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United Airlines Review – Seats, Amenities, Customer Service, Baggage Fees, & More

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United Airlines Review – Seats, Amenities, Customer Service, Baggage Fees, & More

United Ticketing Options

United frequent flyer program, baggage fees, united’s other fees & add-ons, how to avoid paying excess fees & travel expenses, united inflight amenities, most common complaints, consumer rankings, ratings, etc. , safety and performance, charity partnership, final thoughts.

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There’s no doubt you know United Airlines (and may have even flown with them before), but are you aware of their different fare types, the ins and outs of their baggage allowances, and all of their extra fees/add-ons? What about their seat specs and their consumer satisfaction ratings?

This helpful guide covers all you need to know about this large U.S. carrier so you hopefully won’t be caught unaware on your next flight.

In this post you’ll find a general company overview, ticketing/fare options, extra fees/add-ons (including baggage allowances ), cabin class amenities, seat specs, and more.

Airline: United Airlines

Alliance:  Star Alliance

Category:  Legacy domestic and international airline

Frequent Flyer Program: MileagePlus

Tag Line:  “Fly the Friendly Skies”

About/Mission Statement: “We are committed to providing a level of service to our customers that makes us a leader in the airline industry. We understand that to do this we need to have a product we are proud of and employees who like coming to work every day….” (source)

Daily Flights:  4,700

Main Hub:  Chicago-O’Hare International Airport ( ORD )

Destinations:  356 (including 125 international)

United Airlines Route Map

United’s fare types are pretty standard for a large U.S. carrier. But with stiff competition from lots of low-cost airlines, United recently introduced a Basic Economy fare — which pretty much just gets you a seat on the plane.

Handy for those traveling light, this reduced and restricted fare does not include any standard carry-on or checked luggage.

And for anyone part of United’s frequent flyer program (covered later on in this article), you won’t be eligible for premier qualifying miles that go toward your elite status when flying in this class.

Below are the additional differences in fare types and cabin classes, with inflight amenities covered later on in this article:

Basic Economy (most restrictive fare): 

  • Pre-assigned seat before boarding
  • Family or group seating not possible
  • First checked bag costs an additional $120 (round-trip)
  • Upgrades not available
  • Changes or refunds not permitted

Economy (standard): 

  • Seat selection at time of booking (if available)
  • Customize your booking with other options

Economy (flexible):

  • Refundable ticket (subject to cancellation fees)

Premium Plus:

  • Spacious, larger seating with extra legroom
  • Complimentary food and beverage
  • Enhanced dining with complimentary food and beverage

The availability of certain cabin classes is dependent on the route and plane type. We’ve also covered how you can upgrade to business or first class on United Airlines .

Economy Plus

If you’re looking for a little extra legroom, you can upgrade your booking to Economy Plus. This will also seat you closer to the front of the aircraft so you can disembark quicker.

You can upgrade as a one-off, or subscribe to yearly upgrades when booking a regular economy ticket (where Economy Plus is available).

United Airlines MileagePlus

MileagePlus is United’s frequent flyer loyalty program where you can earn miles to redeem against reward flights and work your way up membership tiers to gain elite benefits, such as priority check-in and additional luggage.

These reward miles can also be used against flights with other Star Alliance members. You can earn miles through flying, shopping, dining out, and spending on certain credit cards.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our article on United’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program .

United Airlines Baggage Fees & Other Fees/Add-Ons

United Airlines Carry-On Allowance:

1 personal item: FREE 1 standard carry-on bag: FREE (including Basic Economy Transatlantic flights but excluding all other routes for basic economy)

United  Airlines Checked Allowance:

Max weight: 50lb (23kg) for all economy and premium plus fares and 70lbs (32kg) for business and first class fares.

Max size: 62 inches (158cm) linear

United recommends that passengers check their official baggage fee calculator tool to view baggage costs associated with their specific fare type.

We ran some basic route searches, and the fees appeared as the following (do a check on your specific fare before booking to confirm):

Domestic U.S. & Canada

  • Economy (Basic, plus and standard): 1st bag $30, 2nd bag $40, 3rd+ bag $150
  • Business and first: 1st and 2nd bags free, 3rd+ bag $150

U.S. to/from Mexico

  • Economy (Basic, plus and standard): 1st bag $30, 2nd bag $55, 3rd+ bag $180
  • Business and first: 1st and 2nd bags free, 3rd+ bag $180

U.S. to/from Europe

  • Economy: 1st bag $0 (£60 for Basic Economy), 2nd bag $100, 3rd+ bag $200
  • Premium Plus: 1st and 2nd bags free, 3rd+ bag $200
  • Business: 1st and 2nd bags free, 3rd+ bag $200
  • First: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bags free; 4th+ bag $200

Additional and Excess Baggage Fees:

Oversized Fee: $200 per bag (up to 115in/292cm)

Overweight Fee (route dependent):

  • Bags 51-70lb: $100-$200 per bag
  • Bags 71-100lb: $200-$400 per bag

MileagePlus Status weight allowance:

  • Silver, Gold, Platinum, 1K: 70lb
  • Star Alliance Gold (traveling in first, business or  United Polaris Business ): 70lb

Hot Tip: See our post on United Airlines baggage policy  which details specific baggage allowances for all types of cabin class, status and personnel such as the military. 

