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United to Launch Website Perks for Frequent Fliers

Knowing if you'll get an upgrade on United will soon be easier in the coming weeks.

A passenger checks in at a United Continental Holdings Inc. kiosk.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A passenger checks in at a United Continental Holdings Inc. kiosk.

United Airlines is scheduled to roll out an upgraded website. Improved features will include one that allows users to see where they rank in line for an upgrade to business or first class. The upgrade update will be available as soon as you book a ticket.

Company spokesperson Shannon Kelley posted the announcement on the popular frequent-flier travel website Flyertalk.com on Friday. United's parent is United Continental Holdings .

Complimentary upgrades are a perk included in United's elite status. On domestic flights and some intra-Asia routes, MileagePlus members with Premier Silver status or higher — those who fly at least 25,000 miles annually — are eligible for the upgrades. General MileagePlus members can also redeem frequent flier miles for an upgrade, and will be included in the display.

Frequent fliers now have to either call reservations and hope an agent will reveal where they are on the upgrade list (they're not always willing), or wait until that information becomes available online or on United's mobile app, when check-in opens for a flight 24 hours prior to departure.

'Expert Mode' to Return to Website

Also making a reappearance on United's website will be an "expert mode" feature that allows you to view fare information by cabin. First class, for example, has certain codes for full-fare seats ("F"), discounted seats ("A") and a variety of upgrade categories including "R."

Hard-core users, who know what each of these letters and their values represent, were initially angered on September 7, when it was announced that this feature would be removed. (Read more: Frequent Traveler University: Hard-Core Travel Tips and Tricks)

It was removed and according to Shannon Kelley's post on Flyertalk.com on Friday, it will be reinstated after the outpouring of discontent from hard-core types, including myself. The feature will be on an opt-in basis, however, with a MileagePlus frequent flier membership required to see the change.

Both the upgrade display and return of expert mode will occur "in the next couple of weeks," according to Kelley's statement on Flyertalk.com.

United has been plagued by website and reservations integration problems since a system conversion on March 3. (Read more: United Back Online After System Outage)

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