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United Airlines

United Quietly Began Charging for Selecting the Most Desirable Seatsin December

United Quietly Began Charging for Selecting the Most Desirable Seatsin December
Scott Dylan

Get ready to pay more if you want to select your seat on your next United flight. United Airlines is officially joining the trend of charging extra for seat selection in economy class. The new arrangement became effective on Dec. 14. However, you may not have noticed it if you were taking a break from flying to be home for the holidays. Which seats are being deemed more valuable by the powers that be at United? Economy seats that are located near the front of the cabin will cost you extra going forward.

It’s understandable if you’re not exactly shocked by the revelation that United plans to charge customers extra for desirable seats in its economy cabins. After all, United is simply following a trend that was started by rival airlines. Both Delta and American already charge extra for passengers who want coach seats that are considered to be more desirable than average. The carriers only measure desirability based on location. The pricier coach seats offered by Delta and American truly are just normal seats. You won’t get any extra pitch or legroom when you fork over extra money for “elite” coach seats. The same goes for the seats on United flights that have been deemed more valuable. The legroom will stay the same even though prices will rise.

How much more are people forking over for the privilege of choosing their seats these days? The cost for desirable coach seats isn’t exactly cheap. A person can expect to pay up to $80 extra for a preferred seat in economy on routes like the one between New York and Los Angeles. Of course, you can expect to pay much less on other routes. The fee per seat is going to depend on the route you book, the aircraft you fly on and the level of demand you encounter at any given point in the year.

United is giving customers a flicker of hope as we arrive in the new year. The airline is finally allowing members of its MileagePlus loyalty program to earn credit when they fly using basic-economy tickets. Of course, credit will be earned at a reduced rate when you’re flying with ultra-cheap tickets. You’ll only get 50 percent of the qualifying miles and half of a qualifying segment if you travel using bottom-tier tickets. United will be offering full credit for each dollar spent on a ticket.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (3)


  1. Proudelitist

    January 18, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    I for one, welcome this. Having paid for a specific seat gives you more backing to refuse to swap and give the airline less incentive to move you, if they have to compensate you for it.

  2. htb

    January 19, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    People partying $80 for a standard seat a few rows in front of a seat they can reserve for free obviously have too much money to spend — or are unable to comprehend the total cost incurred.

  3. FlyingNone

    January 22, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    On principal I would absolutely not do this. No one should be “forced” to pay for a guarantee to NOT GET a middle seat. I don’t care if I have to sit on a toilet. I’ll just hope to default to an aisle or window when that family that wants to sit together, attached at the hip, will “trade” my middle seat for their aisle or window to be next to their loved one, teen, child, whatever. Otherwise I’ll just sit in my middle seat and hog the armrests, foot area, etc.

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