Choosing the seats on your flight is quite the hot topic these days. The airlines are trying to squeeze every ounce of space out of their flights and travelers are trying to retain as much comfort as humanly possible. For these reasons, shouldn’t you pay attention to what sort of seat your ticket buys?
CheapAir.com has done the research so you have this important information at your fingertips. The measurements and rules from airline to airline are not standard, so make sure you’re doing an apples to apples comparison depending on your airline, itinerary and aircraft. First up – the skinny on United Airlines seat selection!
Basic Economy is United’s most inexpensive fare – think of it as your “bare bones” option. It’s always going to be the best price, but it comes without the option to select your own seat, or change your seat should it not meet your approval. When you buy a Basic Economy ticket, you leave the seat selection in the hands of the airline and you do not have the flexibility to make any changes even if you’re a Mileage Plus member. Customers who purchase Basic Economy do the best when they’re motivated by price alone and don’t mind where on the plane they’ll be sitting. The main sticking point is that you can’t upgrade after the fact to get yourself better seating if you’re not happy with Basic Economy seating. Generally speaking, you can recline your seat 4” in a Basic Economy seat. Seat pitch, which is the measurement from a point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front of it and usually is correlated to legroom) is typically 31” in Basic Economy. Keep this in mind when you book!
An Economy fare on a United flight allows you to self-select your seat and travel with a personal item plus carry-on at no extra charge. When you purchase an Economy ticket, you also have the flexibility to buy upgrades and Economy Plus (when available). Mileage Plus Premier members also receive “seat benefits,” though the site is a little vague on what extra seat benefits this elite status provides. The seat measurements in Economy are exactly the same as they are in Basic Economy (seats recline can recline 4” in an Economy seat with a 31” seat pitch). The seat width is often slightly wider in Economy than in Basic Economy. Overall, many passengers find these incremental comforts worth the extra cost.
The main draw for Economy Plus is the 5 inches of extra legroom you’ll get – yes, we said 5 inches! The seats in Economy Plus are at the front of the Economy cabin as well, which means you’ll be first off the plane and on your way upon landing. Economy Plus is available on all United Flights and on most United Express flights. You are permitted to change seats at no extra cost, if the seat you prefer is priced the same. If you choose a seat that is more than your original purchase, that seat will be refunded and the new, more expensive seat will have to be purchased in full. In the unlikely event that you purchase an Economy Plus seat but the airline is unable to accommodate you, United will refund the difference in cost. In general, your seat will recline 5” in Economy Plus. Seat pitch is 34”.
United Business/First Class
With your purchase of a United Business or First Class ticket comes premium seating, designed for comfort and convenience, whether you want to relax or work during your flight. It features beautifully contoured two-tone leather, a six-way adjustable headrest, padded articulating seat cushions, and 180 degree reclining capabilities. Seat pitch can accommodate a 6’4” person in Business and a 6’6” person in First.
There are a couple of additional important caveats to remember when booking airline tickets. First, the seats you select are not guaranteed, not even in First Class. Basically, United promises to do everything in their power to keep your chosen seat – the airlines know how important seat selection is to their customers. One way to avoid losing your seat is to simply be on time. We know it can sometimes be unavoidable, but the airlines are not required to hold your seat past the check-in time you see on your ticket and boarding documents.
Specific dimensions for your assigned seat can be found on United’s aircraft page. Click on the type of aircraft to pull up a seat map for your particular flight.