United Economy Plus - worth it?

Feb 4th, 2009, 09:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 133
United Economy Plus - worth it?

My husband and I are going to Japan in April. We're booked MCO - SFO - NRT on the way over, and NRT - ORD - MCO on the way back. On our last long flight in economy (MUC to ORD...about 10 hours), we were going stir crazy and feeling pretty closed in.

I notice that United has Economy Plus that adds a little bit of legroom. We can't afford first/business class.

1. Is Economy Plus worth the extra $$? It would cost us $418 total for both of us to have it just on the flights to/from NRT.

2. Do they ever let you upgrade at the airport or the day before for free or at a much lower rate? Do I ask nicely when we check in our luggage, or when we get to the gate?

I don't mind paying a little extra, but $418 is a lot of money to us and I don't want to spend it foolishly.

LMGSONIC is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Check with www.seatguru.com to see what the specifics are for your aircraft.

In genera, it seems the pitch is about 3" longer than basic economy.

This amount would be very helpful if the seats tilt way back, as the rule is if someone is going to tilt their seat all the way back, it will be the person sitting in front of you.

Rastaguytoday is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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$349 for one person along with one companion on same itinerary for all UA flights for a year.

rkkwan is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 09:48 AM
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It is just a little more legroom - everything else is the same.

I would say: It depends on how tall you are. For a long flight, I would do it. You probably sleep better.

For domestic flights, they usually offer upgrades at check-in and/or at the gate. International flights are usually fully booked, so I would not count that they offer it at a good rate.
traveller1959 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 12:16 PM
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I think they are worth it and one of the best perks for being a UA frequent flyer.

I'm 6'2 and fly internationally. Economy plus allows me just enough more space to feel comfortable. Even if someone leans back, I don't feel claustrophobic. It is also sometimes less crowded (altho no guarantee on popular international routes).

I recently did a 15 hour flight from Dubai in Economy plus and was actually able to sleep for five hours. I would never have been able to do that in cramped economy.
MikeT is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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We think it's totally worth it-really makes a difference having a few extra inches so the tray table is not literally on your chest, plus you are right behind the Business class rows so you will exit the plane more quickly. We rationalized it by saying we were saving the $$$ by not buying business class tickets-and you can buy the yearly membership so use again if you travel often.
dlai is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 06:53 PM
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That is 14,848 flight miles, according to United. That is a long trip.

I think it is worth the $349, especially if you are flying United again over the next 12 months.

But first make sure that your transpac flights into and out of NRT are operated by United and are not codeshares operated by ANA.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 05:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Absolutely worth it. We were offered it during check in IAD-ZRH and declined the offer. My old legs were miserable on arrival and I had a hard time walking. On the return flight we were first in line so we could get Economy + if it was available. It was and I was much more comfortable during the flight and on arrival. I believe the seating gives you an additional five inches.

As a result we have E+ for our IAD-AMS, BRU-IAD flights in April.
ronkala is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 06:57 AM
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For that long a flight, it's definitely worth the money - and I wouldn't wait until check-in, because every time I've flown to Japan, the flight has been pretty full.... Good luck - that is a long flight!!!!
Debi is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 10:52 AM
Original Poster
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Thank you all for your responses!

Rkkwan, I saw the annual option. However, the wording of it on United's site states that you can choose the Economy Plus option "at booking" if you have the annual option. We've already booked and it's a non-refundable fare. Does anyone know if I can get the annual option for an already booked flight? Well, I guess I could email United, too, for an answer, huh?

I'm only 5'4", but I still feel cramped in Economy - my husband is 5'11" and is definitely uncomfortable. Neither of us can sleep because we can't get comfortable.

Mrwunrfl, our flights are not codeshares. We would have done the ANA flights, but they were significantly more expensive than just plain United.

There is still a lot of availability for our flights in Economy Plus (I looked at the seating)...but I won't count on it lasting until the day of the flight.

Thanks again...I have a little more research and number crunching to do. $349 can buy a lot of gashapon! But I really want to be able to sleep on the flights!
LMGSONIC is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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Call UA. If there are still E+ seats on your flights, you should be able to pick them at time of your paying the $349 fees.

The term "at time of booking" is to say it's a benefit. You can secure those seats early, not having to wait until just before flight time to find out if you get the seat or not.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 05:33 PM
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It is an additional 3 to 5 inches of knee room. I don't think that there is any additional recline, but I may be wrong.

The real benefit of the extra seat pitch is during the majority of the flight when you are awake.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238

Having had the 'pleasure' of flying to Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan in coach far too many times, the extra three+ inches will make a large diffence.

