United Confuses Elites With New Upgrade Fare Classes

Oct 22, 2018

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Casual flyers are well acquainted with the standard single-character Roman alphabet — A, B, C and so on. United loyalists, on the other hand, are almost as familiar with obscure pairings — XN (elite and credit cardholder saver awards), IN (elite business saver awards) and PN (instant and Global Services upgrades). As of Monday, those road warriors now have yet another combo to commit to memory: PZ.

So what the heck is PZ? It’s the new “R” class — that is, the fare class assigned to confirmed upgrades for general members and United elites (up to Premier 1K). I logged into my existing booking for United’s new 787-10 Dreamliner, and saw that it’s already been moved from R to PZ:

Another booking I have on the same aircraft had PN availability, for Global Services, but no R space, for this lowly Premier 1K. I asked a friend to upgrade me, and that flight is still showing PN — United hasn’t made any changes to that particular fare class.

So what does it all mean for you? Well, nothing’s changed if you have an upgrade that’s already confirmed — other than the assigned fare class, that is. Upgraded flights have already been moved from R inventory to PZ, and there’s nothing you need to do to ensure you still travel in business or first.

If you’re still waiting for an upgrade to clear, ensure that PZ is now appearing on the waitlisted segment, rather than R. If you still see R, you might want to give United reservations a ring at 1 (800) 864-8331 just to make sure you’re good to go. Meanwhile, if you’re using Expert Mode to search for flights that’ll clear into a premium cabin right away, PZ is the fare class you’re after now.

United has confirmed that inventory has not been adjusted, so you should be seeing just as much (or little) availability as before. This change simply reflects a fare-class shuffle following the end of international first class, now that the airline’s 3-cabin 777-200s are undergoing a retrofit, and losing Polaris first in the process.

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