What is United Airlines Waitlisting Upgrades Process???

Last week, I wrote a post outlining my first trip of the year. The itinerary will take me to Houston where I plan to check out a few Priority Pass lounges, then onward to Los Angeles aboard a United Airlines 777-200 in economy class. I will ultimately spend 12 hours roaming the Priority Pass lounges of Los Angeles International Airport. The entire trip has me excited, even if it is only a day trip. The focus of this post will be the first class upgrade waitlisting process.

As I mentioned in the other post, I applied a regional premier upgrade to the first leg of the trip on United’s 777-200. I have flown in international business class from Newark to Beijing, but I really want to review domestic economy and domestic first class. FYI: United Airlines uses old internationally configured 777-200s on domestic routes.

United Airlines 777-200
United Airlines 777-200. courtesy of Wiki Commons.

To better paint a picture, I will start from the beginning. I booked the roundtrip ticket at the lowest available price. This is the default setting that I have on my United Airlines profile.

United Airlines Upgrade

The ticket was issued in fare class K. I immediately went to the United app an applied a Regional Premier Upgrade, under the Use Miles to Upgrade tab, to the outbound segment of the itinerary. If I wanted to purchase an upgrade, I could have done so on the Purchase Upgrade tab.

upgrade 2United Airlines Upgrade

I received a waitlist notification email from United, so I hopped on the app and the following was showing.


I would be lucky to snag an upgrade in this fare class. Here is the priority structure for upgrades on United:

From Premium Plus to Polaris Business Class:

O, A, R

From Economy to the next higher class of service:

Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G

As you can see, I should not hold my breath for this upgrade to clear. I could have booked in a higher fare class to increase my chances of an upgrade, but I feel that is unnecessary. I do not NEED to fly in first class. I have the option to upgrade the flight by paying cash, but $1500 seems a bit steep for a three-hour flight.

United Airlines Upgrade

Price from DFW-IAH

United Airlines Upgrade

Price from IAH-LAX

My flight is now a few days away and the status of the upgrade changed from PZ class requested to upgrade requested. I do not have any idea what this means, but I assume that upgrades are processing according to the lists that United has on the website.

1FEA612E-E561-48A7-8A16-2088D23A8CCCUnited Airlines UpgradeUnited Airlines Upgrade

Final Word

I do not know the ins and outs of United’s upgrade system, but I felt like sharing this information with you in the hopes that it would help. The upgrade is probably not going to clear, especially if paid upgrades are still available, which is fine. My exit row will not be bad since I will have to chance to get some of the new and improved stroopwafels.

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