United Makes You Pay To Move To Upgrade Area They Would Have Moved You To Anyway

Joe may have uncovered a deceptive policy at United Airlines that’s screwing over customers. Here’s how it works. If you’ve got an economy ticket and the only seats available are in Economy Plus, but you didn’t spring for the extra Economy Plus fee, you’re asked if you would like to pay the upgrade fee for economy plus seating. If you decline to upgrade, they seat you there anyway. Sounds pretty sketchy to me. Here’s Joe’s story:

When my family were ticketed for an overseas flight at Boston’s Logan International, the clerk processed our tickets but then asked an unexpected question: “Would you like to upgrade to seats with more legroom?” When I asked how much that would cost, he responded “$231.” I declined, since my flight was being paid for by my employer and the upgrade would have come out of my pocket. After a moment of discussion with another clerk, he processed our tickets. We received our tickets and proceeded to the gate for the first leg of our flight.

While waiting for the weather to clear at Dulles to continue our trip, I was attracted to a display from United Airlines that was playing on an LCD TV at the gate. United was showing off their “Economy Plus” seating option, which featured additional leg room in a specific section of the plane, in this case rows (Boeing 777) 17 through 26. (See http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/United_Airlines/United_Airlines_Boeing_777-200_2.php) I pulled out my boarding pass to check my seat assignments, and my entire family was seated in Row 18, within the “Economy Plus” area, even though I had declined to pay the additional fee.

At this point, I recalled the short conversation between the two clerks at Logan, which I had not paid much attention to at the time, but now made sense. My clerk asked the other clerk what “they are supposed to do when the traveler declines.” The other clerk replied that “the company makes them ask, but if they say no he just books them anyway.”

It is now clear to me that Economy was already full, and that additional Economy passengers were being seated in Economy Plus, whether or not they paid to upgrade, which means that the poor schmucks that were booked and ticketed weeks earlier (I made reservations only twelve days prior) for Economy Plus likely paid an upgrade price for the privilege, where I did not. Or, other passengers like myself who were being seated in Economy Plus anyway were subjected to an attempt by the airline to gouge us out of a few more bucks. That sure doesn’t seem right to me.

Best Regards,

Joe S.

Economy Plus Page [United]