United Details Preferred Seating, Coming Later This Year

Aug 14, 2018

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.

American and Delta both designate some seating as “preferred” in their economy cabins, so it was only a matter of time before United made this “enhancement,” too.

United’s offering, expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, was buried in yesterday’s Corporate Preferred program announcement — we’ve since managed to get a bit more detail, though:

“Beginning later this year, at time of booking, select standard economy seats typically closer to the front of the aircraft behind Economy Plus will be available for Corporate Preferred Elite Customers and United MileagePlus Premier customers, free of charge. If these seats are not filled, they will be opened for all customers to select at check-in, free of charge. These preferred seats will be available for purchase for all other customers at time of booking.”

As illustrated in yesterday’s Airbus A319 seat map, preferred seats will be located just behind Economy Plus, and they may or may not include middle seats, depending on the aircraft and row.

Because they’re closer to the front, passengers booking a preferred seat will have earlier access to food and beverage options, and will be able to deplane more quickly. These seats will also be more likely to be left unreserved until just before departure, giving last-minute elite bookers an opportunity to avoid a middle seat even if Economy Plus is already full.

United’s preferred seats will be located just behind Economy Plus, though they won’t offer extra legroom. Photo by Zach Honig.

So far, United hasn’t even hinted at pricing, though there will be a charge for customers without elite status. Hopefully UA will undercut Delta’s pricing, though, which currently runs a whopping $75 each way between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) — Comfort+ costs about twice as much.

Meanwhile, American is charging even less for its Main Cabin Extra product on the same route — and rather than selling preferred seats at booking, AA appears to be holding them back for elites.

Overall, preferred seating is good news for elites booking last-minute tickets, but it could severely limit the free seating options for families who don’t book flights months in advance. Fortunately, anyone will be able to pick a preferred seat for free at check-in, though, so customers previously separated may have another shot at sitting next to family and friends — assuming those coveted preferred seats aren’t all booked up by paying passengers and elites.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.