United Eliminating Complimentary Hawaii Upgrades for Chicago and Denver Flights

United’s Newark, Washington Dulles, and Houston flights to Hawaii have offered flat business class seats, and have not been eligible for complimentary elite upgrades.


Chicago and Denver flights are going to fall under this rule as well. Via Flyertalk,

As of December 8, 2016: All Chicago (ORD) and Denver (DEN) Hawaii flights departing on or after March 1st, 2017 will no longer be eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades or Instant upgrades. West coast routes between Hawaii and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) will continue to eligible for both Complimentary Premier Upgrades and Instant Upgrades.

13 People Clearing Their Upgrade, San Francisco – Maui

Flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco and Hawaii will remain the only complimentary upgrade-eligible services between the mainland US and the islands.

United’s move is consistent not only with how they’ve treated their premium East Coast and Houston departures, but also with how Delta treats its flights (offering upgrades only on Hawaii – Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Salt Lake City). That leaves American’s Boeing 767 flights from Dallas as the closest thing to a premium offering over 3000 miles eligible for complimentary upgrade.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. number of *actually* affected customers is probably small. ORD/DEN-HNL are routes that people routinely apply GPUs and RPUs even though the hard product isn’t all that.

    If instrument-supported upgrades fail to clear routinely for 1Ks and Platinums, few would be truly affected by this change negatively.

  2. It looks like the once per week Saturday DEN-LIH/OGG/KOA flights at least has moved to the lie flat 757-200. This is a comfortable way to go, probably worth burning an RPU. Still crappy domestic config 777-200 to HNL.

  3. UA’s upgrade list also shows people who cleared via GPU/RPU, and sometimes also people who bought first class outright. To wit, it shows more than just the complimentary upgrades.

  4. This affects me not at all. Never booked a trip to Hawaii and then relied on a CPU to fly upfront. I have always tried to secure an upgrade using a RPU (a GPU is too valuable for that!).

  5. United’s premium cabin saver award tickets are non-existent (at least out of Texas). I can’t find a single saver ticket for any month next year.

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