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Sorry United elites — your free rides in premium economy are about to come to an end. The airline’s Premium Plus cabin, currently sold as Economy Plus whenever it appears on a long-haul flight, will soon be designated an entirely different class of service.

The switchover is scheduled to begin on March 30, 2019, with Premium Plus officially launching on the first batch of international routes.

What Is Premium Plus?

Premium Plus is United’s new full-service premium-economy cabin. Seating is similar to what you’ll find in domestic first class, with up to 19 inches of width, 38 inches of pitch and 6 inches of recline.

United Premium plus on the 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Zach Honig.
United Premium plus on the 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Zach Honig.

Passengers also get a 13-inch HD in-flight-entertainment system, individual power and USB outlets, plus an adjustable leg rest and footrest, along with a Saks Fifth Avenue pillow and blanket and noise-reducing headphones.

Customers will be able to select Economy Plus free of charge on all connecting segments that do not have a premium-economy cabin. So a passenger purchasing Premium Plus from Miami (MIA) to Frankfurt (FRA) via Newark (EWR) will be able to sit in an Economy Plus seat on the Miami to Newark segment. Additionally, while Premium Plus tickets don’t include lounge access, customers will be eligible for discounted access to the United Club, with pricing yet to be announced.

Earning, Redeeming and Upgrades

As with all United revenue fares (with the exception of basic economy), Premium Plus flyers will earn elite-qualifying miles and dollars, lifetime miles and award miles based on the purchased fare. Flyers will earn 150% Premium Qualifying Miles (PQMs), plus 1.5 Premier Qualifying Segments per flight. Customers upgrading from economy to Premium Plus will earn miles based on the pre-upgraded fare class.

Premium Plus fare classes include:

  • O (highest revenue fare)
  • A (discounted revenue fare)
  • R (deep-discount revenue fare)
  • ON (award travel)
  • RN (confirmed upgrades)

While passengers remain unable to use a Global Premier Upgrade (GPU) to move from economy to business class on S, T, K, L, G or N fares, there will be no fare class restriction when using a GPU to confirm a seat in Premium Plus, with the exception of upgrades from the basic economy “N” fare class. In other words, a cheap G-class fare is just as upgradeable as a full Y fare.

Premier 1K and Global Services members can apply one GPU to waitlist both Premium Plus and Polaris on the same flight. The GPU will be considered used if Premium Plus is confirmed, though flyers will remain on the waitlist for business class as well, and will be moved up to the airline’s top cabin based on availability.

Customers will receive priority when upgrading from Premium Plus to Polaris. Photo by Zach Honig.
Customers will receive priority when upgrading from Premium Plus to Polaris. Photo by Zach Honig.

Additionally, all paid Premium Plus fares (O, A and R) are fully upgradeable to business class (PN or PZ). Note that customers booking a Premium Plus fare will be prioritized above all economy passengers for waitlisted Polaris business-class upgrades.

Where to Find Premium Plus

United’s new Premium Plus cabin will initially be available on select 777-300ERs, select 777-200ERs and all 787-10 Dreamliners.

As of now, you’ll be able to purchase Premium Plus on the following flights beginning on Dec. 3, for travel beginning March 30. If you travel on another flight with a Premium Plus-equipped aircraft assigned, those seats will be sold as Economy Plus.

777-300ER Schedule

Start Date Flight Depart Time Arrive Time
March 30 UA 179 Newark (EWR) 3:15pm Hong Kong (HKG) 7:10pm
March 30 UA 48 Newark (EWR) 8:10pm Mumbai (BOM) 8:50pm
March 30 UA 90 Newark (EWR) 10:50pm Tel Aviv (TLV) 4:20pm
March 30 UA 79 Newark (EWR) 11:05am Tokyo (NRT) 1:55pm
March 30 UA 58 San Francisco (SFO) 1:50pm Frankfurt (FRA) 9:55am
March 30 UA 869 San Francisco (SFO) 1:00pm Hong Kong (HKG) 6:45pm
March 30 UA 871 San Francisco (SFO) 2:00pm Taipei (TPE) 6:45pm
March 30 UA 954 San Francisco (SFO) 7:45pm Tel Aviv (TLV) 7:55pm
March 30 UA 837 San Francisco (SFO) 11:30am Tokyo (NRT) 2:35pm
April 29 UA 901 San Francisco (SFO) 12:25pm London (LHR) 6:55am

777-200ER Schedule

Start Date Flight Depart Time Arrive Time
March 30 UA 999 Newark (EWR) 6:30pm Brussels (BRU) 7:45am
March 30 UA 57 Newark (EWR) 6:30pm Paris (CDG) 7:45am
March 30 UA 917 San Francisco (SFO) 11:10pm Auckland (AKL) 8:20am
March 30 UA 888 San Francisco (SFO) 10:55am Beijing (PEK) 2:20pm
March 30 UA 926 San Francisco (SFO) 7:15pm Frankfurt (FRA) 3:15pm
April 29 UA 990 San Francisco (SFO) 2:50pm Paris (CDG) 10:35am
March 30 UA 950 Washington, D.C. (IAD) 5:40pm Brussels (BRU) 7:15am
April 29 UA 915 Washington, D.C. (IAD) 5:20pm Paris (CDG) 6:55am
May 22 UA 72 Washington, D.C. (IAD) 10:30pm Tel Aviv (TLV) 4:30pm

