Skip to content

United Eliminates Complimentary Upgrades for More Hawaii Flights

Dec. 10, 2016
2 min read
United Eliminates Complimentary Upgrades for More Hawaii Flights
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

United operates what you might refer to as a mini-hub at Honolulu International Airport (HNL), flying to a handful of South Pacific islands (via the "Island Hopper"), in addition to Tokyo (NRT), Guam (GUM) and the following mainland US destinations:

  • Chicago O'Hare (ORD)*
  • Denver (DEN)*
  • Houston (IAH)**
  • Newark (EWR)**
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD)**
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Currently, the airline doesn't offer complimentary upgrades to elite members on the above routes marked with a ** — if you're flying from Houston, Newark or Washington, your only option to upgrade is to redeem miles, a Regional Premier Upgrade or a Global Premier Upgrade (which are only issued to elite members). Mileage upgrades will run you as much as 30,000 miles + $500 each way, depending on the fare class.

For at least two of the routes mentioned above (Newark and Washington, D.C. to Honolulu), passengers who upgrade will almost certainly travel in a lie-flat seat, though Houston flights are often operated by a 777-200 with recliner seats, as are many Chicago and Denver flights (currently). However, United will soon be swapping in a new lie-flat 777 (with 3-4-3 seats in coach) on flights that currently have the recliners.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-12-51-19-pm

Around the same time — as of March 1, 2017 — these ORD and DEN flights will no longer be eligible for complimentary upgrades. Unfortunately this change will also impact Hawaii routes not operated by this new aircraft, including Chicago and Denver to Maui, and Denver to Kona on the Big Island and Kauai.

Notably, the 777s currently operating Honolulu flights from Chicago and Denver offer 32 first-class seats, while the reconfigured planes only have 28, so there will be fewer upgrade seats to go around either way.

H/T: View from the Wing

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers