Routes with confirmable Polaris upgrades before July 31, 2023

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When we first ran this article in January, MileagePlus members loved seeing routes they could confirm upgrades on using PlusPoints and miles, so we’ve updated it.

For context, United Airlines repeatedly extended PlusPoints (the airline’s upgrade currency) during the early days of the pandemic. By extending PlusPoints earned back in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the demand for PlusPoints upgrades on United’s flights is higher than ever. It’s common to find upgrade waitlists with over 30 customers on peak international flights. So, some Premier members struggle to redeem their PlusPoints before the extended PlusPoints expire on July 31.

United offers three types of Polaris business-class PlusPoints upgrades on its long-haul flights:

  • Confirmable upgrades (indicated by the PZ fare class).
  • Waitlist upgrades (when the PZ fare class isn’t available).
  • Skip-the-waitlist upgrades (only for Premier 1K members on select flights).

So, since you generally can’t rely on a waitlisted upgrade and with the significant shortcomings of the skip-the-waitlist option, we recommend redeeming PlusPoints when there’s confirmable Polaris upgrade space.

United Polaris business class. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

As you’d expect, confirmable upgrade space is harder to come by, but it’s still available on some routes. On the following flights, there are at least four seats in the PZ fare class at the time of writing (meaning you can confirm an upgrade from economy or Premium Plus to Polaris business class). We only searched for routes that include a Polaris cabin. You might find upgrade space on shorter-haul international flights to destinations in Central America and Canada, but those flights do not operate a Polaris-marketed cabin.

With that out of the way, here are the flights where you can confirm a Polaris upgrade at the time of writing. Upgrade availability constantly changes, so these dates may not be accurate when you’re reading.

Related: My last-minute trick for confirming United first class upgrades

Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)

GCMAP.COM

London Heathrow (LHR)

  • April 24, 25, 26 and 29.
  • May 1, 2, 12 and 27.
  • July 17.
  • August 14 and 28.
  • October 9, 23, 24, 30 and 31.
  • November 6, 13, 27 and 29.
  • December 11, 30 and 31.
  • January 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.
  • February 5, 6, 12 and 19.

Related: United unveils 3 ‘new’ destinations, 6 additional transatlantic flights for summer 2023

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

GCMAP.COM

Amsterdam (AMS)

Brussels (BRU)

Dublin (DUB)

Edinburgh (EDI)

Frankfurt (FRA)

Geneva (GVA)

Johannesburg (JNB)

Lima (LIM)

  • April 24, 25, 27 and 30.
  • May 1.
  • August 26.

London-Heathrow

  • April 24, 25, 26, 28 and 29.
  • May 6, 9 and 29.
  • August 7.
  • October 30 and 31.
  • November 20, 27, 28 and 29.
  • December 11 and 30.
  • January 1.
  • February 5, 6 and 20.

Munich (MUC)

New Delhi (DEL)

Sao Paulo (GRU)

Tokyo-Narita (NRT)

  • April 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30.

Zurich (ZRH)

  • April 25.
  • January 29.
  • February 5.

Related: United Airlines orders up to 200 Boeing 787s, setting stage for wide-body fleet renewal

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Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

GCMAP.COM

Dublin

Frankfurt

  • July 17 and 24.
  • August 7 and 21.

Geneva

  • April 24 and 26.
  • May 1, 3 and 9.

Lagos (LOS)

  • Widespread upgrade space.

London-Heathrow

  • April 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29.
  • May 2, 6, 11, 12 and 13.
  • July 27.
  • October 30 and 31.
  • November 20, 21, 23, 27, 28 and 30.
  • December 7 and 28.
  • January 2.
  • February 6.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

Sao Paulo

Tokyo-Haneda (HND)

  • April 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.
  • May 1 and 2.

Related: How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

GCMAP.COM

Amsterdam

Brussels

Frankfurt

London

  • April 25, 26, 28, 29 and 30.
  • May 1 and 23.
  • July 4 and 11.
  • February 6.

Munich

Sao Paulo

  • April 25, 26 and 27.
  • May 2, 3, 8, 10 and 15.

