Over the weekend I saw a bizarre response retweeted and commented upon regarding a passenger’s desire to re-seat themselves aboard an aircraft. All the original tweets are now gone, but they sparked some interesting discussion.

United Economy Plus, The Lexus Of The Skies?

There are decent arguments you could make as to why passengers cannot upgrade to better seating after the aircraft door has shut, but the United representative didn’t choose any of those. Instead, they went for a something a bit more puzzling.


The issue at hand is that an unsold seat on a specific flight that goes unsold is very different than receiving a better vehicle when you go to purchase a car. It’s not like choosing between a Lexus and a Toyota, both of which retain their value whether they change hands or don’t. It’s more like looking at food that is about to be tossed out if it goes unsold. It’s a seat on a flight that will never be able to be sold again.

Besides, United’s Economy Plus is nothing like a Lexus. It’s honestly the worst of the U.S. Big 3, as all you get is extra legroom. With Delta Comfort+ or American Main Cabin Extra, you also receive free drinks and a better boarding group. United’s offering leaves a lot to be desired, making it what? The Prius of the skies? The United rep could have been a little more honest here.

Still, You Shouldn’t Self-Upgrade

I’ve often wondered if crew would do anything if someone decided to upgrade to Economy Plus. I’ve been on a few regional flights where there were only a couple people in first, one or two in Economy Plus, and everyone else in coach. It might just be nicer for everyone if a few people went and switched to the Economy Plus section, not just those moving. Airlines have to sometimes do this very thing for weight and balance reasons, although the reverse is typically more common (i.e. the operational downgrade). I’ve seen folks move from rows 1 and 2 or a CRJ to near the back several times.

But airlines obviously frown on you moving. Those are their seats to sell, and even though it will fly unsold, that is their policy. Just like people paying different fares for the same price, some people end up in different seats. The people in Economy Plus might have paid for it, might be United elites, or might have received it as the only remaining seat when they had to be re-booked. It’s not yours for the taking once that door closes. If Economy Plus is up for grabs, why not first?

But that doesn’t prevent people trying to upgrade themselves, thinking the crew won’t notice.