United Economy Plus Review: Worth It in a Game of Inches?

Sitting in economy is truly a matter of inches.

With every precious inch adding up to help you achieve a minimum level of comfort, you’ll probably consider bumping up to United Economy Plus if you ever fly United.

But is it actually worth it to pay extra for just a few more inches to stretch out your legs?

In this article, we will break down all of the benefits offered with a United Economy Plus ticket.

Plus, we surveyed over 300 data points to break down the costs and provide you with some insight such as what type of Economy Plus seats are the cheapest.

What is United Economy Plus?

United Economy Plus is the slightly upgraded version of Economy that provides passengers with about 3 to 4 extra inches of extra legroom.

United does things a little bit differently than other airlines when it comes to their upgraded Economy seats and not necessarily in a good way.

So you definitely want to read up on some of the details below so that you’ll know what to expect.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

United Economy Plus seats

How do you book United Economy Plus?

It’s extremely easy to book United Economy Plus.

Simply select Economy as your fare and then progress through the booking process until you can select a seat.

You will then see the seat map and if there are any Economy Plus seats available you can select them while also viewing the price.

If you decide after booking that you want to upgrade to Economy Plus then you can manage your booking and change your seat. You can also do this at the time of check-in.

Note: customers traveling on a Basic Economy ticket are able to purchase an Economy Plus seat only at check-in.

Some airlines allow you to upgrade once you are in the cabin but it’s not clear to me that United allows this.

United Economy Plus seat map

United also offers annual subscriptions to Economy Plus. They start at $599 and you can purchase them for yourself or for you plus up to eight companions.

The price will depend on if you want to choose a subscription for just the continental US, North and Central America, or a global one.

It’s an interesting concept that could make sense depending on your travel plans but if you plan on quickly reaching Premier Silver then it probably won’t be worth it.

United Economy Plus upgrades

One of the most common ways that frequent United flyers get seats in United Economy Plus is by getting upgraded via status.

Each level of MileagePlus elite status will grant you a way to get free upgrades to United Economy Plus. Here are the different policies:

Premier levelEconomy Plus Policy
Premier SilverAt check-in for you + 1 companion
Premier GoldAt booking for you + 1 companion
Premier PlatinumAt booking for you + 8 companions
Premier 1KAt booking for you + 8 companions

If you are trying to upgrade somebody who is not on your itinerary it is possible but be prepared for a little bit of pushback.

That’s because apparently the official policy for this is a little bit vague.

The best way to do this is to call United whenever you are ready to check in and tell the agent you would like to upgrade yourself and someone else flying on your flight to Economy Plus.

If the agent does not seem like they will be willing to do it, simply hang up and call back to speak with someone else.

You can also do this whenever you arrive at the airport but in my experience it can be more difficult.

United plane

Economy Plus experience: Worth it?

Let’s walk through some of the key aspects of the Economy Plus experience that you are probably curious about.

Seats at the front of the cabin

The first benefit of flying in Economy Plus is that your seat will be in the front half of the economy cabin.

Typically, it’s the first few rows behind First Class in addition to the emergency exit rows. You can usually tell if you’re looking at an Economy Plus seat because the headrest is a different color.

Some of them are also branded with subtle Economy Plus insignia.

United Economy Plus seats

On a domestic aircraft like a Boeing 737-700, you’ll find a mini Economy Plus section made up of the first three rows behind business class in addition to the emergency exit rows.

But on some of the larger aircraft such as the wide bodies the Economy Plus section can be much bigger. For example, the Boeing 767-400ER has ten rows of Economy Plus!

On newer aircraft equipped with Polaris Business Class seats, the Economy Plus section is only about six rows and you’ll find it behind Premium Economy.

And on smaller regional aircraft, you may only have 3 to 4 rows or they may not offer Economy Plus at all.

Economy Plus cabin

Extra legroom

The biggest perk of flying Economy Plus is that you will get extra legroom, usually around 3 to 4 inches although some seats will provide even more extra space.

