US Airways Denies Me the Open Window Seat, Gives Me First Class

Today I flew to SLC via PHX from SFO on US Airways. I had a window seat from SFO-PHX, but I was in the middle from PHX-SLC. I tried to check-in last night and change my middle seat, but while there were at least 5 window seats, US Airways wanted at least $22 for one of these "choice seats." A choice seat is just like any other economy seat, just usually a bit closer to the front, but there isn't any extra legroom. I decided to try my luck at the airport.

When I arrived at check-in, I told the agent, "Could you check to see if there are any available window or aisle seats for me?" As she started looking she said, "There are plenty of available seats, but all of them will cost money to get." "Okay, well I don't want to pay for a seat, but thanks for looking." She said, "Be sure to check in Phoenix. Maybe something will open up… here let me stick you on the upgrade list, just in case." Me: "You can do that, even though I'm Star Alliance Gold and not a US Airways frequent flier?" She said yes. Boom. A first class boarding pass pops right out.

I'm not trying to look a gifthorse in the mouth here - I'm happy to take the upgrade! I just find it hilarious that US Airways wants to charge a Star Alliance Gold $20+ for a standard window / aisle seat, but they'll give me first class for free. There are some confused people running that airline...


Interesting post. Is that standard policy?

Kevin March 1, 2011 at 03:41 pm

I have flown US Airways as a UA 1K pretty frequently for years... and other than a couple irregular operations, I've NEVER been upgraded before. If anyone else knows what their policy is, I'd love to know.

Geoffrey March 3, 2011 at 05:38 pm

Nice tip and interesting. I, too, fly on USAirways a lot as a UA 1K - didn't even know I could be put on the upgrade list.

Susan March 3, 2011 at 07:16 pm

You were just incredibly lucky! Maybe the check-in agent was particularly taken with your charming smile! US doesn't even do that for its own elite flyers!

David March 7, 2011 at 09:21 am

It is not policy that other airline "OA" members be placed on the upgrade list or comped to First Class. All OA members are required to pay the upgrade fee. I'm going to assume that the agent was new or has not been trained (informed) on policy.

Tim October 11, 2011 at 03:14 pm

I agree with Susan you were probably just lucky as a Star Alliance Gold from another airline they upgraded you. But she was incorrect when she wrote US Airways doesn't do that for their own Dividend Miles Preferred elite members. In fact, they have a really generous upgrade policy for their elites. They get unlimited upgrades that process automatically up to a week before departure except for flights to/from Europe and Hawaii. Especially once you get high in their status level (to Platinum or Chairman's), and if you book a least over a week out, you get upgraded a lot.

Actually, I am willing to bet when you board a US Airways flight most of the people you walk past in the first couple of rows who are sitting there already sipping a cocktail actually purchased coach tickets too. They just have US Airways elite status.

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