United Economy Plus Upgrade Tips
Rewards Credit Cards
Avatar_160_hilary
Hilary Stockton
Google+

My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Four Seasons Preferred Partner, VirtuosoPeninsula Hotels PenClub, Dorchester Diamond Club, Belmond Bellini Club, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Langham CoutureRitz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges, Rocco Forte and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

GOT A BLOG POST IDEA?
Have a travel question we haven't covered yet? Want to share your secrets for traveling well for less?

United Economy Plus Upgrade Tips

 

TravelSort reader Mike writes "What are the ways to get a free upgrade to United Economy Plus? I'm 6'3 and am really tired of having my knees jammed up against the seat in front of me (and of course the guy or gal in front of me is even less pleased) but would like to avoid paying the additional fee for Economy Plus if I can."

Mike's question is probably common to a lot of folks that fly United even occasionally, and would love a free upgrade to United Economy Plus, with more legroom. Unfortunately a free upgrade isn't that easy. Here are the top ways to get it:

1. Be a United Premier Gold, Premier Platinum or Premier 1K to Upgrade to United Economy Plus at Time of Booking

On both paid tickets and award tickets, United elites with Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1K or Global Services status are able to upgrade to United Economy Plus at the time of booking.

 

2. Be a United Premier Silver to Upgrade to United Economy Plus at Time of Check-In

United Premier Silver members are only able to upgrade to United Economy Plus at the time of check-in (24 hours before departure), *not* at the time of booking.

 

3. Be on the Same Reservation as a United Elite

If you're traveling on the same reservation as a United Elite, you're able to upgrade to United Economy Plus with the same time frame as that members. Note that United Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members can upgrade up to 8 people traveling on the same reservation, but United Gold and United Silver members may only upgrade 1 person traveling on the same reservation.

 

4. Be Star Alliance Gold and Get Lucky 

Officially, even with Star Alliance Gold status, you're not entitled to United Economy Plus seating. In practice, some Star Alliance Gold members are lucky enough to be able to select a United Economy Plus seat at time of check-in, similar to United Premier Silver members.

 

5. Be on a Business or First Class Award Flight and Ask Nicely

If you booked an international business or first class United award ticket with the requisite number of United miles, but a segment didn't have award availability so you're seated in Economy, you may have luck by asking nicely at check-in, the lounge or the gate. There's no guarantee, but also no harm in asking.

 

6. Be Bumped Up Because There's No Space in Economy

If you have no United elite status, you could get very lucky if on a full flight such that you have a ticket but don't have a seat assignment. 

 

7. Pay and Get a Free United Economy Plus Upgrade with the Barclays Arrival Card

If you don't qualify for United Economy Plus for free via one of the above ways, you'll need to pay if you want it. If the Economy Plus section isn't full, you may even be able to pay with a credit card on board.

The good news is that if you get the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard with a 40,000 points bonus and pay for your United Economy Plus upgrade with it, you can get a statement credit that refunds your United Economy Plus upgrade fee. The 40,000 bonus equates to $440 in free travel, when you rebate charges from these travel categories: airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, motels, resorts, cruise lines, passenger railways, and car rental agencies.

 

FAQ

Isn't There a United Economy Plus Annual Pass?

There used to be one; as of March 2012 United stopped selling these.

 

If I'm a United Elite But My Non-Elite Partner is Traveling on the Same Flight but a Separate Ticket Can I Get a Free United Economy Plus Upgrade for Him or Her?

Officially, no--your elite status allows you to upgrade up to 8 companions traveling on the *same reservation* to United Economy Plus. Companions on other tickets, even though they're on the same flight, are not eligible. That said, you may be lucky and get a sympathetic United agent to upgrade your partner anyway. 

 

How Do I See What United Economy Plus Will Cost?

Simply mouse over an Economy Plus seat while making your reservation, and you should be able to see the additional cost. The price is added to your total reservation cost.

 

Why Are There Different Prices for Different Economy Plus Seats?

