United Economy Plus (Is It Worth Upgrading?)

United is one of the best in the world when it comes to offering Premium Economy. The only thing that is poor about this product is that the seat recline is not as good as other Premium Economy offerings. It does offer some extras, such as pillows and premium food.

The launch of United’s new Premium Plus class was a bit of a news event for travelers in 2019. The purple seats are being used on some of the company’s international long-haul flights.

The new seats are being used on some of the company’s international routes, including some of its newer aircraft such as the 787-10. These routes include Los Angeles to Tokyo, Paris to Frankfurt, London to Tel Aviv, and San Francisco to Hong Kong.

The more seats airlines added to planes and the more they cut in order to save money, the more people demanded a better economy experience. This led to the introduction of Premium Economy products.

As airlines cram more seats into tight spaces, they’re making money from new ways to squeeze more out of the crush. One of these is allowing passengers to bid on seats.

In economy class, the number of inches has shrunk dramatically. According to SeatGuru, American, United, and Virgin Atlantic all have seats that are bigger than the 32-inch industry standard. On some flights, even Frontier Airlines has just 30 inches.

Related: How Do I Upgrade to Class on United?

How Much Paying for Premium?

Most airlines don’t offer Premium Economy. But some, like Spirit, do. It’s typically a perk reserved for those who pay an extra fee. Getting more space can be a bit of an advantage when compared to Business Class.

In the US, American, Delta, United, and Virgin America offer Premium economy seats. Although they vary in price, they’re typically reasonable if you’re a tall person.

Allegiant has a product called Legroom+, which gives passengers 34 inches of legroom. It’s also the most affordable option for Premium economy seats.

American’s Main Cabin Extra gives you 34 inches of legroom. However, it’s only available for $20 and costs $55.

Delta recently rebranded its Premium economy as Comfort+, which includes free drinks and movies on video screens. It’s a bit of a shock to see how much legroom it gained.

Frontier’s Stretch seats give you 36 inches of legroom. However, they cost $45 per leg over the airline’s lowest fare.

JetBlue has a similar product called Even More Space, which features 38 inches of seat pitch. It’s available for sale at 16 airports and has a special security line.

Spirit’s new front seats have a 36-inch pitch, and they’re equipped with a 2-by-2 layout. The prices vary depending on distance and travel.

United calls its new economy seats “Economy Plus.” They have a total of 36 inches of legroom. Some planes have so much legroom that people can end up with free seats at the airport.

United’s new seats are available on all of its mainline flights and some larger jets. They’re also available for purchase at airports for free. On a flight between New York and Denver, the economy seats were $150 each way.

Comparison of Economy Vs. Premium Economy

1. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Price

If you’re looking for a flight to a different city, then you should probably go with the economy class. Even if the price is more than you can afford, you will still get the same experience in the plane.

Having said that, being in an economy class is typically not ideal for sleeping. It can be very difficult to get up and move once the plane has stopped moving.

The downside of being in an economy class is that it can ruin the first day of your trip if you have not paid for upgrades.

Even if the price is the biggest factor that you’re looking at, Premium Economy can still provide a better experience than flying in Business Class.

Premium Economy is typically 30% to 90% more expensive than economy.

Business Class can be as expensive as 5 times more expensive than Economy, and it’s 3 times more expensive than Premium Economy.

2. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Loyalty Program

United’s frequent flyer program, MileagePlus, gives members 3 miles for every dollar they spend.

3. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Check-In & Hold Baggage

Premium Economy is the best option for travelers wanting to get priority treatment throughout their journey.

4. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Lounges

United offers excellent lounge access. However, unlike other airlines, Premium Economy passengers do not have access to the same facilities as Business Class passengers. This is because, unlike United, they are not members of United’s frequent flyer programs.

Unfortunately, Premium economy passengers do not have the same lavatories as the economy class.

6. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Seat

There are only 3 rows of seats in Premium Economy Purple, and this is smaller than the Polaris Business Class seats. It allows you to get to the gate faster.

United’s Premium Economy has some of the best in-flight entertainment and comfort seats around. The level of comfort is larger than that of the economy class.

The seats in Premium Economy have a lot more space and are equipped with a leather recliner. You also get free food and alcoholic drinks.

The seat width of Premium Economy is wider than that of its economy counterpart, and the pitch is smaller. Also, the recline is larger in Premium Economy than in economy.

