Upgrade award co-pays on United Airlines flights within the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada are now waived for Mileage Plus elite members. The waiver applies to all routes within the qualifying regions, including transcontinental United p.s. flights.
Elite members and their traveling companions (including non-members) will be exempt from the award co-pay when traveling on the same reservation. The waiver does not apply to flights to or from Hawaii where elite members will still be required to pay the $150 to $300 co-pay to upgrade from discount coach classes when flying to and from Hawaii.
Bottom line: The fee waiver applies to all United elite members, even lowly Premier members, who are last on the list to receive complimentary upgrades. While the waiver only applies to flights within North America and doesn’t include Hawaii, elite members who redeem miles to upgrade from discount coach fares on domestic flights can now save $50 to $100 per one-way flight–up to $200 roundtrip. Continental OnePass elite members have been exempt from upgrade award co-pays since their introduction so this move puts the two frequent flyer programs into closer alignment and is a positive sign that when the frequent flyer programs officially link up (if and when the merger between Continental and United goes through), the program will include some of the more customer-friendly policies. American Airlines does not waive its co-pay of $75 for elite members who upgrade from discount coach fares within the continental U.S. and Canada and many AA elite members are hoping that American follows United in this policy change.