Service Fees

All reservations on United.com can be made without incurring a service fee. For other methods of booking made within the U.S. or Canada, the service fees are as follows:

By Phone: $25

City Ticket Office:  $30

At the Airport: $50

Reservations Made Outside of the U.S.: Fees vary according to country

Cancellation and Change Fees: (Cash Tickets)

  • Domestic Cancellation Fee: $200
  • International Cancellation Fee: Up to $400
  • Waived for Gold, Platinum, and 1k members
  • Cancellation : If you cancel a non-refundable ticket, no refund will be issued – but you can use the cost of the flight against a new ticket within 12 months.
  • If your departure or arrival time changes by more than 30 minutes (due to a schedule change), you can change your flight at no extra cost or request a refund.

We’ve also gone into detail on United’s  award flight change & cancellation fees .

Seat Selection Fees

There is no charge to select a seat with United (where available), but you can opt for “Preferred seating” (closer to the front of the economy section) from $9 each way.

Economy Plus Upgrade: $16-$169 each way

Unaccompanied Minor Fee: $150 each way

Pet in Cabin Fee: $125 each way

Fare Holding Fees

If you’re not ready to book at the time of searching, then you can pay to reserve your fare using “Farelock.”

The fee varies by destination, but ranges from $5-$20 with the ability to hold a fare for either 3 or 7 days.

United Airlines Annual Subscription Fees

Economy Plus: From $499

Benefit from additional leg room and being closer to the front of the plane for quicker exiting when you reach your destination.

United Bundle Options

Bundles are offered during the reservation process combining different options, such as an Economy Plus upgrade and United Club trip pass. Prices vary per route, but United states that savings can be had by buying these bundles.

Wi-Fi: From $49

United Club Membership: From $550

Get access to all of the  United Club locations and select partner lounges.

United Airlines Bistro Onboard

Onboard Refreshments

For flights over 3 hours (within the U.S. and to/from Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America) customers can order from the “Bistro on Board” menu serving items such as a chorizo breakfast sandwich, pepperoni deep dish pizza, or a mezze sampler with prices ranging from $6.99-$9.99 . Menu choices depend on the flight route.

On flights over 1.5 hours (within North America, including select Latin American destinations and the Caribbean, in addition to Singapore , Australia , and New Zealand ) customers can order from the “Snack Shop” serving sweet and savory nibbles and snack boxes. Prices range from $3.99-$9.59 .

Beer and wine are $8, while premium spirits range from $8-$9 and specialty cocktails will run you $10.

Onboard entertainment

Available on select Boeing 737 and 757-300 aircraft, customers can purchase access to DIRECTV with more than 100 TV channels plus movies.

This is complimentary for United first passengers, and $5.99 for United economy passengers on flights less than 2 hours ($7.99 for flights more than 2 hours).

Many travel rewards cards come with an annual airline credit and can be used to offset fees such as baggage fees, such as The Platinum Card ® from American Express.

Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve ® Card  come with an annual $300 travel credit that can be used to offset almost  any  travel expense.

The cards below allow you to redeem Capital One miles for 1 cent each as a statement credit for previous travel purchases (within 90 days):

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X card is an excellent option for travelers looking for an all-in-one premium credit card.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the premium Capital One travel rewards card on the block.

Points and miles fans will be surprised to see that the Capital One Venture X card packs quite the punch when it comes to bookings made through Capital One, all while offering the lowest annual fee among premium credit cards.

Depending on your travel goals and preferences, the Capital One Venture X card could very well end up being your go-to card in your wallet.

  • 10x miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars purchased through Capital One Travel
  • 5x miles per $1 on flights purchased through Capital One Travel
  • 2x miles per $1 on all other purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit on bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • Unlimited complimentary access for cardholder and 2 guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • 10,000 bonus miles awarded on your account anniversary each year
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • Add authorized users for no additional annual fee ( rates & fees )
  • No foreign transaction fees ( rates & fees )
  • $395 annual fee ( rates & fees )
  • Does not offer bonus categories for flights or hotel purchases made directly with the airline or hotel group, the preferred booking method for those looking to earn elite status
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Elevate every hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with a suite of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck ®

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

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  • Capital One Venture vs Venture X
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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card   is one of the most popular rewards cards on the market. It’s perfect for anyone in search of a great welcome offer, high rewards rates, and flexible redemption options.

Frequent travelers with excellent credit may benefit from this credit card that offers a lot of bells and whistles. And it offers easy-to-understand rewards earning and redemption.

  • 5x miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Access to Capital One transfer partners
  • $95 annual fee ( rates & fees )
  • Limited elite benefits
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • How To Find the 75k or 100k Bonus for the Capital One Venture
  • Travel Insurance Benefits of the Capital One Venture
  • Capital One Venture Card vs. Capital One VentureOne Card [Detailed Comparison]
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Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

The card offers unlimited miles at 1.25x per $1 and no annual fee. When you consider the flexible rewards, frequent travelers come out on top.

