How to Upgrade to First Class on United

First class air travel is typically reserved for the rich. While it’s nice to have the luxuries, such as private bathrooms and gourmet meals, it’s also possible to enjoy them without breaking the bank.

Using United miles to upgrade to first class will not require you to pay extra. Unfortunately, it’s not rare to get denied.

We’ll show you how to get an upgrade to business class from economy class.

Getting upgraded to first class is a great feeling. Not only is it cheaper, it allows you to get a better seat and enjoy more dining options and free drinks, as well as more flight attendants to accommodate your needs.

Unfortunately, the process of upgrading to first class from United Airlines can be a bit overwhelming.

This guide will help you get the most out of an upgrade with miles or a boost to a premium cabin.

10 Best Ways to Get Upgraded to First Class

It’s hard to resist the lure of free upgrades from economy to first class. In first class, you can indulge in the luxuries that only the rich can afford. While it’s nice to have a gourmet meal or a relaxing bath, it’s not ideal to have cheap seats.

Getting upgraded to first class can be a daunting task, but there are some simple steps that can help you get the most out of the perks that come with this level of service.

American Airlines lie-flat first-class seats.

1. Earn Airline Elite Status

Airlines value their loyalty, and they treat their customers well. Many of them have alliances that allow them to honor each other’s customers through various means, such as shared lounges, connecting flights, and more.

If you fly on an alliance, you may be rewarded with an upgrade. When you reach elite status, your preferred airline will give you perks, such as upgrade vouchers.

2. Redeem Miles and Points

If you fly with the same airline, you can use your points at other alliance members.

3. Volunteer to be bumped on overbooked flights

If there are enough seats available, airlines will often ask if you’re willing to be bumped to the next flight. They may also issue refund or upgrade vouchers.

4. Use an airline-branded credit card

Not all airline-branded credit cards can help you get an upgraded seat. Some, however, offer perks such as free checked luggage and priority seating.

5. Buy a last-minute upgrade

If the flight is full, airlines will often offer heavily discounted upgrades. On international flights, you can score a first class or business class seat for just a few hundred dollars on the day of departure.

6. Follow The Crowds

During the busiest times of the day, flights are more likely to be overbooked, and the more crowded the economy class, the better chance you have of getting an upgrade. It’s also a gamble, as there are always people waiting to get in your seat.

7. Fly With a Generous Elite Friend

If you’re not an elite member, but your flight companion is, they can upgrade you at the gate. Some airlines even allow you to use your friend’s upgrade certificate even if you’re not traveling together.

8. Travel Alone

Having multiple people in first class is more fun, but it’s also more likely to empty seats. If you decide to travel alone, book your flights separately to save yourself from the endless number of people in economy.

9. Dress Well and Be Nice

The people working for airlines have thankless jobs due to the rude and abusive passengers who frequent the area. Be the person who helps someone else get their bags or the one who asks a passenger to switch seats.

Being kind makes a flight more pleasant for everyone. You may not see a return on every single gesture, but it makes a flight more pleasant for everyone.

10. Guaranteed Success

Getting upgraded to first class can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know how to get the best deal. Our experts can help you get the best prices on the best airlines for your trip.

United Airlines: Types of upgrades

To see the available United fares, enter your reservation details in the form below.

It’s in the airline’s best interest to sell tickets when they can. While it’s possible to get upgraded, a purchased ticket will always take precedence over an upgrade if you weren’t confirmed for one.

How to check if United has upgrades available

Once prompted, enter your details and the details of your reservation. You’ll be able to see the available upgrades for that flight.

Related: Is It Worth Upgrading to Economy Plus on United?

Don’t Fall for an Upgrade Scam

There are tons of websites that promise to give you free flights, upgrades, and tickets, but this is not the case. Usually, these sites are scams that come from frequent flyers or businesses that can use their accumulated points.

Any act or transaction that involves the use of Avios points will violate the Terms and Conditions.

The terms of service of Avios indicate that if you use purchased miles for something other than travel, you may be prosecuted.

How do you become a MileagePlus Premier member?

Unlike other loyalty programs, United Premier status does not require a distance requirement. Instead, it will count toward your 1K status.

Related: How United Airlines Miles Work?

Who gets upgraded first on United Airlines?

Even with United Premier status, you’re still eligible for upgrades. To get one, confirm your status using the windows below.

Even with United Premier status, people with high status can’t just get upgraded based on their status. There are many ways to upgrade, and it can be very time-consuming to get an upgrade.

United Airlines also offers various credit cards for its customers. Some of these include the Chase Freedom Card and the United Premier Card.

Club-level card holders with Premier status are also eligible for upgrades after meeting the requirements for the PlusPoints and the MileagePlus Upgrade Awards.

Non-Elite members can also get upgraded through the Chase United Premier Card. However, elite members should not count on this method of qualifying.

Through PlusPoints, United members can get upgraded for seats that include United Premium Plus and Polaris.

Platinum 1K members can also get an additional 20 PlusPoints for each 2,000 they earn beyond the 15,000 point requirement.

If you’re planning on upgrading, there are two ways to do it: At the time of booking or after adding an upgrade to a reservation. This method is usually used for business travelers.

If you’re planning on using miles when booking a trip, United’s advanced search feature can help you find the miles that are right for you.

How to upgrade on United Airlines when booking?

The search bar can also be used to see the various upgrade options that are available for flights.

To get started, first log in to your account and navigate to your original reservation. After clicking on the “Buy an upgrade” option, you’ll be presented with various choices.

While you can still upgrade at the gate, United strongly discourages doing so. By the time the flight arrives, other passengers have already upgraded their seats.

Is it worth it to upgrade with United miles?

It’s possible to upgrade with United miles, but the amount of miles you paid for your original flight and the cost of the upgraded seat will vary depending on several factors such as your personal circumstances and budget.

Related: Is It Worth Upgrading to Economy Plus on United?

Benefits of United Business Class Cabins

he United Airlines business class is often considered as the most superior option when it comes to air travel.

Armchair Seats

First and business class seats have folding legs. They’re equipped with an anatomical, fully adjustable chair that can provide more space for work and relaxation.

There are various upgrade classes and rules for different routes and planes. For non-elite passengers, getting an upgraded seat can be difficult.

Ask flight attendants to transfer you to upper class


Sometimes, asking flight attendants to transfer you to another seat can be polite. However, it’s not always possible to get an upgraded seat without being polite.

Sometimes, the economy class is full and the flight has more passengers than seats. In this scenario, you can get an upgraded seat by asking for it at the registration desk.

If you’re flying with friends, the flight attendants may be able to transfer you to business class.

How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade to Business Class on United Airlines?

If there are free places in business class, United may be able to upgrade you to the class during check-in.