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Is Moving to an Empty Seat Considered Theft?

United Airlines is going viral for their Twitter response to a passenger complaining that they weren’t allowed to move to an empty seat in Economy Plus on their flight. But while @krunasty thought he should be allowed to nab any seat, United compared a move from economy to economy plus to stealing.  

You’re on a flight with a bunch of empty seats and you’re stuck in a cramped spot packed in between other people. When boarding is complete, do you move to another seat? And would it be OK to move to a larger seat? For some people, a move from economy to first class is clearly out of bounds. The curtain, for one, makes it clear that you’re entering a very different part of the plane with a much higher class of service.

But what about moving from your economy seat to preferred economy—economy seats like the exit row and those closer to the front of the plane that United charges more for—or even to an Economy Plus seat? Is that also way out of bounds? That’s the United Airlines debate that went viral on Twitter. Passenger Krunal thought it should have been fine to move from regular economy to Economy Plus. But United Airlines’ social media rep said that it was tantamount to stealing.

Here’s what happened.

In a now-deleted tweet from user krunasty, the passenger questioned the airline on why they were unable to move to an economy seat with more legroom once the flight was ready for takeoff. United replied with two comments:

Replies to the tweets are mixed as to whether the policy is correct or just poor customer service.

What do you think? Let us know in the FlyerTalk Forums.


[Featured Image: United]

Comments are Closed.
fish3d January 13, 2020

Nice to have a vacant seat next to you but then it gets filled by someone unhappy with their assignment?

MileageAddict January 10, 2020

If the airline turned a blind eye to this practice, many more passengers would refrain from buying Economy + and simply wait until the plane doors were closed to scramble to the better seats. Enforcing the policy helps UA ensure they generate revernue from the Econ + seats.

amt January 10, 2020

Just sit in it anyway... ‘stealing’ *rolls eyes* some people have far too much affinity for a company that literally would drag them kicking and screaming from their seat if it suited them and really should be discussing what deficiencies in their personal relationships that cause them to feel so strongly about protecting the integrity of the empty seat with an extra 2-3 inches...

caromill October 7, 2019

However, I've been on UA flights where customers were moved from the last rows to the front of the cabin (E+) in order to balance the load. Each had an empty row. I was in an upgraded (United Silver) E+ seat with a full row and I would have been happy to have the chance to stretch out, but it wasn't allowed.

Baracuda618 September 12, 2019

In this case, UA is correct. I always pay for either Business or Economy Comfort plus. One should be able to move within a class. However, one should not be able to move to a higher class without paying (unless, of course, they can prove that they are a status that allows the movement without additional cost).