787-10 Schedule

Start Date Flight Depart Time Arrive Time
March 30 UA 960 Newark (EWR) 7:40pm Frankfurt (FRA) 9:10am
March 30 UA 84 Newark (EWR) 4:55pm Tel Aviv (TLV) 10:15am
April 29 UA 57 Newark (EWR) 6:40pm Paris (CDG) 7:45am
April 29 UA 120 Newark (EWR) 7:30pm Barcelona (BCN) 9:00am
May 22 UA 999 Newark (EWR) 6:30pm Brussels (BRU) 7:45am
May 22 UA 23 Newark (EWR) 7:25pm Dublin (DUB) 7:05am

 

Eventually, United’s new cabin may be sold on all transatlantic and transpacific flights, in addition to flights to Buenos Aires (EZE), Lima (LIM), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Santiago (SCL) and São Paulo (GRU).

Frequently Asked Questions

United has published a series of FAQs, which I’ll paste here. If you have any more questions, please ask in the comments section below, and we’ll follow up with United.

United Premium plus on the 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Zach Honig.
United Premium plus on the 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Zach Honig.

Question: What is United Premium Plus?

Answer: United Premium Plus is a new premium economy experience that includes added space, comfort and amenities to provide our customers with more options. The new experience includes a roomier seat, larger entertainment screen and dedicated overhead bins. Customers will also receive upgraded dining and beverage options and high-end amenities to make the travel experience more relaxing and comfortable.

Q: What is the difference between Economy Plus and United Premium Plus?

A: All customers in United Premium Plus will enjoy an even more spacious seat with more legroom, elbow room and recline, as well as a larger entertainment screen. Customers will receive additional perks at the airport and on board. At the airport, travelers will receive two free standard checked bags, United Club access at a discounted price and Premier Access. On board, customers seated in United Premium Plus will receive an elevated dining experience with complimentary alcoholic beverages as well as custom dinnerware with flatware and a cloth napkin.

Q: Is this replacing Economy Plus?

A: No. Our United Premium Plus is separate from Economy Plus with added comfort and more. United Premium Plus is another option for customers on top of the other options we offer, including Economy, Economy Plus and United Polaris business class.

Q: What is the price difference between this fare and United Polaris business class or Economy Plus?

A: The price difference depends on each flight. United Premium Plus fares will vary based on time of booking, route and availability.

Q: Will MileagePlus members be eligible for upgrades from United Premium Plus to United Polaris business class?

A: Yes, members will be able to upgrade from upgrade-eligible United Premium Plus fares to United Polaris business class.

Q: On most long-haul international flights, will MileagePlus members still be able to use a MileagePlus Upgrade Award to upgrade from Economy to United Polaris business class?

A: Yes, price points will exist for a MileagePlus member to move from United Economy to a United Premium Plus seat, from a United Premium Plus seat to United Polaris business class cabin, and from United Economy to United Polaris business class. On flights with United Premium Plus, members seated in United Economy will be able to request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award for both a United Premium Plus seat and the United Polaris business class cabin. For more information, see MileagePlus Upgrade Awards.

Q: On most long-haul international flights, will MileagePlus members still be able to use a Global Premier Upgrade to upgrade from United Economy to United Polaris business class?

A: Yes. We’re giving members the option of using a single Global Premier Upgrade to request a move to a United Premium Plus seat, an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin, or both. If a member would like to be considered for both a United Premium Plus seat and the United Polaris business class cabin, we will move the member to whichever seat becomes available first. If the first available seat is a United Premium Plus seat and the member chose to be considered for both a United Premium Plus seat and the United Polaris business class cabin, we will continue looking for space in the United Polaris business class cabin for the customer without requiring an additional Global Premier Upgrade.

Q: Will MileagePlus members earn award miles or Premier qualifying credit when they book in United Premium Plus?

A: Yes. MileagePlus members who purchase revenue tickets in United Premium Plus will be eligible for award miles based on fare paid, lifetime miles and Premier qualifying credit. Members will earn 150% Premier qualifying miles and 1.5 Premier qualifying segments when they purchase a fare in United Premium Plus

Q: Will MileagePlus members be able to book award travel in United Premium Plus?

A: Yes, award travel will be offered in United Premium Plus once the product is available.

Q: What’s the dining experience on United Premium Plus flights?

A: Dining in United Premium Plus will vary based on the route and time of flight. Along with a hearty welcome meal at the beginning of the flight, customers will enjoy mid-flight snacks and pre-arrival dining service. Beer, wine, liquor and non-alcoholic beverages will be complimentary. You can get an idea of the beverages offered on our Inflight Beverage Selection page, but please note that they’ll vary by flight.

Bottom Line

United Premium plus on the 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Zach Honig.
United Premium plus on the 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Zach Honig.

United’s Premium Plus cabin goes on sale on Monday, Dec. 3, so we’ll have a much better idea of pricing and award rates/availability then. Assuming the fares are reasonable, though, the airline’s new premium-economy product will certainly be a compelling addition and a decent consolation for coach flyers who aren’t able to confirm an upgrade to business class.

For more on United Premium Plus, see:

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