Interested in a travel rewards credit card without one of those pesky annual fees? Then say hello to the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

In addition to no annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne card offers no foreign transaction fees.

But is this card worth its salt, or is it merely a shell of the more popular Capital One Venture card?

  • No annual fee ( rates & fees )
  • Ability to use transfer partners
  • Fraud coverage
  • Travel assistance services
  • Auto rental insurance
  • Weak earn rate at 1.25x miles per $1 spent on all purchases
  • No luxury travel or elite benefits
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies
  • APR: 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable),0% intro on purchases for 15 months
  • No Annual Fee Cards
  • Benefits of the Capital One VentureOne Card
  • Capital One Venture X Card vs. Capital One VentureOne Card [Detailed Comparison]
  • Capital One Platinum Card vs. VentureOne and Venture Cards [Detailed Comparison]
  • Best Virtual Credit Cards
  • Best Instant Approval Credit Cards
  • Capital One Transfer Partners
  • easyJet Review – Seats, Amenities, Customer Service, Baggage Fees, & More
  • The 5 Best First Credit Cards For Beginners [February 2024]

In addition, if you have the United Explorer℠ Card  you can get 1 free checked bag for you and a companion on your itinerary.

United Seat Specs & Inflight Amenities

United Airlines Fleet Seat Specs

United Airlines has 14 different types of aircraft with varying cabin classes and seat specs.

United Express operates a further 5 aircraft through its partner airlines. You can view the aircraft and seat specs here .

United Airlines Business Class

United Business & First

  • Premium leather seat with extra space and comfort, featuring a headrest that adjusts 6 ways
  • Storage space for personal items
  • Universal AC power plug
  • Mobile device holder
  • United Wi-Fi (fee applies)
  • Complimentary inflight beverages including beer, wine, spirits, and illy coffee
  • DIRECTV with more than 100 TV channels plus movies
  • Dining options in partnership with The Trotter Project

United Airlines Polaris Business Class

Polaris Business & First

  • Saks Fifth Avenue bedding
  • Sleep-inspired amenities (cotton pajamas on flights over 10 hours)
  • Soho House’s Cowshed Spa skincare items
  • Lie-flat beds
  • 16″ HD monitor

Premium Plus

  • Larger seat with more legroom, leg and footrests
  • Complimentary beverages
  • 13″ monitor
  • Power and USB sockets
  • Noise-reducing headphones

United Airlines Economy Plus

  • Extra legroom
  • Situated nearer the front of the plane for quicker disembarkation
  • Eligible to earn Premier qualifying dollars
  • All standard economy benefits

United Airlines Economy

Economy (Basic and Standard)

  • On domestic flights and to/from the Caribbean and Latin America, customers receive complimentary soft drinks (including illy coffee) and can purchase snacks/meals and alcohol.
  • On international flights, customers receive complimentary food and beverages including house beer and wine
  • Entertainment varies by aircraft (details can be found on the Inflight Amenities tab on United’s Flight Status page )

Hot Tip: Check out our post on United Airlines’ boarding policy so you’ll know what to expect from the boarding process as almost all airlines have a different procedure!

United Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a real mixed bag with United Airlines. Their social media channels and Tripadvisor reviews seem to attract many compliments from loyal customers, which is unusual as these outlets are often utilized to rant and rave about poor service!

Additionally, their PR team is pretty genius, sponsoring a number of great causes and shouting about their good deeds on social media — so even if the service was only mediocre for a customer, their philanthropic ways may improve consumer brand impression.

Lost baggage is a real gripe for United customers, being one of the most prominent issues on review sites. Also, inconsistencies of aircraft age can lead to disappointment in inflight amenities.

One customer complaint we found said they had experienced a seat-back entertainment system on once international flight and not on another. That’s going to disappoint any traveler.

United prides itself on their personal device entertainment, but this does rely on the customer having a smartphone/tablet at their disposal.

United Airlines had 1,169 complaints lodged against them from January-September 2018 according to the  September 2018 Air Travel Consumer Report . The chart below represents the complaints by category.

  • Flight problems (cancellation, delay, or misconnection): 292
  • Baggage: 185
  • Customer service: 174
  • Reservation, ticketing, boarding: 110
  • Disability : 86
  • Refunds: 45
  • Oversales: 34
  • Discrimination: 8
  • Advertising: 5

There are a number of different review websites out there when it comes to airline ratings. Here are a few of the most popular so you can see the general consumer opinion for United Airlines.

Skytrax Ranking: 3 Star Airline (out of 5)

Skytrax Customer Rating:  3/10 (average from 2,594 reviews)

United Airlines Skytrax

TripAdvisor Airline Review Rating:  3/5 (average from 36,791 reviews)

Kayak Customer Rating: 7/10 (average from 61,414 reviews)

AirHelp.com Overall Rating: 7.59/10 (departure/arrival performance, service, and satisfaction of claims processing)

Airlineratings.com Safety Rating :  7/7 (takes into consideration whether the airline has an IATA Operational Safety Audit Certification, government and crash records, plus information from the World’s Aviation Governing Body).