United varies the pricing of Economy Plus seats even within the same cabin on the same flight by row and type (window, aisle, middle) and also varies the pricing over time, just as it does with other seats on the plane.

 

Can I Get a Refund of My United Economy Plus Seat?

Only if you weren't actually seated in Economy Plus, for example due to an equipment change, etc. Unfortunately, even if you paid more to select a certain Economy Plus window seat but were reseated in an Economy Plus middle seat, you wouldn't be entitled to a refund. The United terms state: "An Economy Plus purchase reserves a seat within the Economy Plus seating area. Specific seat assignments are not guaranteed." Seems somewhat unfair, but those are the terms.

The good news is that you may even receive goodwill compensation in addition to your United Economy Plus refund. See United Economy Plus Refund and Goodwill Miles for Downgrade.

Do you have other tips for scoring United Economy Plus upgrades?

Related Posts

Best Premium Economy Airline Seats

United Business First Review

United Club Card Annual Fee Waived: Worth It?

Flying with Kids: Tips for Taking Toddlers on Long Plane Flights

Best Airlines for Kids and Families

 

Need Award Booking Help? Our fee is as low as $75 per ticket if you book your hotel through us.

If you enjoyed this, join 150,000+ readers: please follow TravelSort on Twitter or  like us on Facebook to be alerted to new posts. 

Become a TravelSort Client and Book Your Hotel with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred VIP Amenities!

  • |
  • Print
    print |
Related Articles
Comments
Picture?type=large Ella B. commented 25 Jun 2014
Hi all, FYI: My mom just flew away for vacation using UnitedAirlines service on June 11, 2014. She is 66 years old and she has her knee problem. So, I bought her Economy Plus seats within her booked tickets on United.com. When my mom reached to destination, she called me and I asked her about how was the seat. She told me that the room between all seats in the entire aircraft absolutely the same and there was no reason to buy Economy Plus seats... so we paid money what for?... (it was aircraft Boeing 747-400, flight UA903, from San Francisco, at 2:10PM.) I'm so disappointed and I want to get my money back. I'm going to open claim to United, and if the will not refund, I will sue them.
Picture?type=large Richard P. commented 25 Nov 2014
Hilary, Thanks for the article! You wrote that with "the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard...you can get a statement credit that refunds your United Economy Plus upgrade fee." That sounds great but I can't find confirmation of that. Where did you get that from? Thanks, - Rich
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Nov 2014
Richard, the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard comes with a 40,000 point signup bonus after meeting minimum spend of $3000, so after meeting minimum spend you'd have 46,000 points that can be used as a statement credit for $460 for a travel expense incurred on the card. That could be a United Economy Plus upgrade fee or any other qualifying travel expense you put on the card--hope that helps!
Picture?type=large Lis G. commented 06 Feb 2016
Hi Hilary! I have a question: Do you know if there is any price difference for purchasing the Economy Plus upgrade on reservation time or on check-in counter? Thanks!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 06 Feb 2016

Lis, generally the price for Economy Plus remains the same at check-in for a given route (most of the price differences depend on route/route length), if available (it will even be sold on the plane if there are empty Economy Plus seats), but on popular flights there may be few if any Economy Plus available at time of check-in, since United elites get Economy Plus free. Also, those passengers without seat assignments in Economy would be given Economy Plus if Economy completely fills up (though this is a risky strategy, since if you don't select an Economy seat you may find yourself assigned to a middle seat in Economy at the back of the plane--and even if you do get assigned to Economy Plus, it's likely to be a middle seat). So I recommend paying for Economy Plus at time of booking if it's what you want and if you're not elite.