The normal pitch for United Economy seats is about 30 to 31 inches but you can take a look at the chart below and see that Economy Plus seats offer at least 34 inches of pitch.

An extra 3 to 4 inches doesn’t sound like much but if you are over 6 feet tall, you know that those extra inches can add a good amount of comfort, especially if the passenger in front of you decides to recline the chair.

Personally, I like to sit in the bulkhead row directly behind business class when there is no hard partition because you get a lot of extra legroom.

AircraftE+ PitchWidth
Airbus A31935″17.7″
Airbus A32035″17″
Boeing 737-700 V134″ – 38″17.1″
Boeing 737-800 V134″16.3″ – 17.3″
Boeing 737-900 V333″ – 38″17″
Boeing 757-200 V236″ – 40″17.8″
Boeing 757-30034″ – 38″17.3″
Boeing 767-300ER V134″ – 43″18.5″
Boeing 767-400ER35″18.5″
Boeing 777-200 V134″17.05″
Boeing 777-300ER34″17.05″
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner34″17.3″
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner V134″17.3″
Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner34″17.3″
United Economy Plus legroom
Legroom in a standard Economy Plus seat.

Boarding

Unlike other airlines like Alaska or Delta that provide you with priority boarding whenever you upgrade to an equivalent Economy Plus seat, United does not currently provide that.

Instead, you will not board until Group 3/4 is called. So you’re not at the end but still not priority.

If you want priority boarding you will have to add that on.

That’s a big deal because priority boarding virtually guarantees that you will have overhead storage bin space.

The good news is that they at least have bin spaces reserved for United Economy Plus.

Whether or not other passengers actually pay them any mind is another matter…. But if you board with Group Three you shouldn’t struggle to find open space.

United Economy Plus overhead storage bin
Overhead storage space reserved for united economy plus.

Priority boarding will still be available to you if you are willing to shell out a little extra dough.

You can purchase certain add-on bundles during your booking that might have priority boarding although a lot of the bundles I’ve seen in past only allow you to add things like United Club access, extra miles, Wi-Fi, or a checked bag.

So if you want priority boarding you may have to purchase Premier Access which starts at $15 per segment.

That will put you in Group 2 boarding, which is for the lower-elite members and also for certain customers who have co-branded cards.

United Airlines boarding sign

Drinks and meals

Economy Plus passengers will have the same drinking and food experience as those flying regular economy.

You’ll get complimentary drinks like soda and some light snacks but you will need to pay for anything else. On flights traveling less than 300 miles, drinks are available upon request

Flights over 500 miles will also have products like snack boxes and flights 1,500 miles and over have Bistro on Board items available for purchase. Read more on economy dining.

Seatback TVs

Flying Economy Plus will have no effect on if you have a seatback TV.

Instead, it’s just a matter of whether or not you get lucky enough to fly on a United plane with a seatback TV.

The good news is that United is trending towards adding more screens to their seats so it should become more common in the future.

Related: What Airlines Have Seatback TV Screens?

Economy Plus seatback

Because you may not have a seatback TV, you might need to rely on your own personal device to connect to the in-flight entertainment and stream movies and TV shows during your flight.

But that also means also relying on power outlets to keep them juiced up.

A lot of times you can find shared power outlets in both Economy Plus and Economy. But on some aircraft, the outlets may be limited to Economy Plus.

USB ports can be difficult to find on domestic planes with United but they are on lots of the wide bodies.

Related: Which Airlines Have Power Outlets & USB Ports?

Economy Plus power outlet

Lavatory situation

One of the drawbacks of Economy Plus is that you may be located in the front of the Economy cabin but the lavatories are located in the very back.

Sometimes the crew will allow you to use the First Class lavatory but technically that should only be reserved for limited cases, such as when the beverage cart is blocking your way to the back.

Some aircraft do have lavatories in the front of the economy cabin which can work out great so it does depend on the aircraft.

How much does United Economy Plus cost?

The big question for a lot of people is: how much will it cost to upgrade to Economy Plus?