United Airlines Charities

United Airlines supports numerous charities across their main hub locations and across the globe. It strives to be a more sustainable airline supporting environmental charities and operations such as Clean the World and Conservation International.

United also supports many youth projects, including Youth Guidance with the goal of inspiring future leaders.

Overall, customer satisfaction seems to be somewhere in the middle for United — and as with other legacy U.S. carriers, there will always be a place for the airline with reasonable fares and route availability.

United will never have the sass and style of Virgin Atlantic or the service and luxury of the Middle Eastern airlines, but it serves its purpose and does have a loyal customer base (although this may be dwindling slightly, with many referencing the “good old days” when United was great).

Their current focus seems to be on revamping their premium cabins, with their Polaris offering in business and first — but we’re hoping they don’t neglect economy for too much longer either.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card ® from American Express, click here .

Frequently Asked Questions

What alliance is united apart of.

United is apart of Star Alliance partnership.

What is the United carry-on baggage allowance?

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About Erin Miller

An experienced points hacker, Erin is Alex’s partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points with in-depth guides and relationship management. Erin’s work has been cited in multiple major publications.

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  • United Airlines

United Airlines is a national regular airline that was founded in 1926 in the United States. United Airlines fleet consists of 839 aircraft with 13 Boeing B787 10, 38 Boeing B787 9, 12 Boeing B787-8, 22 Boeing B777 300ER, 55 Boeing B777 200ER, 19 Boeing B777 200 North America, 16 Boeing 767 400ER, 38 Boeing 767 300ER, 21 Boeing B757 300, 40 Boeing B757 200, 148 Boeing B737 900, 141 Boeing B737 800, 53 Boeing B737 700, 30 Boeing B737 MAX 9, 3 Boeing B737 MAX 8, 96 Airbus A320 200, 94 Airbus A319 100. The United Express branded fleet consists of about 600 Bombardier and Embraer aircraft . Code share airlines for United Airlines are: Aegean Airlines, Aer Lingus, Aeromar, Air Canada, Air China, Air Dolomiti, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Azul, Boutique Air, Brussels Airlines, Cape Air, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Edelweiss, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, Eurowings, EVA Air, Hawaiian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Olympic Air, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Silver Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, Vistara .

United Airlines serves 60 countries around the world on routes with flights to the United States .

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United debuts 'new' first-class seat with 2 evolutionary upgrades

Zach Griff

There's a new first-class recliner coming to the pointy end of many United Airlines jets.

On Wednesday, the Chicago-based carrier debuted a next-generation domestic first-class seat that boasts a few improvements over the existing product.

Specifically, the new seats feature a Qi wireless charging pad just underneath the armrest in the center console.

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This will allow you to simply place your latest-generation smartphone on the pad to recharge your battery. Qi wireless chargers are an additional power option on top of the seat's standard universal AC outlet and fast-charging USB-C port.

united airlines seat types

Personally, I'm not a big fan of Qi chargers on airplanes. As it stands, wireless charging technology is finicky even when you have your phone lying stationary on your desk. Add in all the wear and tear from repeated use on a plane flying (and sometimes bouncing) 500 miles per hour through the sky, and you're likely better off packing a real, wired charger. (Plus, wired charging is usually faster than Qi charging pads, too.)

The other upgrade that United is introducing is a new pie-shaped privacy divider between seats. This 11-inch by 19-inch divider should help boost your sense of personal space — something that's traditionally been lacking in domestic first-class products.

Unfortunately, this privacy divider is fixed in place, so it cannot be lowered if you're traveling with a companion.

united airlines seat types

United expects to debut this seat on its first Boeing 737, registered N73259 , later this month, and it'll start rolling out more broadly later this summer.

The airline will install the seat on a total of 200 domestic planes by 2026, including on the standard and MAX versions of the Boeing 737, as well as the soon-to-fly Airbus A321neo.

"As we evolve the onboard experience, we're upending old industry norms and anticipating future needs to accommodate the new ways people live and travel," Mark Muren, managing director of identity, product and loyalty, said in a statement.

However, aside from the two aforementioned upgrades, the new first-class seats are essentially the same as the ones that United debuted earlier this year on the retrofitted Airbus A319 .

united airlines seat types

Even the new A319 seats are simply a small evolution from the current product first introduced in 2015. They feature minor updates such as small privacy wings on the side of each seat, a larger tray table and 13-inch entertainment screens with Bluetooth connectivity.

This version of the refreshed first-class seat will be rolled out to more than 200 Boeing 737, Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft by 2025.

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These new and retrofitted products are part of United's big "Next" campaign.

Back in 2021, the carrier unveiled a massive retrofit project alongside its largest-ever aircraft order for a whopping 270 narrow-body jets; all were branded under a so-called United Next campaign designed to direct the company through its post-pandemic development.

To coincide with the United Next kickoff, the airline debuted a new domestic cabin experience that includes seatback TVs, larger overhead bins, and faster and more reliable Wi-Fi, among other upgrades.