Tokyo-Haneda

  • April 24, 25, 29 and 30.
  • May 1.

Related: The ultimate guide to earning elite status with United cards

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

GCMAP.COM

Buenos Aires (EZE)

Lima

  • April 24, 25, 26 and 27.
  • May 2, 3 and 9.

London

Munich

Rio de Janeiro (GIG)

Santiago, Chile (SCL)

Tokyo-Narita

Related: 6 strategies I’m using to close the gap to top-tier United 1K elite status this year

Denver International Airport (DEN)

GCMAP.COM

London

Tokyo-Narita

  • April 25, 29 and 30.
  • May 2.

Related: United’s best-kept elite status secret: How to earn PQPs faster with partner flights

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

GCMAP.COM

Melbourne, Australia (MEL)

London

Sydney, Australia (SYD)

Tokyo-Haneda

  • April 25, 27, 28, 29 and 30.
  • May 3.

Related: Why I consider my United miles to be worth 5 cents apiece

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

GCMAP.COM

Amsterdam

Auckland (AKL)

  • April 25 and 27.
  • May 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23 and 30.
  • June 6 and 20.

Melbourne

  • April 24, 25 and 26.
  • May 8.

Munich

Seoul Incheon (ICN)

Sydney

Tahiti (PPT)

  • April 25, 28, 29 and 30.
  • May 4, 6, 7, 14, 20 and 23.

Tel Aviv (TLV)

  • April 25.
  • May 8.
  • July 17 and 31.
  • August 7.
  • November 27.

Tokyo-Haneda

Tokyo-Narita

  • April 24, 25, 26, 27 and 30.

Related: What is United Airlines elite status worth?

Honolulu International Airport (HNL)

GCMAP.COM

Toyko-Narita

  • April 26 and 27.
  • May 11 and 14.

Related: A 16-hour red-eye: Reviewing United Polaris on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Searching for upgrade space

To search for upgrade space, sign in to your MileagePlus account. Then, select “Advanced search.”

UNITED.COM

Enter your search criteria on the next screen, keeping the cabin in economy/premium economy. Expand the “Upgrades, certificates, and promotion codes” menu. Open the “Upgrade type” dropdown and select “PlusPoints upgrades.”

UNITED.COM

On the next page, you’ll see which upgrades are confirmed and waitlisted, and you can select your flight accordingly.

Related: The ultimate guide to getting upgraded on United Airlines

How to book these upgrades

I found upgrade space from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) to SFO. UNITED.COM

As with most long-haul flights, you’ll probably want to book these flights as round trips (or multicity flights returning to the same region) to avoid inflated one-way cash fares. United charges the following number of PlusPoints per person for a one-way upgrade to Polaris business class on long-haul flights:

  • Discount economy (S, T, L, K and G fares) to Polaris: 80 PlusPoints.
  • Economy to Polaris (Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V and W fares): 40 PlusPoints.
  • Premium economy to Polaris: 30 PlusPoints.

Occasionally, you’ll find the price difference between premium economy and regular economy to be quite small — like this example on a flight from SFO to Frankfurt, where the premium economy fare is slightly less expensive than the W fare and just $100 more than the discount economy fare.

UNITED.COM

Make sure to check the fares closely, since you can sometimes save a ton of PlusPoints by booking premium economy and upgrading to Polaris.

Related: Why Premium Plus and higher fare classes are the secret to United upgrades

Bottom line

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to redeem your PlusPoints for Polaris confirmable upgrades before they expire on July 31.

Give United a call if you cannot apply a PlusPoints upgrade online. In my experience, United’s Premier Platinum and 1K phone representatives are well-versed in PlusPoints and should be able to process your upgrade quickly.

As a reminder, Premier Platinum members receive 40 PlusPoints each year, while Premier 1K members receive 320 PlusPoints yearly (40 upon qualifying for Platinum and 280 upon qualifying for Premier 1K). Premier 1K members also receive 20 additional PlusPoints for every 2,000 Premier qualifying points earned beyond the Premier 1K status requirement.

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