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United Premium Economy: What You Need To Know

Last updated 08/31/2022 by

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Edited by

Fact checked by

United Premium Economy offers two upgrade packages for their basic economy seating: United Economy Plus and United Premium Plus. Economy Plus offers more space, while Premium Plus offers multiple benefits, including meal service and priority baggage handling.
Ah, the joy of flying. There’s a reason why some people want to buy their own small plane or helicopter. Of course, most of us cannot afford our own aircraft, so we have to settle for commercial air travel instead.
If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ve likely been faced with the option to fly with United Airlines at least once. You may even already be a fan of their work and hospitality. Since 2019, United Airlines offers its United Premium services to travelers on a budget who want to fly in a slightly better style.
If you’re planning a long-haul trip, you might be wondering whether United Premium Economy is worth the extra cost. Before you book your next flight, let’s go over this often-misunderstood United Airlines package.

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A quick explanation of United’s Economy packages

It’s important to recognize that United Airlines has several different economy seating options. All of these fall under the “economy” umbrella, but only two are considered “premium” seating choices. Here are the different economy packages that United Airlines offers:
  • Basic Economy. This is the bare-bones version of what all airlines offer: a seat in the economy class on a plane. No frills, no priority baggage handling, no priority check-in.
  • Economy Plus/Premium Economy. This is a Basic Economy ticket with more legroom. If you want extra space on the plane, this is the cheapest way to get it. You’ll be served the same meals as Basic Economy, and you won’t get free alcohol.
  • Premium Plus. Premium Plus is basically an economy ticket with all the bells and whistles that you would get for a First Class or Business Class ticket. These perks include a larger inflight entertainment screen and better hot meals.
To help you plan for your next United flight, let’s discuss how each ticket option will impact your trip.

What is United Premium Economy?

United Premium Economy is the official name of a special seating package on a United flight. This program comes at a premium price but can offer a lot of comfort for travelers who have longer legs and require larger seats.
If you have extra money or airline miles on a credit card to spend, this could be a good way to improve your flight experience without splurging on a Business Class or First Class ticket.

What does United Premium Economy include?

Premium Economy seats are just that: seats. They do not come with any perks aside from extra legroom. This package simply offers customers more space on a flight for an affordable price — six inches of extra legroom, to be precise.
Note that you may see this option referred to as “Economy Plus” on the United Airlines website and other websites. This is the same as Premium Economy. Whatever name you call it, you are getting an economy seat on a United Flight.

Can I get Premium Economy seats for free?

If you are a member of United’s MileagePlus program, then you get a complimentary upgrade to Premium Economy when you reach Premier Silver status or higher. This benefit is available to you and one companion you may be traveling with (or more if you reach Premier Platinum status).
You can earn Premier qualifying points (PQP) toward Premier status by flying with United or its Star Alliance partners. You can also earn PQP by making purchases with a MileagePlus credit card.

Pro Tip

Call or book ahead to ensure that you can get this perk for free. Not all flights will be able to accommodate free upgrades.

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What is Premium Economy/Economy Plus best for?

Economy Plus is your best option if you are looking for a better seat in the economy cabin with a little more space, but you don’t want to spend too much more than a Basic Economy ticket would cost. However, most travelers on long-haul flights may still find this single upgrade to be a less-than-stellar way to fly.

Is United Premium Economy the same as United Premium Plus?

Most frequent flyers tend to hear more about Premium Plus than they do about Premium Economy, and for good reason. United is far more interested in promoting its Premium Plus option, which is a higher upgrade that includes a lot more perks.
As the name suggests, Premium Plus is the upgraded version of Premium Economy — which means it’s also slightly more expensive.

What does United Premium Plus offer?