While factory-fresh planes (namely the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and new Boeing 737 MAX 9) already come installed with the new signature domestic interiors, United has its work cut out for it: retrofitting its existing domestic fleet with the new signature interior.

Now, with the introduction of these new first-class products, we're getting a first look at what exactly that new signature interior looks like.

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Your airfare includes a seat, but the airline wants you pay more | Cruising Altitude

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I am old enough to remember a time when you could pick your seat for free on every flight on just about every airline. That’s because those pesky fees are relatively new. They started to gain traction among full-service carriers in the mid-to-late 2000s, and by 2018, the big three U.S. carriers were all charging them on at least some tickets.

There was a time when there were no Byzantine ticket structures where some fares included seat selection, and others barred you from choosing your location on the plan in advance, or at least from doing so for free.

But nowadays it’s different.

Low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier, of course, charge extra for just about everything, but even the legacy carriers, American, Delta and United, have fare classes in economy now that don’t include seat selection. Some charge extra depending on the seat’s location, even if you’ve paid for a ticket that includes selection.

British Airways takes things a step that is ridiculously far: charging business class passengers a fee on top of their ticket price to select their flatbed seats. For example, on a round-trip itinerary departing from New York on Feb. 22 and returning from London on March 6, it costs around $130 per person each way to choose a seat in business, on top of the $3,300 cost of the round-trip ticket. Keep in mind that pricing is also dynamic and will rise or drop depending on timing and the exact location of the seat, with seats in the center of the plane closer to the lower class dividers costing less.

I’m afraid these fees are becoming a staple with airlines.

“These fees are beginning to rival what they collect for baggage at many carriers,” Jay Sorensen, president at the airline consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany, told me. “The rapid embrace of assigned seating fees by all airlines has been a surprise to me. The extent to which they have been such powerful generators of revenue has been a surprise to me as well.”

Of course, there are ways to avoid paying the fees, from flying an airline that doesn’t charge them or buying a ticket that includes seat selection to having frequent flyer status that gives you free seats as a perk. 

Keep in mind that these fees are technically optional. If you buy a ticket, you’ll have a seat on your flight. In many cases, you just won’t have the option of choosing where that seat is without shelling out extra. Airlines will assign you an unclaimed seat when you check in if you haven’t paid to pick one in advance.

Here’s what to know.

How common are seat selection fees?

Most airlines charge seat selection fees one way or another, Sorensen said, whether it’s by selling lower-fare tickets that don’t include seat preferences or simply by making passengers pay for their seats individually. Even Southwest Airlines, which famously does not assign seats, has its ways of generating seating revenue.

“One could say, well, Southwest doesn’t have these fees, but Southwest does have an early boarding fee,” Sorensen said. “If you want to get a better seat, you’re going to have to pay a priority boarding fee.” 

If you’ve flown in the last few years, you’ve probably seen at least some of the ways airlines squeeze extra revenue out of their seats. The Wall Street Journal recently reported economy seat selection fees as high as $100 on some flights.

How can I avoid paying for a seat on an airplane?

Although the fees have become common across the industry, not every passenger on every flight pays them outright. For example, as a frequent flyer with Delta Air Lines, I have complimentary access to preferred seats in their main cabin – those closer to the front of the plane that other passengers would need to pay extra to select during booking.

Sorensen said free seat selection for preferred or extra legroom seats is a valuable, if somewhat frustrating, perk for frequent flyers, especially now that upgrades are getting harder to come by.

For more casual travelers, however, avoiding seat selection fees can be difficult. Even if you don’t pay them directly, you may be compelled to buy a more expensive ticket that will let your entire travel group stick together onboard. If you’re already paying extra, you may also be tempted to buy a higher-fare class, which can provide perks like more legroom or a nicer seat, though, of course, at a steeper price.

What happens if I don’t pay for seat selection?

As I mentioned previously, you don’t have to pay to select a seat, but you’re much more likely to wind up stuck between two strangers at the back of the plane if you don’t. 

Are airline seat selection fees legal?

The Biden administration has taken a hard look at ancillary airline revenue, and Congress is considering different legislation to crack down on airline seating fees.

President Joe Biden urged Congress in March 2023 to introduce legislation that would bar airlines at least from charging fees for families with young children who want to sit together, and some airlines have already voluntarily implemented such policies.

The Department of Transportation has a dashboard that outlines these policies by airline.

For now, however, airline seat fees remain unrestricted and hard to avoid.

Zach Wichter is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in New York. You can reach him at [email protected]

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The Guide to Breeze Airways Seat Selection

Alisha McDarris

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Table of Contents

Breeze Airways seating chart and seat types

How to select a seat on breeze, breeze airways seat selection fees, breeze airways seat selection recapped.

Considering booking a flight on Breeze Airways?

To better understand its seating chart and when you may need to pay extra for specific seats, here's an overview of selecting a seat on Breeze Airways.

First things first: Breeze Airways is a budget airline that charges for everything from carry-on bags to seat selection to snacks, so if you prefer to choose your seat, expect to shell out a few extra bucks (or a few hundred depending on the options you select).

The Breeze Airways seating map is fairly simple. Depending on the type of aircraft, there are only two to three seating options.

All aircraft feature standard and extra legroom seats.

The A220 aircraft also have a Breeze Ascent section that offers a recliner-style seat.

Standard seats

The bulk of standard seating is in the back half of the plane with family seating, which is reserved for those traveling with kids 12 and under. Standard seats have 30 inches of legroom and USB power outlets.

Extra legroom

Before standard seating is the extra legroom zone, where every seat features 3 more inches of space to stretch out over standard. This seating class also includes a seatback screen with entertainment options.

Breeze Ascent

The Breeze Ascent zone is in the front of the plane where you typically find traditional first or business class seats. Indeed, this area is as close to business class as you’ll find on Breeze flights, with recliner-style seats, more legroom, power outlets and free snacks and drinks.

» Learn more: How the Breeze Airways cancellation policy works

During booking

The easiest way to select a seat on a Breeze flight is during booking. There are two ways to do so: by choosing the Nice booking option and selecting and purchasing a seat for each direction of travel, or by purchasing a Nicer or Nicest Bundle, which include seat selection in the extra legroom or Breeze Ascent sections, respectively.

Nice: If you select the Nice booking option, you’ll be taken to a seat map with seating options labeled with their respective prices.

Nicer or Nicest: If you select the Nicer or Nicest bundles, the price for seats in the included sections (and every section below it) will show as $0. On this screen, you can select whichever seat you desire.

If you opt not to choose a seat during booking, you’ll be assigned one randomly at check-in.

After booking

If you have already booked your flight but would like to add seat selection, you can even after you’ve checked in, if the seats you want are still available.

Just log into your Breeze account, navigate to the “My Trips” page, select your desired reservation and click “Add” or “Edit” next to the icon of a seat by each passenger’s name.

Repeat the process for each traveler on your reservation, save the changes and then check out to pay for your seat selection.

» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now

The price for seat selection depends on which section you wish to sit in and whether you’re purchasing seat selection alone or a Nicer or Nicest Bundle, which include seat selection in roomier zones.

Beyond seat selection, the Nicer and Nicest bundles also include at least one checked bag and one carry-on.

The price to upgrade to a bundle depends on the aircraft and route you plan to fly. While a flight from Vermont to Orlando, Florida, might cost $80 to upgrade to a Nicer bundle, a flight from Colorado to California might be only $50.

Individual seats range in price.

$10 to $59 for a standard seat.

$30 to $99 for a seat with extra legroom.

$50 to $399 for a seat in the Breeze Ascent zone.

united airlines seat types

If you both want more legroom and a checked or carry-on bag, a bundle could be a better deal than paying for these upgrades individually.

Learn more: How to navigate costly airline seat selection fees

Use the Breeze seat map to select a standard, extra legroom or Breeze Ascent seat (availability depends on route).

Purchase a seat a la carte or upgrade to a Nicer or Nicest bundle, which include seat selection as a perk.

You can add on seat selection during booking or after, even after you’ve checked in. But the sooner you decide, of course, the more options you’re likely to have.

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A Complete Guide to Delta Fare Classes — and How to Score an Upgrade

Here's what you need to know about Delta One, Premium Select, Comfort+, and Main Cabin.

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Cabin Classes on Delta

How to choose a cabin class, fare class breakdown, how miles are earned, how to redeem miles for upgrades.

Courtesy of Delta

Flying Delta? Before you book your flight, take a look through our guide to Delta's cabin classes, which range from Delta One to basic economy. Discover the benefits associated with each class — and find out how to get upgraded from one to another using miles.

Delta One and Delta One Suites

Delta One is Delta's business-class product with lie-flat seats. (Delta One Suites are the same class of service, but the seats have a half-height sliding door for additional privacy.) These are most frequently used on transcontinental domestic flights as well as long-haul international routes.

Seats: While all Delta One seats are lie-flat, the specific design varies per aircraft, and some seats are better than others — some are quite old, offer little privacy, or require you to climb over your neighbor to reach the aisle. When booking a flight, you can usually look up what type of aircraft you'll be flying, but that's always subject to change before departure. You're not guaranteed a specific aircraft, and you might end up with an inferior Delta One seat if there's an equipment swap.

Meals: Delta One passengers are served plated hot meals; alcoholic beverages are complimentary. 

Amenities: Delta One passengers receive an amenity kit with Grown Alchemist toiletries, noise-canceling headphones to use during the flight, and a mattress pad for the seat (on some flights).

Baggage Allowance: Delta One passengers can check two bags weighing up to 70 pounds each for free.

Other Perks: Delta One passengers are granted access to Delta's lounges, known as the Sky Club. They're also given Sky Priority check-in and early boarding.

Premium Select

Premium Select is Delta's premium economy product. This is the newest cabin class, and it falls in between Delta One and Comfort+. Only some of Delta's fleet has this cabin — it's most commonly found on long-haul international routes.

Seats: Seats are not lie-flat, but they're more spacious and have a deeper recline than economy. They also have footrests for additional comfort.

