone u get charged an extra $25… what a scam!!!!!

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