Understanding United Airlines

United Airlines – N813UA – Airbus A319 – San Francisco International Airport

Flying with United Airlines soon? Whether you’re a first-time flyer or a seasoned traveler looking to understand the airline’s fare classes and upgrade process, this guide is for you.

What are United Airlines Fare Classes?

When booking a flight with United Airlines, you’ll come across different fare classes. Each class offers a unique set of amenities and pricing. Let’s break them down to get us closer to understanding United Airlines.

Basic Economy

The most affordable option, Basic Economy, comes with several restrictions. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to save money and don’t mind skipping some amenities.


Economy is the standard fare, offering a regular seat on the plane, including seat selection and a carry-on bag.

Economy Plus

Economy Plus offers extra legroom seats in the front of the Economy cabin. It’s perfect for those who value comfort without breaking the bank.

Premium Plus

Premium Plus offers seats closer to the front of the plane, providing more legroom, elbow room, and room to recline. It also includes amenities like power outlets, USB chargers, free drinks, hot meals, snacks, desserts, two free standard checked bags, Premier Access boarding, and discounted United Club passes.

United Business and United First

United Business and United First are the first-class products on flights within the US and Canada, offering a seat in a first-class leather recliner.

United Polaris

United Polaris is the business class service that replaced United BusinessFirst and United Global First service. It includes enhanced dining on any United long-haul international flight.

How to Upgrade on United Airlines

Upgrading your flight can make your journey more comfortable. Here’s how you can request an upgrade on United Airlines:

Using MileagePlus Miles

MileagePlus members can request upgrades using their miles. The availability of upgrades depends on the fare class of your ticket and your Premier status level.

PlusPoints for Premier Members

Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members receive PlusPoints that can be used to upgrade United flights. The number of PlusPoints required for an upgrade depends on your ticket’s fare class and the type of upgradeyou’re requesting.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades

If you’re a MileagePlus Premier member, tickets booked in certain fare classes are eligible for instant complimentary Premier upgrades. This means you could be upgraded to the premium cabin at booking, depending on availability and your status tier.

Decoding Fare Classes

Each fare class is designated with a different letter. This helps the airline track the number of tickets sold on each flight and which seats are still available. The fare class can also determine how quickly you earn elite status and whether you’re eligible for an upgrade.

For example, a ticket in the ‘Y’ fare class is a full-fare economy ticket, which earns more Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) and Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) than a discounted economy ticket in the ‘K’ fare class.

Choosing the Right Fare Class

The choice of fare class depends on your comfort level, price point, and the length of your flight. For example, for a cross-country flight, you might pay an additional $100 to $300 for an Economy Plus-type ticket. For a Premium Economy ticket, you might pay at least $300 more than a regular coach ticket. If you have any sort of airline status, you might unlock upgrades that could get you into an Economy Plus or Premium Economy seat at no charge.

Wrapping Up

Understanding United Airlines’ fare classes and upgrade process can help you make the most of your flight. Whether you’re looking for the most affordable option or seeking a bit of luxury, United Airlines has a fare class that suits your needs. So the next time you’re booking a flight, consider what each fare class has to offer and choose the one that’s right for you.