United Airlines Should Fix the Last Minute / High Revenue Ticket Seating Situation

Okay... I've blogged about this before, but now as I check in for my flight to Denver, it is irking me again. Check out the seatmap.


I've got a window seat, and Denver isn't really that far away. That being said, as a guy who flies over 100,000 miles per year on United, I think I *deserve* a better seat. Yup. That's right. I used the word, "deserve." I hate when people use that word when it comes to travel, especially as they're typically lobbying for some sort of special treatment that they don't actually deserve.

I booked this ticket a few days ago, and the seatmap actually looked worse when I first booked it. There were originally no available seats in Economy Plus. Now there are middle seats open. Yay.

I like upgrades, but I don't think I *deserve* them. I pay for an economy ticket, and based on my status and fare code, if there's space available, I get an upgrade. Fair. But ya know what... as a 1K, I do kinda think I *deserve* an Economy Plus window / aisle seat. Not only do I think I deserve it based on status, but I think I really deserve it because I likely paid more for that ticket than most other passengers in the same cabin, considering I booked it less than a week before my trip.

Here's how I think United should fix the problem. Block one or two Economy Plus seats until 24 hours before departure. Do this for every mainline flight. When an elite member books a last minute seat, allow them to select a seat. If no window / aisle economy plus seats are open, the person would automatically "waitlist" for the better seat. Then as upgrades started clearing and it got closer to the 24 hour mark, people would automatically get moved into Economy Plus seats.

I know my method isn't perfect and there are plenty of loopholes, but I think it would be a step in the right direction. What do you think?


Jim February 1, 2012 at 09:26 am

What if the airline 'blocks' a seat and a prospective customer, who might not be an 'elite' but might actually be willing to pay for Economy Plus, decides to choose a different airline because they need the extra leg room? And then the seat doesn't sell.

Being 'elite' doesn't really make anyone elite.

AS February 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

United is already on the case. Premier Silver's will be restricted to E+ until 24 hours from departure time. You'll get the resulting effect on seating you are hoping for, should happen in about a month's time, March 2 or 3.

Of course, this policy change got a whole bunch of entitled people all up in arms about the 'disrespect for loyalty' from United and the 'massive devaluation' of the program, etc etc etc. But I digress...

Rob February 1, 2012 at 11:29 am

Or they could only grant E+ to the lowest elite level at check-in time, instead of booking time, leaving many more E+ seats available for higher elite levels.


That's what they're doing in 2012.

I'd take 7E!

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