It seems like airlines are constantly tinkering with the way loyalty points can be used. United Airlines is the latest airline to announce some significant changes. The carrier's updates will only impact Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members of the MileagePlus loyalty program.

The Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs) and Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) that elite United customers are used to dealing with are being replaced. A new points system by the name of PlusPoints will be the replacement. The switch has been made for the sake of giving elite members of the MileagePlus program some extra flexibility.

PlusPoints will give elite travelers points that can be cashed in for upgrades across all United flights. The old coupon system limited travelers to certain seats on certain routes. Premier Platinum members will receive enough points to make the leap from Economy to United Polaris Business Class using the new system. In addition, Premier 1K members will even be able to make the leap from discounted Economy fares to Polaris Business Class. The PlusPoints system will become effective on December 4, 2019.

What will upgrades look like under the new PlusPoints system? One RPU will now be worth 20 PlusPoints. A GPU will now be worth 40 PlusPoints. Travelers will be able to use points to book anything from one-way domestic upgrades to single long-haul international upgrades. PlusPoints essentially lets elite members of United's frequent flyer program enjoy greater flexibility in how they can choose to use their flight upgrades. One thing that isn't changing is that points will expire exactly 12 months from the issue date.

United actually has quite a few changes in the pipeline. One of the most exciting pieces of news is that the airline plans to make it possible for MileagePlus members to redeem points for upgrades using the United mobile app. You may be familiar with the hassle of making a phone call to speak with an agent in order to redeem a coupon if you're a loyal United customer. New app features will make it possible for members to actually manage their own upgrades.

Exclusive to Premier 1K members, they will even have the option to exchange additional PlusPoints to confirm an upgrade. This lets them skip the upgrade waitlist! That said, this option is likely to cost a fair bit of PlusPoints, depending on their specific itinerary.

Scott Dylan is a contributing writer at and has been to (almost) every country in North, Central and South America with nothing more than a backpack, a laptop and the desire to explore. He speaks Spanish fluently and has logged enough time in planes, trains, rideshares, buses, taxis and rickshaws to know how to rack up rewards and points to get anywhere his heart desires for pennies on the dollar. Email: