Who are these weird people?

Yesterday I outlined my experience with United’s new unlimited domestic upgrade program, although there’s still something I don’t understand. As I mentioned, upgrades out of Tampa will be ridiculously easy for everyone, so just for fun I decided to check the Economy Plus seatmap today for a flight on Friday. It’s well within the upgrade window for Premier members (let alone higher tier elites) and there are still at least nine confirmable upgrade seats available, so all upgrades from elites (or even non-elites requesting an upgrade) should have cleared. By my logic, that would mean Economy Plus should be pretty darn empty. But that’s not the case. This is what the seatmap looks like:

By my count there are 17 people in Economy Plus — that’s more than the number of people in first class! Now I realize that some people buy an annual membership for “Economy Plus Access,” but it can’t be that many people. And I realize some people might have a companion in coach, but there are more people in Economy Plus than first class, which just doesn’t make any sense to me. My connecting flight is the same, amazingly enough, with about 20 seats still taken in Economy Plus despite the upgrade window for Premier members having passed and there still being confirmed upgrade space.

Enlighted me, please? Maybe I way underestimated the number of people that buy “Economy Plus Access.”

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Well yeah, people can buy an annual option but it can also be purchased on a segment basis as well, so I think that’s where a lot of the E+ pax are coming from.

  2. @ Dan — Fair enough, though for the price I have a hard time imagining that many people are buying up, especially out of TPA, which is the ultimate $49 one way market.

    @ hobo13 — OMG, I’m so excited about flying all of a sudden. Hope some of my FA friends are on that flight. Can’t wait to hear their “commentary” on UDU.

    @ Gene — E- is full, but they don’t assign people Economy Plus till the gate.

    @ Scott — Fair enough, but that’s a lot of people!

  3. I bought annual E+ back before I was a 3P (circa 2007). I used it on SFO-LHR, SFO-CDG, and a few mid/tcons. Totally worth it.

  4. I had a few itin’s I booked before UDU was implemented and the UG wasn’t immediately processed. I had to call, after the upgrade window, and get put on the list, which cleared immediately for the specific flight.

  5. My wife was confirmed upgraded at the window for Premiers for a flight today – IAD-ORD – I was quite surprised given the route.

  6. I noticed the same thing last week with my MSY-DEN and DEN-LAX flights, there were a lot of E+ seats taken with NF>0 and within the Premier upgrade window. Mysteriously, about 24 hours prior to the flight a bunch of people moved up to F, I’m not sure what it was, perhaps they still have a few hiccups with reservations made before UDU.

  7. How does a person get pressigned the exit row without being UDU-eligible as a 1P+? I guess economy award redemption is one way. Any others?

  8. Let’s see what it looks like in two months – I’d wager that these are elites who booked pre-UDU and weren’t automatically added to the list and don’t know that they need to do that. Once a lot of those pre-UDU reservations get cycled out of the system, I bet this phenomenon will go away.

  9. I think maybe the UDUs is the issue. I had to call 7 or 8 times to finally get my UDU requests for this weekend to “stick”. I have no clue what the problem was.

  10. UA is still holding 1st class seats just like all other routes. Never know when they’ll be sold. I’d love to see how the flight goes out.

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