Snagging a great airfare doesn’t mean you’ll have a great seat on your flight.
Starting this Friday, coach passengers on United Airlines who want to avoid the back of the plane may have to pay up for it. The airline will charge a fee for so-called preferred seats on flights throughout its network. These seats don’t come with extra legroom or other perks. They’re standard economy seats that will be behind the Economy Plus rows, which come with more space.
United’s rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines already have a surcharge in place for such seats. The trend is part of airline’s efforts to segment their coach-class cabins, an effort to get travelers to pay up for perks that used to be included in airfare. Airlines already offer travelers add-ons such as early boarding, lounge access and more legroom.
On Tuesday, United is relaunching its no-frills basic economy tickets for certain trans-Atlantic routes it offered over the summer. Unlike its domestic basic economy class, passengers on such tickets on these flights can bring a full-size carry-on bag that fits in the overhead bin but there will be a charge for a first checked bag.
These passengers can pay to pick a seat ahead of time, but the Economy Plus seats that have more legroom will not be available, even for purchase, a spokeswoman said.
Also starting Tuesday, United will start allowing travelers to apply their basic economy tickets toward elite status in the airline’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program.
United’s basic economy passengers will earn 50 percent of the qualifying miles and half of a qualifying segment for each flight, while the price of the ticket will be fully applied. Passengers have to earn 25,000 miles or have flown on 30 qualifying flights, along with a spend of $3,000, to reach the lowest Premier elite status, Silver, according to United’s website.
United Continental Holdings Inc. shares were unchanged in after-hours trading Monday. Year-to-date, UAL has gained 31.38%, versus a 0.25% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
This article is brought to you courtesy of CNBC.