One of the nice benefits Global Services elites get from United Airlines on domestic trips is that complimentary upgrades (CPUs, f/k/a UDU/EUA) clear in to the PN bucket rather than the R bucket. That means a lot more upgrades for those passengers in general. But, until recently, that only applied for CPUs, not upgrades supported by other instruments such as miles, GPUs or RPUs, and only on domestic trips, not all flights. Acting on a tip from a reader this afternoon (thanks!) I reached out to the United Airlines twitter team to confirm if that policy has recently changed. It has:
@WanderngAramean Yes, Global Service members are now upgrades are processed with PN class.^JT
— United (@united) September 5, 2013
While this change will have roughly no effect on the vast majority of customers who fly United it is a significant improvement for the GS members. The PN bucket is much more widely available than the R bucket meaning their upgrades should clear in advance more often. And given that the GS passengers are usually the high value customers which United tries to make happy, relaxing the upgrade inventory requirement seems like quite the generous move. Generally speaking upgrades will clear at time of request a LOT more often (nearly always, I’m betting) and on all routes. Great news if you’ve got that status.
For everyone else, I’m pretty sure the net impact is relatively neutral. If the GS elite was waitlisted at the same time as a lower tier elite the GS was getting the upgrade ahead of them anyways with the R inventory so not a huge difference. Maybe a difference if the company holds back more upgrades for last minute GS purchases, but I don’t really think that this change should affect that either way.
I will note that last year when I was lucky enough to have GS status I did have the agents force a GPU into P a couple times in IRROPs but never as part of the normal course of travel. So that upgrade is not unprecedented but it is a formal policy now.