Travel credit

United Airlines

Replatforming the upgrade process to allow flexibility and visibility

Travel credit


  • Project scope: 10 months
  • Role: Product manager/business analyst
  • Product type: Responsive web (desktop, tablet, mobile), Mobile app
  • Tools: Pen, paper, JIRA, Zeplin, Confluence, Slack

In the United Airlines loyalty program, MileagePlus, the top Premier members earn a limited amount of upgrade credits upon reaching status to be used to upgrade their travel. Before 2020, these Premier members would earn Regional Premier Upgrades for domestic travel and Global Premier Upgrades for international travel.

The Loyalty team stakeholders received years of feedback from Premier members looking for a change, so they developed a new way for customers to upgrade called PlusPoints. PlusPoints would still be earned at reaching certain Premier status levels, but they could be used for any type of travel. Users also have the ability to upgrade with miles or money.

The challenge

Redesign the upgrade experience for high-level Premier members. Besides the Upgrade Trip pages being updated from legacy code, the My Account pages also need to reflect the addition of PlusPoints.

  • Manage work on Upgrade Trip (responsive web) and My Account (responsive web and mobile app).
  • Migrate the old upgrade experience to a new framework.
  • Redesign the upgrade flow and allow for users to have flexibility in choosing their upgrade type.
  • Dynamically display PlusPoints options for users with PlusPoints.
  • Create intuitive way for users to understand their available, requested, and deducted PlusPoints balances on Upgrade Trip and My Account pages.
  • Incorporate new services for Upgrade Trip and My Account.
  • Provide new line items for PlusPoints activity in the user’s account activity page.
  • Ensure timelines are being met for strict fall 2020 release date.

What I did

  • 1:1 discussions with stakeholders to understand current needs and wanted enhancements
  • Co-lead scrum DEV team for Upgrade Trip
  • Lead separate scrum DEV team for My Account
  • Sketched and brainstormed sessions with UX design team
  • Requirements gathering
  • Analyzed backend service with JSON file examples
  • Assisted in service mapping for new PlusPoints activity line items
  • Epic/Feature/Story mapping
  • User story writing
  • Listed acceptance criteria for features
  • Lead grooming/kick-offs/desk-checks
  • Managed backlog prioritization
  • Continuous communication between DEV and QA teams during development
  • Facilitated discussions between product DEV teams and backend services team
  • Performed Product Owner review, quality and usability assurance testing, and sign-off on stories
  • Lead demos to stakeholders for My Account pages
  • Cross-communicating between digital teams
  • Release planning coordination between teams

Pen and paper sketches:

Initial sketch of upgrade experience

The result

We released in December 2019 with Upgrade Trip pages (responsive web) and My Account pages (responsive web and mobile app). We included helper modals on the Upgrade Trip and My Account landing page upon first viewing to educate users on the new PlusPoints product. Within the first week, we saw an increase in flight upgrade traffic by 116%. Users liked having the new ability to waitlist for multiple PlusPoints upgrades. They also liked the ability to choose their upgrade type by line of flight, allowing users to mix money, miles, and PlusPoints on the reservation when previously they could not. Activity clearly displayed for viewing with the updated PlusPoints line items.

Final upgrade experience UX designs by May Cheng and HUGE contracting team with my annotations:

New United Airlines landing page