United follows Delta’s lead, allows you to opt out of middle-seat ‘upgrades’
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Hate getting stuck in a middle seat?
Well, you might be able to avoid one on your next United flight as the carrier just expanded its seating preference options for standby travelers.
Previously, you could only state your preference for an aisle or window seat. Now, you’ll find three new options in the United app when you’re on the standby or upgrade list for a given flight.
Pending availability, you’ll be able to opt out of the following three seating types:
- Extra-legroom Economy Plus middle seats.
- Bulkhead seats.
- Exit row seats.
Though extra-legroom seats may be more comfortable, many travelers would prefer to sacrifice the extra pitch for an aisle or a window seat in the back of the plane.
The same is true for bulkhead seats. While they offer added legroom thanks to the positioning of the cabin wall or closet, your under-seat storage is limited, and the TV screens and tray tables are fixed in the armrest or seat itself.
As for exit rows, some of the seats don’t recline, and sitting there requires agreeing to assist in the case of an emergency, which might not be everyone’s preference.
United will automatically begin assigning seats, based on your choices and availability, an hour before international flights and 30 minutes before domestic ones.
Note that this new option only collects your seat preference. You’ll still clear the standby or upgrade list even if you’d rather avoid the seat types that are remaining. Additionally, the waitlist will still clear in priority order, with seat preferences only being considered when it’s your turn to be processed.
In explaining the move to TPG, the airline shared that this enhancement was designed to improve the travel experience. “Knowing what our customers prefer and doing our best to honor those based on availability during the standby seat assignment process makes for an even better United travel experience,” according to the airline.
Delta first pioneered a similar seating preference feature back in 2017 to help elites avoid the dreaded middle-seat “upgrade.” Before then, the Atlanta-based carrier would automatically upgrade eligible Medallions to any available extra-legroom Comfort+ seat.
Some people who’d selected non-Comfort+ exit-row seats found themselves “upgraded” to a middle seat in Comfort+, while others wound up in a bulkhead seat on a regional jet with a large backpack or briefcase — hardly a better spot.
Delta listened to feedback and has since implemented a feature to allow elites to opt in for Comfort+ upgrades, along with a choice of seat preferences: aisle, window or middle.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy .
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees