A Global Premier Upgrade (colloquially known as a GPU) is an upgrade certificate that allows a one-cabin upgrade on eligible flights throughout the United route system, including both Region 1 and Region 2.
GPUs are deposited electronically to the member's account, although paper GPUs are also available for use on Lufthansa (see below) or occasionally when issued at the airport as compensation.
Mileage Plus members earn 6 GPUs as soon as they have earned 100,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) or 120 Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) during a given calendar year. Two additional SWUs are earned for every 50K PQMs beyond the first 100K or for every 60 PQSs beyond the first 100K PQM/120 PQS. Note that certain lifetime Premier 1K's (such as infinite platinum 1K, spousal matched 1K) do not earn GPUs unless they actually fly 100,000 PQM or 120 PQS. Lifetime Premier 1K status derived from flying 3 Million Miles are still guaranteed their 6 GPUs and 4 RPUs regardless if they flew 100,000 PQM/120 PQS or not.
Other earning methods
GPUs are not available for purchase, but they may be given as compensation for certain irregular operations scenarios, e.g. voluntary denied boarding. GPUs are also not directly transferable, but may be used to sponsor an upgrade for someone other than the GPU's owner (see below).
The full terms and conditions that govern GPUs are available on united.com.
GPU reservation process
Upon request for upgrade, the GPU will go into reserved status and is removed from the E-Upgrade (Balance) Summary regardless if cleared or waitlisted. The GPU will not be available for a different flight unless request is cancelled or waitlist does not clear for the original flight. If not used, the GPU will re-deposited (and re-appear) in Upgrade Summary in a few days. If the GPU does clear, the original reserved GPU will be used. This is true even if an earlier expiring GPU had been re-deposited. It will take a call to United to switch expiration dates.
GPUs may only be used on flights operated by United or United Express and only on multi-cabin aircraft. GPUs may not be used on codeshare flights operated by other carriers, except for flights operated by Lufthansa, which require special procedures (see below). Upgrade requests for flights marketed by and operated by United or United Express may be made as early as time of booking and may be confirmed immediately, subject to space availability. Upgrade requests for flights marketed by other airlines but operated by United may only be made at the airport on the day of travel.
GPUs may be used for flights in or between Region 1 and/or Region 2. A single GPU can be used to upgrade all eligible flights in a single direction (e.g. between a single origin and destination), regardless of the number of connections, except if the itinerary contains a stopover (a between-flight break of 12 hours or longer) or routes a second time through a specific airport. A single GPU can upgrade all eligible flights on either side of the stopover; upgrading the entire itinerary requires multiple GPUs.
For travel including (i.e. to, from, or wholly within) Region 2, a GPU may be used to upgrade from: United Business - C, D; United Economy - Y, B, E, M, U, H, Q, V, W. For travel wholly within Region 1, a GPU may also be used to upgrade from booking classes: United Economy - S, T, K, L.
GPUs may be also used on flights operated by Lufthansa, with some important restrictions.
Electronic GPUs cannot be used on Lufthansa; they must be converted to paper GPUs. A request to convert a GPU to paper must be made at least 14 days prior to the applicable flight, to allow time for conversion and mailing. Members must contact Mileage Plus to request paper GPUs.
Upgrades on Lufthansa with paper GPUs may only be made on a standby basis on the day of flight, subject to space availability - upgrades with paper GPUs cannot be confirmed in advance.
Paper GPUs may be used to upgrade any eligible Lufthansa flight except when booked in LH booking classes X, I, R, N, W, S and E. LH booking classes L and T are also excluded for intra-Europe flights. In contrast with usage on United, a single paper GPU will upgrade only a single LH segment; multiple segments require multiple GPUs, regardless of the segment length. (FT)
GPUs are not directly transferable but may be used to sponsor an upgrade for someone other than the GPUs' owner. This is most easily done online at united.com, but can also be done over the phone with Reservations. However, if an upgrade is sponsored over the phone, the sponsor may be required to sign an Auditor's Coupon at the airport to complete the authorization; this signature must be obtained prior to flight.
GPUs are valid through the end of the month one year after issuance. They must be used (not just applied) by the date of expiry, i.e. the scheduled departure date and time of an upgraded flight must be prior to the expiration date of the GPU. Expired GPUs cannot be reinstated and do not convert to miles.
In previous years, Mileage Plus has offered a promotion to allow 1K members to extend the expiration of a single GPU. Prior to 2009, this promotion extended the validity of 1 GPU for an additional year. In 2009, the extension lasted only through April 2009. Members were required to contact Mileage Plus in order to extend their GPU; this did not happen automatically.
N.B. The expiration-extension promotion is not guaranteed and is not a published benefit; United may or may not offer this promotion in future years.
Switching upgrade instruments
- You can switch upgrade instruments (e.g. from a GPU to a RPU) over the phone (FT), but this can sometimes be difficult.
- Before the upgrade has cleared & before the flight goes to airport control, it may be prudent to avoid switching instruments. Once on airport control, upgrades clear (first) by status so switching is probably okay. (FT)
- After the upgrade has cleared... (FT)
Profile for Systemwide upgrades
The policy governing GPUs is detailed in S*PMO/UG-SYSTEM.