The prices range based on the length of your route and also where inside the cabin you choose to sit.

We’ve broken down a lot of data points below to show you a bunch of insightful price data.

First, we found that the average Economy Plus upgrade price was $111 for a domestic flight. That was on average 72% more expensive than a standard economy ticket.

But that was the average factoring in both short, medium, and long-haul domestic routes.

It’s more helpful if you break down the pricing based on routes and distance:

DistanceExample RouteUpgrade Price
224 miHouston (IAH) to Dallas (DFW)$26 to $35
606 miChicago (ORD) to Atlanta (ATL)$59 to $79
1,597 miHouston (IAH) to Boston (BOS)$99 to $129
2,704 miSan Francisco (SFO) to Boston (BOS)$154 to $199

We also found that the window and aisle seats were more expensive than the middle seats (shocker, I know). Typically, the window and aisle seats cost the same amount to upgrade to while the dreaded middle seats were about $5 cheaper.

The prices for Economy Plus in the emergency exit rows were extremely similar to those upfront although in a few cases they were just slightly cheaper.

When you are traveling abroad, the price to upgrade can be much higher.

In case you’re curious about international prices for Economy Plus, here are some data points:

DistanceExample RouteUpgrade Price
2,200 miNew York (EWR) to Panama City (PTY)$134 – $179
3,465 miNew York (EWR) to London (LHR)$169 – $197
5,451 miLos Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT)$205 – $262
7,921 miLos Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL)$205 – $262
3,133 miHouston (IAH) to Lima (LIM)$154 – $199
1,280 miHouston (IAH) to Toronto (YYZ)$89 – $99

If you want to take a look at some of the sample pricing that we found, check out the data points below.

New York – Newark (EWR) to Seattle (SEA)

  • Economy: $169
  • Economy Plus Window: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$162 – $189
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$162 – $199
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$154 – $192
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$162 – $199

New York – Newark (EWR) to Tampa (TPA)

  • Economy: $163
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$75 – $84
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$84 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$84 – $99

New York – Newark (EWR) to Phoenix (PHX)

  • Economy: $222
  • Economy Plus Window: +$134 – $169
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$127 – $164
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$134 – $169
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$142 – $174
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$134 – $167
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$142 – $174

New York – Newark (EWR) to Dallas (DFW)

  • Economy: $99
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $106
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$75 – $99
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $106
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$99

New York – Newark (EWR) to Las Vegas (LAS)

  • Economy: $168
  • Economy Plus Window: +$169 – $189
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$154 – $189
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$169 – $189
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$189
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$189
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$189

San Francisco (SFO) to San Diego (SAN)

  • Economy: $93
  • Economy Plus Window: +$45 – $52
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$43 – $49
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$45 – $52
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$43 – $53
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$39 – $49
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$43 – $53

San Francisco (SFO) to New Orleans (MSY)

  • Economy: $264
  • Economy Plus Window: +$122 – $139
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$116 – $134
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$122 – $139
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$116 – $143
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$109 – $137
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$116 – $143

San Francisco (SFO) to Orlando (MCO)

  • Economy: $199
  • Economy Plus Window: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$162 – $189
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$162 – $199
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$154 – $192
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$162 – $199

San Francisco (SFO) to Boston (BOS)

  • Economy: $199
  • Economy Plus Window: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$162 – $189
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$162 – $199
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$154 – $192
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$162 – $199

San Francisco (SFO) to Atlanta (ATL)

  • Economy: $149
  • Economy Plus Window: +$149 – $179
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$142 – $169
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$149 – $179
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$142 – $174
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$134 – $167
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$142 – $174

Los Angeles (LAX) to Boston (BOS)

  • Economy: $265
  • Economy Plus Window: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$162 – $189
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$169 – $197
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$162 – $199
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$154 – $192
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$162 – $199

Los Angeles (LAX) to Tampa (TPA)

  • Economy: $180
  • Economy Plus Window: +$149 – $169
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$142 – $164
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$149 – $169
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$142 – $174
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$134 – $167
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$142 – $174

Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO)

  • Economy: $74
  • Economy Plus Window: +$45 – $52
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$43 – $49
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$45 – $52
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$43 – $53
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$39 – $49
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$43 – $53

Los Angeles (LAX) to Denver (DEN)

  • Economy: $99
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $96
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$76 – $89
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $96
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$76 – $94
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$72 – $89
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$76 – $94

Los Angeles (LAX) to Seattle (SEA)

  • Economy: $149
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $92
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$76 – $89
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $92
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$76 – $94
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$72 – $89
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$76 – $94

Chicago – O’Hare (ORD) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

  • Economy: $269
  • Economy Plus Window: +$89 – $99
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$84 – $97
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$89 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$84 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$84 – $99

Chicago – O’Hare (ORD) to Boston (BOS)

  • Economy: $93
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $96
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$76 – $89
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $96
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$76 – $94
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$72 – $89
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$76 – $94

Chicago – O’Hare (ORD) to Dallas (DFW)

  • Economy: $99
  • Economy Plus Window: +$66 – $76
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$63 – $73
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$66 – $76
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$63 – $77
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$59 – $74
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$63 – $77

Chicago – O’Hare (ORD) to Atlanta (ATL)

  • Economy: $99
  • Economy Plus Window: +$66 – $79
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$63 – $76
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$66 – $79
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$63 – $77
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$59 – $74
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$63 – $77

Chicago – O’Hare (ORD) to Phoenix (PHX)

  • Economy: $174
  • Economy Plus Window: +$109 – $125
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$104 – $119
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$109 – $125
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$104 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$99 – $122
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$104 – $129

Houston (IAH) to Dallas (DFW)

  • Economy: $150
  • Economy Plus Window: +$27 – $35
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$26 – $33
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$27 – $35
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$29 – $35
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$27 – $34
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$29 – $35

Houston (IAH) to Boston (BOS)

  • Economy: $164
  • Economy Plus Window: +$109 – $129
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$104 – $123
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$109 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$104 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$99 – $122
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$104 – $129

Houston (IAH) to Las Vegas (LAS)

  • Economy: $129
  • Economy Plus Window: +$89 – $106
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$84 – $97
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$89 – $106
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$84 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$84 – $99

Houston (IAH) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

  • Economy: $109
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $96
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$76 – $92
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $96
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$76 – $94
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$72 – $89
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$76 – $94

Houston (IAH) to Seattle (SEA)

  • Economy: $169
  • Economy Plus Window: +$122 – $139
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$116 – $134
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$122 – $139
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$116 – $143
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$109 – $137
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$116 – $143

Denver (DEN) to New Orleans (MSY)

  • Economy: $169
  • Economy Plus Window: +$89 – $106
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$84 – $99
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$89 – $106
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$84 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$84 – $99

Denver (DEN) to San Francisco (SFO)

  • Economy: $99
  • Economy Plus Window: +$79 – $94
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$72 – $89
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$79 – $94
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$94
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: N/A
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$89

Denver (DEN) to Seattle (SEA)

  • Economy: $94
  • Economy Plus Window: +$89 – $99
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$84 – $97
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$89 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$84 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$79 – $99
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$84 – $99

Denver (DEN) to Orlando (MCO)

  • Economy: $175
  • Economy Plus Window: +$109 – $129
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$104 – $125
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$109 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$104 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$99 – $122
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$104 – $129

Denver (DEN) to Boston (BOS)

  • Economy: $114
  • Economy Plus Window: +$109 – $129
  • Economy Plus Middle: +$104 – $125
  • Economy Plus Aisle: +$109 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Window: +$104 – $129
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Middle: +$99 – $122
  • Economy Plus Emergency Row Isle: +$104 – $129

Final word

United Economy Plus does not offer the full range of benefits that you will find from similar products with other major airlines. There is no free alcohol and no priority boarding. Instead, the focus is just on the legroom.

So when it comes to purchasing Economy Plus, your focus should be on how much value that extra bit of legroom affords.

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