Usually, the person sitting in front of me fully reclines their seat on takeoff. The last time it happened, coming back from HK, the Chinese American couple next to me said they were sorry.

I told them it would take me about an hour to train the person in front of me to put his / her seat up to only partially reclined. It actually took about 45 minutes.

For a small fee, I will share this trick with you.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 10:19 PM
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Being 6'3" tall, the extra room makes a big difference to me. E+ is one of the reasons that I fly United.

The OP mentioned that it is difficult getting comfortable to sleep. Once you close your eyes to sleep the extra seat pitch probably* won't help. Buying it to get better sleep is not the point.

Considering that, in addition to the fact that "$349 can buy a lot of gashapon", it might not be worth it to some people.

OTOH, it would be about $85 per person for two each way for that one trip and then they would have E+ access for a year.

*The extra seat pitch does help me, a bit to sleep, tho. On a LH flight in economy with 31" seat pitch when I stretched my legs out under the seat in front, my feet stuck out over the rail under the seat! Enough to get bumped by the person in front.

On that same flight, the lady in front of me had her seat reclined for most of the flight back to the U.S. (so a daylight flight). I had to straddle the seat. She was in an exit row and had nobody in front of her.

The flight attendant wasn't able to put the meal tray on the my tray table and asked the woman to put her seat up during the meal service. That lady was leaning forward, chowing down, with her seat fully reclined. She reluctantly did what the FA asked.

She reclined again after the meal and didn't put it up for a later drink service. But at one point, when she did put her seat back up, I put my feet flat on the floor and knees to the front in firm contact with her seatback. She tried to put the seat back but couldn't. It just didn't budge. Didn't hurt me one bit and I was comfortable like that, sitting the way most people do, for a change.

Now I will find out what gashapon is.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 11:21 PM
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I flew in UA's Economy Plus from SIN-NRT-SFO last summer. I didn't have to pay for it, as it's a perk for PE members, but I would have.

True, the only difference is a little bit of extra room, but on long haul flights, a little extra room goes a long way.
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 6th, 2009, 04:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Are you on a 777 or a 747 from SFO to NRT? The 777s have slightly more room in E+ than the old configuration 747s, which is what is operating NRT-ORD right now. And, there are some good E+ seats on the 777s; not so easy to choose on the 747 (we're doing the same trip and I've been trying to figure out where to sit).

The only time United "gives away" E+ is when there are more regular economy passengers than there are seats. If this happens, it will be at the gate. Most of the times I've heard people asking for it at the gate, though, they've been told they'll have to pay.

I think it's worth it, and I'm only 5'6". It's one of the primary reasons that I bunch my travel on United. I flew to/from Europe in a regular economy seat on Swiss a few months ago, and while I liked the airline and service, the difference in room was very noticeable. The woman in front of me reclined her seat all the way back before takeoff and didn't put it back up until the flight attendant forced her to do so before landing. I couldn't even reach down to get into my bag from under the seat.

We're also going to Japan soon--end of March/early April. Enjoy!

ms_go is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 04:26 AM
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Ms_go, right now our two trans-Pacific flights are showing as utilizing 747's. But, two of our four legs have already had schedule changes, so I'm not counting on the schedule or equipment staying the same!

Mrwunrfl, according to my DH, gashapon is those little containers you get out of a vending machine that have toys in them. There could be a set of 6 different toys in the series...it's big for collectors like my DH. He'll be looking for Disney and Pixar toys (I'll admit I want some, too...I have a serious soft spot for Wall.E and Chip-n-Dale). We're just a couple of big kids!

AND...I estimated our taxes last night and I believe we'll be getting a small refund...enough to cover the upgrade to E+...now I just have to talk my husband into spending the money on it! Wish me luck!
LMGSONIC is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 06:32 PM
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Good luck!
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 08:51 PM
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For those of us who had mothers barely 5' tall, we can't be so imtimidating.

The "secret" to the in your face problem is to be totally uncomfortable (which is true), and that means shifing your legs back and forth frequently.

Unfortunately, this shifting just 'happens' to bump the seat in front of you. Do this every 3-5 minutes and they will, hopefully, learn.

If not, there is the tray trick. Every time you bump the tray at a flat angle to the seat in front of you it moves the seat 2-5".

Every time they try to retaliate, by moving their seats 2-5", it moves your tray about 1/4-1/12". That is what I call leverage.

I had a women in front of me who once asked me if I wanted to trade seats with her, and I told her no, why should I make the person behind me suffer as I have been. She finally put her seat half-way up and peace reigned the rest of the trip.

Rastaguytoday is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 07:50 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 7,923
YES get the upgrade! You won't regret it.
annw is offline  

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