Meals: Premium Select meals are not plated like those in Delta One, but they're more elevated compared to economy dishes. Alcoholic beverages are complimentary.

Amenities: Premium Select passengers enjoy a scaled-back version of the Delta One amenity kit — Grown Alchemist lip balm, an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, ear plugs, and socks — as well noise-canceling headphones. Bedding includes a memory foam pillow and a blanket.

Baggage Allowance: Premium Select passengers can check two bags weighing up to 50 pounds each for free.

Other Perks: At check-in, Premium Select passengers can use the Sky Priority desk, and they're given earlier boarding.

First Class

Delta's first class is the top cabin class on most domestic and short-haul international flights. (Delta planes don't have both Delta One and first class; they'll have one or the other.)

Seats: Seats are more akin to spacious armchairs, not like economy's benches with armrests. They do not lie-flat, but they do have extra recline.

Meals: Meal service depends on the distance of your flight and time of day. Some flights enjoy hot meals, others have cold dishes, and a few have extensive snack baskets.

Amenities: First-class passengers are given either earbuds or noise-canceling headphones, depending on the plane and route.

Baggage Allowance: First-class passengers can check two bags weighing up to 70 pounds each for free.

Other Perks: First-class passengers are given Sky Priority check-in and can board the aircraft first. They are not granted Sky Club access.

Comfort+

Comfort+ is technically in the economy cabin, but it offers a higher class of service and more legroom than Main Cabin seats. It can be found on all Delta aircraft on all routes.

Seats: The seats are standard economy seats, but they have more legroom than those in Main Cabin. They're also located in the front of the plane.

Meals: Meal service depends on the distance of your flight and time of day. On long-haul flights, you'll be served a hot meal; otherwise, you'll just be offered snacks. Most notably, alcoholic beverages are free for Comfort+ passengers.

Amenities: On long-haul international flights, Comfort+ passengers are given an eye mask and earplugs. On all flights, Comfort+ passengers are offered earbuds.

Baggage Allowance: If you're in Comfort+, you'll have to pay to check a bag. You can take a carry-on and personal item on board for free.

Other Perks: Comfort+ boards before passengers in Main Cabin.

Main Cabin is the standard economy class, found on all Delta planes on all routes.

Seats: You know the drill — economy seats are fairly small with limited legroom. Main Cabin passengers can pay to sit in an exit row for more space.

Meals: As with Comfort+, meal service depends on the distance of your flight and time of day: you'll either get a hot meal or snacks. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.

Amenities: Main Cabin passengers are given earbuds. On overnight flights, you may be offered a blanket and pillow.

Baggage Allowance: Main Cabin passengers are allowed one personal item and one carry-on bag; checked bags cost extra.

Basic Economy

Basic economy lies within the same area as Comfort+ and Main Cabin — that is, the economy cabin — but it's a heavily restricted and therefore discounted fare.

Seats: Basic economy seats are the same as those in Main Cabin.

Meals: Basic economy passengers are served the same meal as those in Main Cabin; alcoholic beverages can be purchased.

Baggage Allowance: You must pay for checked bags, but a carry-on and personal item are free.

Amenities: Basic economy passengers are given earbuds. On overnight flights, you may be offered a blanket and pillow.

Other Perks: There are no other perks given to basic economy passengers, unless you count the discounted fare.

Choosing a cabin class is largely a personal choice, factoring in budget and comfort. The one rule we tend to stand by, though, is skipping basic economy if you your budget allows. It's the most restrictive ticket, as you won't be able to pick your seat in advance, meaning you'll likely end up in the middle, nor will you be able to earn frequent flier miles.  

If you thought you were only picking a cabin class, think again. Fare classes are specific codes that ultimately indicate the price and terms (whether you can get an upgrade, refund, or more) of a specific ticket. Within each cabin, there are numerous fare classes: With Delta, there are around 20 standard fare classes overall, plus a handful of exceptions such as ones for award tickets (that is, those booked with miles) and upgraded fares. Full-fare tickets cost more than discounted fare tickets, but it's really difficult to pick your fare class.

Delta's website typically shows one to two fare classes per cabin when booking online: fully refundable and non-refundable. "If you're looking for full-fare tickets you can generally buy those online, but if you need to specify a particular fare class, you'll need to call and speak to an agent," says Gary Leff, travel expert at View From the Wing .

Now, why does fare class even matter? For most fliers, it probably won't, as it's more of a technical detail for the airlines to manage inventory. But fare class sometimes does make a difference to those chasing status — higher fare classes command higher prices and therefore more Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), Delta's metric for earning elite status. So, if you're a status chaser, it might behoove you to book a higher fare class to earn more MQDs.

If you want to figure out your fare class, look for a letter in parentheses. "Once the search starts, Delta displays the actual fare code with a letter, say Z for discount business or D for more flexible business, typically at a higher price point," says Gilbert Ott, director of partnerships at Point.me . 

