Flying United? Don’t switch seats once you’re on board

Sep 8, 2019

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A unique response given by United Airlines’ social media team to a passenger who requested to move to an empty seat after the doors were closed has gone viral.

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about leaving a full row if so many coach seats were available on a flight, but United explained why these particular seats were different.

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With the advent of different classes of service in the economy cabin, the waters have been muddied a bit. While we wouldn’t expect to walk from economy into first class and grab an empty seat, some travelers feel as they should be allowed to move around the economy cabin once the door is closed. But it’s no surprise that United, like most other airlines, require passengers to pay for premium coach seats.

Most frequent flyer programs are based partly on the concept of upgrades; buy an economy ticket and if you have status and there are open seats you might get an upgrade. Passengers in first may have also paid for their tickets while others were upgraded — at no additional cost — because they are loyal customers.

In the end, it’s a gamble. When a customer with elite status buys an economy ticket, they are hoping for an upgrade, but it’s not guaranteed. It’s doubtful this passenger purchased an economy ticket hoping there might be open seats in Economy Plus so they could move — for free —to after boarding was complete.

Note: This post was clarified to explain that United, like other airlines, require passengers to pay for premium economy seats.

Featured Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG

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