As a former United Premier 1K member, going from top-tier elite to merely a MileagePlus “member” was quite an adjustment, but I still turned down United’s “buy-up” offer to Premier Silver status this year.
Economy Plus seating on United flights offers extra leg-room in a more desirable location on the aircraft (such as closer to the front of the plane and exit rows).
The United website states the following about how MileagePlus elites can receive Economy Plus seating for no extra charge:
MileagePlus Premier Platinum members and higher enjoy advance complimentary access for themselves and up to eight companions, and Premier Gold members enjoy advance complimentary access for themselves and one companion. Premier Silver members continue to enjoy complimentary space-available access to Economy Plus for themselves and one companion upon check-in.
For taller people or those who are uncomfortable in confined-spaces for an extended-period of time, an “upgrade” to Economy Plus seating may very much be worth the extra cash, but there a few ways to avoid paying the additional fee- even if you don’t have status with the airline.
Here are 4 tips that might help you score an Economy Plus seat on your future United flights:
#1. Don’t Assign Yourself a Seat
When purchasing your flight, maybe hold off on selecting a seat until it’s time to check in. On a recent Miami to Newark flight with my mom and two small children, I noticed there were no seats available that would allow us to all sit together as a family; however, there the Economy Plus section looked wide open, so I skipped seat selection all together.
When it was time to check in for the flight, we were automatically assigned row 11, Economy Plus seating, for no extra charge. Being able to fly home together and enjoy extra legroom automatically made it a better flight!
#2. Have a Friend with Status on the Same Flight
If you’re traveling with a friend who has status with United, it shouldn’t be a problem getting an Economy Plus seat for you, even if you’re not traveling on the same reservation. If E+ seating is available, your friend can simply call United ahead of time and provide your booking details to the phone rep if they’re Gold higher. They should also be able to request it for you at the airport before flying.
#3. Be Star Alliance Gold
I have Star Alliance Gold status with Aegean, and I use that status to allow me to get a free-checked bag on United flights and access to United Clubs when traveling domestically. Though Star Alliance Gold status doesn’t officially grant you United Economy Plus seating, I’ve noticed that on some occasions, I do have access to free Economy Plus seating at check-in when I link my Aegean number to my United reservation.
#4. Link Top-Tier Hotel Status to RewardsPlus
Another way to get complimentary United Premier Silver status is by being a Marriott or Starwood Platinum member and linking your MileagePlus account. United Silver status will give you access to Economy Plus seating for you and a companion at check-in.
Have you used any of these tactics to get free Economy Plus seating on United flights before? Or do you have any other strategies to share? Feel free to discuss in the comments!
Learn more about the United MileagePlus Explorer Card