Picture?type=large Tri H. commented 16 Nov 2016
Hello Hilary, Not sure if you know, but if I pay for an Economy Plus upgrade and then decide to pay for a First Class upgrade, would I be refunded the original Economy Plus upgrade fee?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 17 Nov 2016
Yes, you're automatically refunded the Economy Plus fee if you pay for a First Class upgrade. AFAIK, the main time you're not refunded a United Economy Plus fee is if you receive a Complimentary Premier Upgrade (CPU): https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/products/travelproducts/Pages/EconomyPlus.aspx
Picture?type=large Suzy M. commented 07 Dec 2016
If we are flying economy on reward seats and have United Silver Premier status (through Marriott Platinum) would we have access to Economy Plus upgrade? If so, how would we request at time of online check-in?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 07 Dec 2016
Suzy, yes, as a United Silver you do have a chance for a complimentary United Economy Plus upgrade at check-in 24 hours before departure, so I recommend checking in exactly 24 hours prior. Keep in mind that Premier Silver is behind higher elite status flyers, so on popular/full flights there's unlikely to be Economy Plus seats left.
Picture?type=large Suzy M. commented 07 Dec 2016
So is there somewhere on the check-in where one can ask for the complimentary upgrade on-line? Or do you need to call? We're on a flight from SFO to Heathrow, April 4 (Tuesday). Would Economy Plus seats be likely all booked? Thanks.
Leave a Comment
Comment
Facebook-logo
Rewards Credit Cards
Get Free Email Blog Updates
Popular Articles
Square_100k_chase_sapphire_reserve_bonus_posted_and_3x_travel_categories
10/30/2016
  My 100K Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus has posted, helping replenish our Ultimate Rewards points balance after transferring some points earlier this year to Singapore KrisFlyer for 2017 travel.  One of the things I like about Chase Ultimate Rewards is...
Square_chase_change_to_annual_fee_refund_policy
10/23/2016
  Chase has changed its annual fee refund policy: you now have 30 days to get a refund of the annual fee, from the date the annual fee posts to your account, and there is no prorating of the annual...
Square_100k_chase_sapphire_reserve_approved_as_chase_private_client
11/5/2016
  Success: My husband was approved for a 100K Chase Sapphire Reserve after becoming a Chase Private Client. When the Chase Sapphire Reserve first launched on August 21, 2016, I assumed that neither of us would be able to get...
Square_cathay_pacific_first_class_review-seat_1d
11/15/2016
  This Review of Cathay Pacific First Class from Hong Kong to Los Angeles LAX is from a recent Hong Kong trip that included Cathay Pacific First Class lounges in Hong Kong and luxury hotel stays in Vietnam and Hong Kong. Visiting...
Square_review-ritz-carlton_hong_kong-club_grand_victoria_harbour_room
10/31/2016
  This Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Review of a Club Grand Victoria Harbour Room is from a recent Hong Kong trip that included Cathay Pacific First Class and luxury hotel stays in Vietnam. Visiting Hong Kong? See all our articles tagged Hong Kong....
Square_100k_amex_platinum_bonus_offer-act_now
11/23/2016
  Update: Application Link has expired. Please see Best Travel Credit Cards for the current best credit card offers.  -------- A 100K AMEX Platinum Bonus Offer is available--act fast if you haven't had this card before and want the 100,000 Membership Rewards...
Square_amex_business_platinum_spend_bonus_posted
10/21/2016
  AMEX Platinum added a 5X airfare benefit effective October 6 2016, and the AMEX Business Platinum added a 1.5X earning rate for transactions of $5000 or more. I was pretty disappointed that the AMEX Business Platinum, which is the...
Square_top_8_amex_offers-staples-ana-delta-conrad-waldorf_astoria-hilton_and_more
11/3/2016
Several AMEX Offers are being targeted to card members now, and there are some better travel-related offes than I've seen for awhile. Generally, at least for my AMEX cards, the past few months have had pretty abysmal offers, for retailers...
Square_80k_ink_business_preferred_launching_soon
10/19/2016
  An 80K Chase Ink Business Preferred Card will launch later this year, and since it's already late October, that means relatively soon. This is on the heels of rumors that the Ink Plus would soon be getting rid of...
Square_buy_spg_points_at_50_percent_off
11/1/2016
  You can buy SPG Starpoints at 50% off, if targeted. If you are, you could buy up to 30,000 Starpoints at 50% off, for $525 instead of $1050, which is buying them at 1.75 cents per point. That's a...