VERIFY: Can United fliers with basic economy tickets take empty premium seats?

Can passengers on United Airlines flights with basic economy tickets move up to Economy Plus premium seats for free if any are empty? Our Verify team went to work.

HOUSTON - KHOU 11 News viewer Jennifer Jagmin asked us to Verify if passengers on United Airlines flights with basic economy tickets can move up to Economy Plus premium seats for free if the seats are empty after everyone's boarded - here's what we found.

  • United Airlines Media Relations say customers pay extra money for Economy Plus seats, often times more than $100, depending on where you're flying and the premium seat's location in the aircraft. Those seats are usually highlighted in blue when purchasing your ticket.
  • United says it doesn't allow passengers who paid for a basic economy ticket to move up to Economy Plus even if those seats are empty at takeoff. The airline tells KHOU it would be unfair to passengers who did pay extra money for those seats.
  • However if you're assigned to an Economy Plus seat and spot several open seats in the back, United tells us"that likely would be allowed with the cooperation of our crew."


Here's an added tip, though - if you're a frequent flier and Mileage Plus Premier member, you'll automatically get access to those premium economy seats for free before boarding.

So we can verify, even if there are plenty of open Economy Plus seats on your flight, unless you pay extra before boarding, you're stuck flying basic coach.

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© 2017 KHOU-TV


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