Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) can be applied on Lufthansa-operated flights for a one-segment, one-cabin upgrade. It’s a great benefit, but can require some research and chicanery to pull off. For online GPU requests, tickets must be purchased from Lufthansa (not United); United-purchased 016 tickets (operated by Lufthansa) are still GPU-eligible but will require calling.
United Premier 1Ks earn six GPUs the day they qualify for 1K status, and an additional two GPUs after every additional 50,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) or 60 Premier Qualifying Segments (PQS).
Upgrading from economy to business class using a GPU
Generally speaking, the cheapest economy fares (deep-discount) are not eligible for GPU-applied upgrades. The following Lufthansa-operated economy fare classes are eligible for GPUs: B, E, G, H, M, Q, U, and Y.
Lufthansa has three economy fares: Light, Basic and Basic Plus I. With the fare below (displayed from Lufthansa.com), the Light and Basic fares book into T class, which is not eligible for a GPU. The Basic Plus I fare bookes into the eligible Q class – note the unfortunate price difference.
How to search for eligible fare classes
When booking flights on Lufthansa.com, select a fare and click “Show booking classes.”
How and when to request GPU upgrades on Lufthansa
Requests can be made online after booking as early as 331 days before departure and up until 10 hours before departure. You can only make online requests for Lufthansa flights, not United-purchased codeshare flights (016 tickets). For flights purchased through United, you will need to call to process a GPU.
You can upgrade up to four people on the same reservation – using one GPU per passenger – online; more than four will require calling United. You do not need to be traveling on the requested itinerary and passengers can have different last names.
Upgrades that cannot be confirmed will be placed on a waitlist and can even be confirmed after check-in. The GPU will deduct from your account if and when your upgrade clears.
Will my upgrade clear?
While not guaranteed, award availability is generally a good predictor for clearing upgrades. If a Lufthansa flight is showing award availability in searches on United.com, a GPU is more likely clear – although that’s certainly not guaranteed.
While Lufthansa economy fare class limitations somewhat limit the value of Global Premier Upgrades, the addition of Z and P fares to GPU-eligibility is a huge win for United 1Ks who want to fly Lufthansa First Class. Trust me, it’s worth it for the caviar alone.