Delta's loyalty program is called SkyMiles , and it's fairly straightforward to earn miles through it. Once you sign up for a free SkyMiles account, you will earn a certain number of miles per dollar spent on flights, regardless of your cabin class. But the number of miles does increase for those with elite status. Here are the SkyMiles earning rates based on status tier.

Status: SkyMiles Member; Miles Earned: 5 SkyMiles per $1 spent

Status: Silver Medallion; Miles Earned: 7 SkyMiles per $1 spent

Status: Gold Medallion; Miles Earned: 8 SkyMiles per $1 spent

Status: Platinum Medallion; Miles Earned: 9 SkyMiles per $1 spent

Status: Diamond Medallion; Miles Earned: 1 SkyMiles per $1 spent

After booking your ticket, you may be offered a chance to upgrade to a higher cabin class using cash or SkyMiles via the app or website — but not always. And if you're offered a deal, the rate presented might differ from your travel companion.

"Delta is among the best in the world with data collection and partner data sharing. The airline has been able to glean brilliant insights by understanding how people spend in their daily lives thanks to their Amex partnership, Starbucks, and more," says Ott. "This allows them to personalize offers based on a variety of factors to incentivize behavior. Some airlines can discern that a person has more to spend and if they just try the better experience, they might love it and buy it outright."

But because of this, it's not reliable to hold out for an award upgrade, since there's no regularity. "Delta doesn't want to make it easy and predictable to get a good buy-up offer, or else you'll just wait for that — they'd be undercutting their own pricing," says Leff. "Their goal is to extract revenue they wouldn't otherwise receive when discounting." So, if you really want that higher cabin class, your best bet is to pay up at the get-go.

And even if you're offered an award upgrade, is it a good deal in the first place? Well, it's better for your wallet to spend miles rather than dollars, but Delta SkyMiles isn't necessarily the most valuable rewards program out there. 

"SkyMiles has done its best to reduce the value you're going to get for your points so that it's rare to get an outsized return. In my experience, Delta miles are worth less than those of most competitors," says Leff. "That's even frequently true when redeeming miles for partner business class awards, although the best value for SkyMiles awards is when your trip doesn't touch the United States — for example, Mexico to Europe rather than the U.S. to Europe."

There's no right or wrong way to spend your miles, so you'll have to weigh your specific situation before making any decisions. Ott says, "It really depends on the value being offered at the time, and how your cash finances relate to your Delta SkyMiles points balances."

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Simple Flying

British airways' business class seats: what to expect onboard.

One of several configurations may used depending on the aircraft type.

Like any typical full-service airline, UK flag carrier British Airways offers a comprehensive business class offering across its mainline fleet. Known as Club World, or Club Europe on short-haul aircraft, this product comes in various shapes and sizes depending on the exact aircraft and its seating configuration.

Club Suites have taken the offering up a level

Recent years have seen British Airways begin to overhaul its Club World offering with the introduction of a brand-new product known as the Club Suite. The most notable change this new seat has offered is the introduction of a four-abreast 1-2-1 configuration, with every single seat offering direct aisle access.

With first class cabins becoming a rarity in the world of modern commercial aviation, high-end long-haul business class offerings with low-density configurations have taken on greater importance. The introduction of the Club Suite, which features personal doors for additional privacy, 198cm (6ft 6in) beds, and 17-inch entertainment screens, according to BA , is the airline's way of joining this trend.

BA Club Suite

Trip Report: British Airways Boeing 777 Club Suite New York JFK to London Heathrow

A British Airways Club Suite seat.

However, as lovely as the new product is, it is yet to become a ubiquitous offering on British Airways' long-haul aircraft. According to aeroLOPA , it features on all of the carrier's Airbus A350-1000s and Boeing 787-10s, but only some of its 777-200ERs, 777-300ERs, and 787-8s. Meanwhile, none of its A380s or 787-9s have been fitted with Club Suites, although retrofits are planned for the coming years.

The older product

For British Airways' planes that don't yet feature the Club Suite, passengers in Club World must contend with a product that is sadly now rather outdated. On wider aircraft such as the double-decker Airbus A380, these seats are laid out in a staggered 'yin-yang' configuration with a 2-4-2 layout.

In other words, this setup features twice as many seats per row as the new Club Suite product. Furthermore, half of the seats face backward, and both the bed and entertainment screen are significantly smaller than the new offering. Specifically, these measure 183cm (6ft) and 12 inches, respectively.

Want answers to more key questions in aviation? Check out the rest of our guides here !

Passengers sitting in the old British Airways Club World Cabin.

Of course, the same high standards when it comes to the onboard service of food and drink are still present. However, where possible, these older seats are best avoided from a comfort point of view. British Airways' 787s are slightly better in terms of their old Club World product configuration, with 'only' seven seats per row.

The short-haul offering is rather basic

BA's short-haul offering is Club Europe, and, like many European flag carriers, simply consists of a blocked middle seat . While this offers greater operational flexibility with varying business and economy loads, the comfort levels are obviously inferior to, for example, domestic first class in the US. That being said, Club Europe passengers do get better catering and baggage than their economy counterparts.

What do you make of British Airways' various Club World configurations? How many have you flown in? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

British Airways Tile

British Airways

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