How to Search for United Upgrade Space

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Over the weekend I launched a post encourage Mommy Points readers to share upgrades, lounge passes, and other transferable goodies that would otherwise expire and go unused. I’m sharing a few things as well, including a few upgrades on United on behalf of a Mommy Points’ reader who has donated his unused upgrades for the last couple of years.

To streamline things I asked in that post that anyone who would like to throw themselves into the ring for the upgrades make sure there was confirmable upgrade space, or R space, available on your United flights. I gave some rough instructions on how to do that, but since I was pressed for time between naps I didn’t do a great job outlining that process.

Today I want to share a few more details on how to check for upgrade space, known as R space, on United flights. In the future this should help you check to see if there is confirmable upgrade space in the event you want to use miles or an upgrade instrument earned by high level United elites, such as a Regional Premier Upgrade (RPU) or Global Premier Upgrade (GPU) to sit in the “good seats”.

Opt into United Expert Mode

Before you can check for upgrade space, which is really just viewing availability in the different fare classes, you must opt into Expert Mode on using this link. This will enable you to see availability in various fare classes, including R, which determines upgrade space.

United Expert Mode Rules

Search for your flight while logged into your MileagePlus Account

Once you have opted into United Expert Mode you must conduct your flight search while logged into your account in order to view upgrade space. Simply conduct your flight search as normal and then either select your originally booked flight to check for upgrade space on a flight have already booked, or select whichever flight you are interested in booking.

United Expert Mode

Click on “details” to view R space, aka upgrade availability. If you are conducting your search while logged into a MileagePlus account that has opted into “Expert Mode” then clicking on details will display how many seats are availability in each fare class. If you have not opted into Expert Mode that info will not be displayed.

The fare class you care about for the purposes of upgrades is “R” space. If it says R0 then there is no confirmable upgrade space available at the moment on that flight. You could waitlist for an upgrade, but there is no guarantee it will clear.

United R Space

If there is R and then a number greater than 0, such as R2 as shown above, then there are that many seats available for confirmed upgrades. So, for this journey from Houston to Chicago to Amsterdam there are two confirmable seats on both legs of the journey, including into BusinessFirst using an upgrade instrument on the important overwater segment. One GPU would cover the upgrade on both legs of this itinerary.

Make sure your fare class is upgrade eligible

If you are using a GPU for your trip, then you must be booked in an eligible fare class in order to use the upgrade even if R space is available. This generally means you cannot be booked in one of the lowest economy fare buckets. To see which fare class your flight is booked into on an existing reservation simply view the reservation details from your MileagePlus account for that trip and look on the far righthand side of the screen where it lists the aircraft type and flight number. You will see something like United Economy (U) as shown below.

United Fare Class

You can then head to this page to make sure your booked fare class is eligible for using an upgrade instrument. For most international regions the following United fare classes are ineligible for GPUs: Z, P, S, T, K, L, G or N.

If you are flying to/from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America you can use a Regional Premier Upgrade instead of a Global Premier Upgrade and in those cases the fare class you are booked into doesn’t matter for upgrade eligibility purposes other than it not being an award ticket or similar.

This probably all sounds complicated, but it isn’t too bad once you get the hang of it. Hopefully some of you will be able to enjoy the good seats now that you know how to check for confirmable United upgrade space!


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