The Joys of United Airlines’ "Economy Minus" Seats

After being cooped up in United’s “Economy Minus” class for about five hours, I’ve finally arrived in Portland, where I’ll be attending RailsConf for the rest of the week. Nice-lookin’ city you folks have here, by the way.

Cramped economy seat
Not an actual photo of my seat, but a reasonable approximation I found with Google Image Search.

I pity anyone 6″ and taller who flies in United’s Economy section — at 5’11”, my knees almost touch the seat ahead, and when whoever’s in front of me decides to hit the recliner button, there’s barely enough room to read a magazine, and I can forget about using the laptop.

United adds insult to injury with the false luxury of their “Economy Plus” section, an area of economy with the legroom that they should be offering as a baseline. While you do get the extra legroom, they’re still the same narrow seats, which means that you’re going to get quite up-close-and-personal with your neighbour, and oftentimes your neighbour’s elbows. Luckily for me, I wasn’t sitting beside anyone in the 250-pounds-or-more weight class, in which case I’d have been dealing with “spillover” issues as well.

The other problem with Economy Plus seats is that you either have to have a lot of miles on their frequent flyer program or pay something close to full fare to get them. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the option to upgrade to one when you’re checking in — I got offered one for an additional $60 when checking in at Pearson this morning.

I think I’m beginning to understand where air rage comes from.

Thanks a lot, United. You’ll always be the airline of last resort to me!

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I’m not the only one who loathes United. Stephen O’Grady loathes them too, and he’s posted this photo showing the legroom in one of their economy seats:

Stephen O'Grady's photo of the legroom in a United Airlines economy class seat.
Stephen O’Grady’s photo of the legroom in a United Airlines economy class seat.

7 replies on “The Joys of United Airlines’ "Economy Minus" Seats”

I’m a big dude (6’4″ 300 pounds) and I always try to flight United for 2 reasons:
1. They have Pepsi.
2. Economy Plus
Though I always upgrade when I am checking in since it is cheap (though not always a sure thing). I would be nice if economy seats were actually comfortable for normal people though.

I recently flew on United as well. The flights were a little over 5 hours, and I was in the row farthest back. Since I was in the aisle seat, it made for awesome proximity to the emergency exit. But here’s the thing about that seating:
Same great economy legroom, plus the bonus of seats that don’t recline.
On the flight out, they even ran out of meals (for sale, to boot) by the time they got to my seat.
Man, I miss JetsGo.

And then there is the sweetness and light exuded by the check-in agents …

About the Flyertalk link: that was an April Fool’s joke. The poster confirmed this in the comments. He always gets Economy Plus seats on United because he’s a very frequent flier, so he has no complaint.

I pity anyone 6″ and taller

Is this like the Spinal Tap “Stonehenge” incident, or were you really commiserating with everyone taller than half a foot?

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