I'm a fan of more legroom, especially on longer flights, and don't mind paying a reasonable premium for it, whether it's in the form of miles for an upgrade or cash. (On the other hand, to put "reasonable" into perspective, I've never paid the published fare for a business- or first-class ticket. With prices at 10 or more times higher than coach, premium-class tickets just don't make economic sense, even if my employer is picking up the tab.)
As one of the few affordable paid upgrade options, United's Economy Plus is a winning combination of price and comfort.
Economy Plus is a block of coach seats with up to five extra inches of legroom, situated behind United's business or first class but in front of the normal coach section. So, more comfort during the flight—just a few more inches makes an outsized difference—and faster boarding and exiting.
It's not first class, but it's enough of an upgrade to significantly improve the travel experience, and do so affordably.
And with this new promotion, it's even more affordable.
Through November 12, United customers can save up to 40 percent when purchasing an upgrade to Economy Plus. The deadline is for booking; travel can take place any time.
Some sample one-way Economy Plus surcharges, showing the normal and discounted prices:
- Denver to Colorado Springs - normally $9, reduced to $5
- Chicago to St. Louis - normally $14, reduced to $9
- Washington-Dulles to Boston - normally $19, reduced to $14
- Los Angeles to Dallas - normally $39, reduced to $34
- San Francisco to Newark - normally $59, reduced to $49
The sale prices are available when purchased more than 24 hours prior to flight departure.
Continental has no Economy Plus section, so this offer only applies to United aircraft. The future of Economy Plus? According to United, "Now that our merger has legally closed, we will be working in the months ahead to combine the products and services from each airline that our customers value most."
Deal or No Deal
If $59 is a palatable surcharge to upgrade on a cross-country flight—and it probably is, in my view—then it's that much more palatable when discounted to $49.
Elite members of United's Mileage Plus program and United Global Services members are automatically upgraded to Economy Plus seats, if they're available. So promotions like this potentially put United's best customers, who get Economy Plus for free, in competition with non-elites, who pay for the privilege. After all, there are only so many Economy Plus seats on every flight.
How United balances the interests of the two groups will be telling.
Reader Reality Check
Have you tried Economy Plus?
Is the surcharge worth paying?
If you're a United elite, have you found Economy Plus upgrades as available as they once were?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.