United Now Allows Basic Economy Passengers to Select Their Seat, Adds Wi-Fi Subscriptions

Feb 2, 2018

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United is making some changes to the passenger experience, and that includes passengers with a basic economy ticket. As of February 1, basic economy passengers can pay extra to select a seat for their flight, and beginning February 2, United will begin selling Wi-Fi subscription packages for all passengers.

According to an internal memo, United now allows basic economy passengers to select their seat — under a few conditions. If you have a basic economy ticket, you’ll be allowed to pay for a seat of your choosing as long as it’s done prior to 24 hours of departure. The cost of the seat selection will vary based on the specific seat chosen in the main cabin.

While you can defeat United’s basic economy restriction with its co-branded credit cards, one of the inescapable downfalls of basic economy has always been seat selection. While a co-branded card, such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card or the United MileagePlus Club Card, allow you to bypass basic economy baggage and boarding rules, there was no way to get around the lack of seat assignment until check-in. Now, basic economy flyers have the option to purchase it ahead of time. So, if you’re a cardholder of the United co-brand cards, you have the ability to make the in-flight experience about the same as that of regular economy passengers — just be prepared to fork over some cash for the seat selection.

The second new feature comes in the form of subscription packages for in-air internet access. As of Friday, you can purchase from a number of Wi-Fi plans. Packages start at $49 or 7,500 miles, and they’re available pre-flight or in-flight via United.com. You can pay for the subscription by credit card or by using MileagePlus miles.

Wi-Fi subscriptions are nonrefundable and non-transferrable. Subscription packages are also only offered by region — if you’re traveling outside of your selected region, the subscription will not apply. Cash refunds will not be issued in instances where Wi-Fi is not working.

Overall, these are both positive additions from United. Giving basic economy passengers the opportunity to select their seat — of course, for a fee — plus the decision to implement subscription Wi-Fi services makes sense. As View From the Wing notes, a passenger who purchases a Wi-Fi subscription package will be more inclined to travel with United in the future to make sure the subscription doesn’t go to waste.

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