Continental changes the terms of their systemwide upgrades to align with United

Last year Continental introduced systemwide upgrades for those that earned more than 100,000 elite qualifying miles per year. For passing that level they offered four systemwide upgrades, which is less than the six upgrades United offers, though there were no fare restrictions (unlike United, which required at least a “W” fare). Well, it appears they will now be changing the terms of their systemwide upgrades to align more closely with United.

According to, newly issued Continental systemwide upgrades will not be valid on S, T, K, L, or G fares. Furthermore, you can now earn an unlimited number of systemwide upgrades, since you get two more for every 50,000 elite qualifying miles or 60 elite qualifying segments you earn. You now get six (instead of four) for passing 100,000 elite qualifying miles.

So I guess that answers the question as to whether there will be fare restrictions on systemwide upgrades at the “new” United.


  1. Personally, I’m not surprised.. I bet UA would loose some cash if they let people with K fares use their SWUs to SYD/NRT/HKG…

  2. I prefer unrestricted SWUs for two reasons… Firstly, it is a little annoying having to search by certain fare classes. Secondly, I could care less if I paid a cheap fare and my SWU doesn’t clear, but if I pay a few hundred more when a significantly cheaper fare is available and my SWU does not clear.

    Rest assured, clearing upgrades at time of booking is going to become far more difficult since CO management is stingy about releasing saver space in the premium cabin in advance compared to UA. So it is going to be a crap shoot most of the time…

    Also SWUs probably will be behind mileage+cash upgrades, which means a nobody using miles+cash will trump an 1K using SWUs if the current CO system is adopted. I am not familiar with UA myself, so I don’t know what the current priority arrangement with UA for international upgrades.

  3. This is great news for 1K’s. The standard practice on international routes is that 1K’s on SWU’s are higher in priority than other upgrade instruments, and the expectation is now that this will continue.

  4. Lucky.

    This is old news. I have been mouring this news ever since it was annouced.
    I wish the new united would give flyers a choice, a hybrid between the CO system and the UA system

    CO – 4 SWUs on any fare
    UA – 6 restricted

    I personally am not sure what I would do with 6 swus. Too much in my opinion. I would prefer to have less with more value.

  5. Why not give the recipient the choice of 4 unrestricted SWU’s or 6 restricted SWU’s?

    I’m sticking with AA where I’m getting 8 SWU’s!

  6. Sorry but AA does not serve the needs to a true global traveller. AA only works if you need to go to London or Narita/Haneda or Shanghai, Beijing from Chicago.

    That’s it. Its paltry compared to Delta / UACO.

    Add AAntiuque aircraft, not interested.

    That said, I will take UA system over Delta’s.

    I feel sorry for those people.

  7. I am confident that the new international upgrade priority will look something like this:

    Star Gold [includes UA elites] on Y/B fare using miles to upgrade
    GS using cash+miles sorted by fare class
    1K using cash+miles sorted by fare class
    1P using cash+miles sorted by fare class
    2P using cash+miles sorted by fare class
    General member using cash+miles sorted by fare class
    GS using SWUs sorted by fare class
    1K using SWUs sorted by fare class
    1P using SWUs sorted by fare class
    2P using SWUs sorted by fare class
    General Member using SWUs sorted by fare class

    I highly doubt they will continue the practice of letting GS/1Ks using SWUs to upgrade ahead of people who will shell out cold hard cash and miles for an upgrade. If you think they will continue to clear 1Ks on SWUs over general members using cash+miles then you need to be brought back to reality… The new United has hit jackpot here, they can double dip $$$ without even upgrading you by luring you into dropping a couple hundred for a chance at an upgrade and still make $500+ dropping off 20-30K miles off of their liabilities to upgrade a non member.

    That is why I prefer four unrestricted SWUs over 6 restricted ones, because it is less frustrating and I won’t feel like I am being taken advantage of if my upgrade doesn’t clear.

  8. Are there any updates on when we can cross-utilize these darn things? I’d love to use my UA SWUs on CO flights.

  9. I hope I’m not wrong but I don’t think general member cash & miles will take preference over 1K on higher fare with SWU. That’s called screwing over your most loyal customers and will send ’em running.

  10. It is a crap, I have 11 system wide upgrades. Got a ticket with miles, can’t use any, them decided to buy the ticke and couldn’t use the either since the are restricted by class.

    What a crap !!!!!! I have 1.2 million miles with this s?it company

  11. The systemwides are a joke to anyone buying tickets on

    You can only use them with the much higher fare class AND there is NO other benefit to the higher class. Effectively you are paying to use them.

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