The Best Free United Domestic Upgrade

Before the merger with United, when I was flying Continental I would occasionally find myself on an internationally-configured 757-200 on a domestic flight. Those birds had great business class seats, and every once in a while when flying Newark-Ft Lauderdale or Newark-Las Vegas I would be pleasantly surprised to be upgraded into one of those great seats.

After the United merger, I haven’t seen an international 757-200 (with lie flat seats, now) on a domestic flight. Perhaps I was just unlucky, but a friend who frequently flies to Vegas also reports a dearth of them on that route.

So I was more than thrilled when I saw a couple of those guys flying Newark-Orlando. I’m flying down to Orlando today and chose this flight (far later in the day than I would have liked) because the 757-200 (int’l) was available. And though I’m flying on a $200 ticket, I’m upgraded into one of those lie-flat seats. United seems to be flying 2 or 3 of these a day (check the seatmap – it’s the 757 with 4 rows in business class, not 6) down to Orlando (with mine flying down in between flights to Lima, Peru).

I’ve read lots about how excited people are to fly JFK-Vancouver on Cathay because of their best-in-North-America business class seats (and those sure are fantastic). But you can’t get a free Elite upgrade on those – you can on the United 757-200 if you get lucky. As I just did.

I really did think this little perk was gone, so I’ll consider myself lucky to be lying down (at 5 in the afternoon?) on my way to visit a call center in Melbourne, Florida (yawn).


  1. Good to know they’re still out there somewhere.

    But I’ll be flying that CX JFK-YVR flight in F this week. Not sure I’d switch :smile:

  2. Thanks for the tip. So what I’m looking for is a domestic UA 757 flight with 4 rows of FC seating, right? All such aircraft should be the int’l configuration?

    Honestly, I don’t run into many domestic 757 flights — and I’ve never seen one with 4 rows of FC. I’m just happy to stay off the A319. It’s got a total of 8 FC seats. I had one on an EWR transcon. We even had to make a fuel stop due to wind. Talk about the worst of all worlds.

  3. As a resident of Melbourne, I’ll take your slight as good natured humor, as I am sure that is how it is intended. :-)

    The 757-200 has been on the EWR-MCO route for some time. As a former CO elite, and regular traveler to the NY area, that upgrade happened more frequently for me than reasonably should have.

    Enjoy the warm weather while you’re “stuck” here in MLB.

  4. Air Canada has four flights a day YYZ-YVR on 777 and 767, all of which have quite nice lie-flat biz class seats. Upgrades are usually available to people with Aeroplan status.