The in-flight pillows and blankets in Premium Economy are the same as in Polaris. Its armrests are also wider, which allows you to use your elbows more.

7. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Seat Recline

Although United’s Premium Economy has plenty of legroom, it doesn’t have the same amount of recline as most economy class seats. This is mainly due to the lack of a leg rest.

8. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Entertainment

In Premium Economy, the monitor has a larger screen than the 9 inch offering of economy class. United has a good selection of on-demand movies and TV shows, and it also has in-seat power and USB work.

9. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Flight Attendants

Flight attendants for United’s Premium Economy have more time than those working for the economy class.

10. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Food

Although the food in Premium Economy is better than the economy, it is still not as good as Business Class. It does have an on-demand snack bar and free drinks.

Across The World Situation

Although international airlines can offer Premium economy, it’s typically more expensive compared to domestic flights. For leisure travelers, I usually don’t find the value in this perk. For instance, on a flight from London to Denver, I paid $1,115 for a Premium economy seat.

Fortunately, there are more airlines that are starting to offer upgrade bidding programs. These systems allow passengers to get an upgrade to Premium economy or to guarantee an open seat next to them in economy class.

I did this once while flying from New York to Berlin. On an Air Berlin flight, I got an upgrade to Premium economy for $158.

Plusgrade is a platform that lets people upgrade to Premium economy without having to pay a fee. It’s available on some of the biggest international airlines, such as Air China, British Airways, and Icelandair. Each airline has its own policy on Plusgrade.

Experts suggest that you bid less than the difference between the economy and the Plusgrade classes. For example, if you’re flying from Icelandair, you only have one more inch of seat pitch.

Although it’s not as luxurious as it used to be, Premium economy is still very good value for people who are traveling long-haul or just need a little more room.

My experience with United has allowed me to book Economyplus seats at no charge.

Before you leave, check the United Baggge Planner for details about the fees and allowances for traveling in Economy Plus. It’s similar to the other classes of United, except that it gives you the same allowance as economy.

I was able to use United’s website to book my flight. Its easy to use and provide more powerful features than many other airlines.

On three flights, I was able to use TSA Pre-Check without any problems. Because United only allows Gold and Platinum members to fly internationally, I spent my time in the airport.

One of the main complaints about United is that their friendly service is typically not compared to that of other premium airlines like Singapore Airlines. In most cases, they have a rude and condescending crew.

On all three flights within a month, the flight attendants were polite and responsive to any questions I had. They were also kind to me, which was a pleasant surprise after years of using United.

Facilities Available in Upgraded Economy

On some transcontinental flights, United uses the Boeing B757 to fly with upgraded economy seats. These seats have the same amount of legroom as those in economy, but with an additional 5 inches of space.

On some flights, United also has a personal video screen with a selection of movies and TV shows, which would keep you entertained for a long flight.

On my last flight, United added more seats that are very uncomfortable for long flights. These seats are equipped with a tiny bit of space, but they’re not as wide as the Boeing planes.

The economy Plus has the same amount of legroom as the standard ones, but there are no screens on the inside. If you’re in an economy seat, this might work for you. If you are in search of for a more comfortable flight, then Premium Economy is for you.

The B737-900 is a slightly larger version of the Boeing 767, and it has slightly more comfortable seats. It also has a personal video screen, making it a more enjoyable long flight.

Conclusion:

United’s Economy Plus is not a real Premium Economy Class. It has the same seat with the same amount of legroom, but it does not offer the same extras as other airlines.

Although the service was better than what I usually used to, I still found the experience to be a bit frustrating. Unfortunately, there were still international flights where there were no screens, which can make the EconomyPlus experience even worse.

Although it’s free to use, there are some fees for the seats. If you’re a tall person, it might be worth it for a little more legroom. Also, make sure to check the plane’s configuration before buying.

United’s economy product is far from the best when compared to other airlines’ Premium Economy offerings. Be careful when buying it as it can be very mediocre.

Although it’s a bit better than the economy, United’s Premium Plus is still not as good as the Polaris Business Class. If you’re looking for a better option, then check out United’s Business Class.

But Business Class can be as expensive as 5 times more expensive as economy.

If you’re looking for a more comfortable flight, then Premium Economy is for you. If you’re not looking for a better option, then United’s First Class is for you.

Related: How to Choose The Best Seat On A Plane