Starting today, United Airlines has a new policy. If you can’t fit into a single seat, you need to buy another one or stay behind.
In order to fly for no extra charge, passengers now have to be able to sit in a single seat, buckle their seat belt (with an extender) and put the arm rests down. If you can’t do this, you’re going to need to buy another ticket — unless there is already a seat available with another open seat next to it.
Spokesperson Robin Urbanski Janikowski told MSNBC, “If there is another seat on the airplane that is next to an empty seat, we will re-accommodate our guest in that seat and there is no charge.”
Here’s the official word from United:
For the comfort and well-being of all customers aboard United flights, we have aligned with other major airlines’ seating policies relating to passengers who:
are unable to fit into a single seat in the ticketed cabin;
are unable to properly buckle the seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender; and/or
are unable to put the seat’s armrests down when seated.
Any customer ticketed on a United or United Express flight and meeting one or more of these criteria must either purchase a ticket for an additional seat, or purchase an upgrade to a cabin with seats that address the above-listed scenarios. The seat purchase or upgrade must be completed for each leg of the itinerary. If a customer meeting any of the above-listed criteria decides not to upgrade or purchase a ticket for an additional seat, he or she will not be permitted to board the flight.
This policy applies to tickets purchased on or after March 4, 2009, for travel on or after April 15, 2009.
Please understand that we care a great deal about all of our customers’ well-being, and we have implemented this policy to help ensure that everyone’s travel experiences with United are comfortable and pleasant.
A few more details. The extra seat will be charged at the same rate as the first seat, but if there are no more seats available the passenger will be required to rebook on the next United flight that has seating available. If the passenger doesn’t want to do this, they’ll be given a full refund.
Your extra ticket will come with extra baggage allowances, so if you’d checked two bags and paid a first and second bag fee— you’d be charged two first bag fees instead.
Carry-on limits, however, are the same.