United now selling Premium Plus on select domestic flights

Sep 28, 2019

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Bad news, United elites: The jig is up. As of Wednesday, October 2, United’s domestic Premium Plus seats will be sold as a separate cabin on flights between Newark and Los Angeles and San Francisco — it’ll no longer be possible for elites to assign these seats for free — meaning you’ll actually need to purchase a Premium Plus fare (in the O, ON, A, R, RN fare classes) in order to sit there. Meanwhile, if you’ve already assigned yourself a Premium Plus seat for flights after Wednesday, you’ve likely been moved to Economy Plus.

Fares appear to start at $413 each way, though they’re priced relative to the lowest economy fare: If economy is more expensive on any given flight, Premium Plus will be, too. The good news is that with this launch, customers will earn additional elite-qualifying credits, accruing Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) and Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) at a 150% rate. Additionally, customers in a paid Premium Plus fare class have the highest priority for upgrades.

On board, Premium Plus customers will find a seat that’s similar to what you’ll get in domestic first class — essentially a larger recliner, with an HD seat-back entertainment system — but with service that’s more aligned with what United offers in economy. Premium Plus passengers will also get a complimentary meal, though it’s not yet clear whether this will be identical to business class or what’s typically available to transcon Economy Plus flyers.

United's 787-10 Premium Plus cabin. Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
United’s 787-10 Premium Plus cabin. Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Naturally, as is typical for Premium Plus fares in the international market, redemption rates are bonkers. For example, the lowest awards I’m seeing are priced at 40,000 miles each way, compared with 12,500 miles for economy.

Meanwhile, you can book limited saver lie-flat business awards for 35,000 miles each way — in some cases, even on the same day! (Uhh, definitely do that, instead.)

Considering Everyday Awards in business class are available for 50,000 miles on almost every day of the year, I’d definitely spend the extra 10k miles for United’s true Polaris seat, which you’ll find on all flights operated by the 787-10. So, unless the fare is exceptional, or United reduces redemption rates, I’d generally avoid Premium Plus for now.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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