Finally there’s a positive thing we can look forward to after the merger: Economy Plus is here to stay!
United announced today that not only will the whole ex-United fleet retain Economy Plus, but starting in 2012 Economy Plus will be added to Continental aircraft as well, both domestic and international. No doubt this is a great move since United generates quite a bit of revenue through upsells to Economy Plus, not to mention it generates a lot of loyalty.
Not to take away from this joyous occasion, but I do feel like I have the obligation to mention that this might not be all good news, especially for top tier elites, as these Economy Plus seats will likely come at the expense of a row or two of first class seats, and I certainly can’t blame them if they do. Keep in mind that while United has had Economy Plus for years, they only have eight first class seats on the A319 and 12 first class seats on the A320. Compare that to many of Continental’s 737s, which feature up to 20 seats in first class. I just don’t see United keeping 20 first class seats and taking away a row of coach seats so that they can reconfigure the planes with Economy Plus.
So while this is great news for lower tier elites that fly lucrative routes where they rarely get upgraded, if United chooses to eliminate four (or maybe even more) first class seats from much of their fleet, that might be the difference between a 1K consistently getting upgraded on a lucrative route, vs. spending most of their time in Economy Plus. And the same is certainly true for Premier and Premier Executive members on less lucrative routes.
Anyway, not trying to be negative here, as this really is great news. If nothing else, it makes me feel like there is still at least a slight bit of customer focus at the new airline (in other words, they see the value of loyal customers, even if the value isn’t perfectly quantifiable).