United’s Economy Plus Policy Stinks

Beware: Rant ahead.

I understand the appeal of paying an extra $15 to $60 per plane seat on a domestic flight to get the few inches of extra leg room in United Airlines Economy Plus section. I’ve paid the fee myself when I’ve wanted confirmed assurance that I’d have a bit more comfort for my five-foot-nine-inch frame on a cross-country flight.

I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who pays a little more to sit in the exit rows and the coveted half-dozen Economy Plus rows of seats. And they shouldn’t begrudge me if the flight is less than half full, there are several of these spacious seats open, and I ask to scoot up into the roomy seating – after all, Economy Plus patrons still have the extra space they’d reserved. I wouldn’t be taking away their precious extra five inches of legroom.

But that’s exactly why the flight attendant wouldn’t let me move up to an empty exit row on my flight from San Francisco to Denver earlier today.

It comes down to a bunch of whiners.

Nope, can't sit in any of those empty Economy Plus seats.
Don’t even think about sitting in any of those empty Economy Plus seats.

I asked a flight attendant if I could move up to one of TWO empty exit rows or one of the THREE totally empty rows 12, 13 and 14 on the aft side of the plane. Nope, couldn’t do it, “Those rows are reserved for people who paid for the upgrade. You’re welcome to purchase an upgrade now if you like.

Since when did Economy Plus become First Class??

When I said I’d never had a problem moving up to a roomier seat before, the UA flight attendant said, “If I let you sit there, I could get fired.”


The only reason I couldn’t have the extra bit of legroom is because others paid for it. Um, so what. If there are empty seats, why can’t I snag one? Its not like I’m displacing the other Economy Plus passengers, nor am I getting any extra services, like the passengers being served a hot lunch in First Class.

My guess is all those people who forked over the money to reserve an Economy Plus seat have been furious and complained when Economy passengers have scooted up front for free.

Just more nickel and diming from the airlines. They’ll take every dollar they can get.

Obviously, United Airlines has no interest in making passengers as comfortable as possible on a half-empty flight on a lousy two-and-a-half-hour flight (that had already been delayed an hour). Flight attendants shouldn’t fear for their jobs in situations like this. It’s a judgment call.

The next time I book an Economy Plus seat, and by chance someone moves up to share my row with me, I won’t complain to United Airlines’ Customer Service. Instead, I’ll say, “Good for you!” After all, plane travelers need to stick together these days. We’ve been knocked down so much lately, with extra baggage fees, reduced flight schedules and paying for on-board water and pillows and snacks. We should celebrate small victories amongst one another, since the airlines are growing stingier by the month and aren’t going out of their way to do us any favors.

7 Comments on "United’s Economy Plus Policy Stinks"

  1. you’re being a bit ignorant. Why didn’t you pay. CHEAPO? you want a premium service, you should pay for it? it is certainly worth it.

    • TimTraveler | June 25, 2016 at 3:30 pm |

      Yep, this Kara Williams is showing her ignorance and being so cheapo! Haven’t you travelled enough to know the rules of airlines and the various class of travelling….OMG, all I can say is she is a whiner ignoramus or just wants to get a better seat without paying for it. No one gets a free pass in this world, the last time I checked.

  2. Do you feel the same way about an empty seat in First Class? Why aren’t you complaining that you can’t move up to the wider seat and get free cocktails?
    Do you feel the same way about an empty seat when you’re not on the plane? Hey, why aren’t you ranting about the airlines not letting people sit in the empty seats who haven’t paid for any ticket? It’s the same arguement. They would be empty anyway, so why not let people just get on the plane at the last minute and fill up all the seats for free? Or a ballgame, or concert, or Broadway show? Exactly the same arguement in each case. Leaving the seat empty preserves its value.

    You are being inconsistent and choosing ONE example to rant about. This means you haven’t thought through the issue, you’re just being selfish and self-absorbed.

    If people move up without paying, then the monetary value of those seats is decreased. There is a value in the extra legroom (or you wouldn’t be interested in cheating by moving up without paying for it) and it doesn’t make sense for ANY company to let customers take something for free that costs the airline. How does it cost? They lose sellable seats by making that room.

    Your rant has no valid arguement. The airlines are completely correct and justified in this situation.

    • J. (Hans) van Leeuwen | February 7, 2012 at 10:38 am |

      My experience with United Airlines is not good either. I went to Almaty, Kazakhstan in November, and my second bag arrived only three days later – wet, with damage to the books inside. I neede these books for the course I was teaching from Day 1, so the delay caused misery to the students too. I have complained and asked for compensation or at least a refund of the bag fee about 20 times from [email protected] and have not had the civility of even an acknowledgement of receipt. I guess that website only works for use to pay them for some dubious services.

      Hans van Leeuwen, Professor at Iowa State University

  3. What a nasty cheap complainer. If you want the seat…pay for it. Tough!!! What a nut!

  4. I’m with you! I was on a regional Delta flight yesterday and asked if I could move up one row (completely empty). I didn’t realize it was “Economy Comfort” which has NO EXTRA LEGROOM, just one row closer to First Class. The flight attendant said no that was for paying customers only. The kicker? She had just asked THE ONLY PERSON in Economy Comfort if they wanted to move up to First Class because there was an extra seat. GO FIGURE.

  5. zirk pershing | April 23, 2016 at 1:05 am | Reply

    United policy for econ plus stink even when you PAY! I flew them for 8 years as they were the only non stop home…ugh hated every min of it. now they are gone…miss non stop, as i have to endure conections but I would put united’s price and service with pakistan air or turkmen air. (never flown those? are you not lucky!)

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