United Premium Plus lives up to its name, especially when you compare it to a Premium Economy ticket on the same flight. These perks are why many travelers prefer to upgrade to Premium Plus:
  • Free alcoholic beverages. Yes, it’s true; you get to enjoy complimentary alcoholic beverages on certain United flights as a Premium Plus customer.
  • Free checked bags. You get up to two free checked bags as a courtesy. As for carry-on luggage, each airline has a different policy, so you’ll want to read up on United’s rules before booking your Premium Economy or Premium Plus ticket.
  • Discounted lounge access. If you frequently travel on long-haul international flights, having access to the United Airlines lounge can help you relax before each trip. It’s not free, but the discount is pretty appealing.
  • Better dining. Premium Plus seats will have upgraded dining options that are served on real flatware with a cloth napkin. A complimentary hot entree will keep you satisfied during your flight. Fancy!
  • Extra space. The seat pitch in Premium Plus is a whopping 38 inches, and you also get an extra seven inches of legroom. This makes the Premium Plus seats far roomier than Premium Economy or Basic Economy seating.
  • Premier Access benefits. This complimentary package includes priority baggage handling, priority boarding, and exclusive security lanes.
  • Noise-reducing headphones. You also get a Saks Fifth Avenue blanket and a wider screen for your inflight entertainment.

Pro Tip

The airline industry is notorious for making sudden changes, especially on international flights. Make sure to ask what perks are available on your flight, as you may not have access to all benefits.

How much does Premium Economy and Premium Plus seating cost?

Standard economy seats will have the lowest prices you can get on any flight. However, figuring out how much any flight will cost is not always straightforward. The range of prices in the airline industry is notoriously wide, with all sorts of factors affecting costs, including the type of ticket, the distance you’ll be traveling, and how far out you book your flight.
In short, if you want to estimate the cost of your plane ticket, it’s best to do your own research into available tickets online. If you’re flying on a budget, we suggest traveling on one of the cheapest days to fly.


Can you cancel your Premium Economy or Premium Plus tickets?

Whether you have the ability to cancel your Premium Economy seats depends on the flight details. If you have tickets that come with a free refund policy, then you can get a refund. Otherwise, you may not be able to get your money back.

Is United Premium Economy seating available on all flights?

It depends where you want to go. All domestic flights within the 48 contiguous states have both options for premium seating on their flights. Premium Plus is also available on select international flights.

Is it worth upgrading to United Premium Plus?

One could argue that it’s worth upgrading to any Premium Economy product if you travel frequently. If you want even more perks, United also offers Polaris Business Class and several other upgrades.
With that said, if your primary concern is simply getting from Point A to Point B, a Basic Economy ticket is fine. United Premium Plus will definitely upgrade your travel experience, however, which is why it’s such a popular choice.

Can you bring dogs on a United Airlines flight?

United Airlines has a fairly strict policy about service dogs and pets when it comes to travel. In most cases, you can’t buy a seat for your dog, but service animals are allowed, as are small pets in their carriers. You should also make sure that you have pet insurance regardless of where you fly.
If you’re unsure what you should do in your particular situation, the best course of action is to call United Airlines prior to going to the airport. In some cases, you may need to pay an extra fee for your pet with your credit card.

Key Takeaways

  • United Airlines offers several different economy seats, ranging from Basic Economy to Premium Plus.
  • Economy Plus, also known as Premium Economy, is an upgrade that offers larger seats in a more convenient location on the seat map.
  • United Premium Plus gives you even more space, upgraded dining options, and priority baggage handling.
  • The most affordable way to travel is Basic Economy, followed by Economy Plus, then United Premium Plus.
  • If you have a United Airlines credit card or are a member of the United Airlines frequent flyer program MileagePlus, you may be able to get a complimentary upgrade to Premium Economy.
  • If you’re traveling on long-haul international flights, it’s highly advisable to upgrade to either premium option of economy seating.
If you are looking to fly to a new destination, it’s worth learning about what types of plane tickets you can get and how to find them for the cheapest prices possible. After all, perks like free drinks may seem like small potatoes, but they make kicking off a vacation way more enjoyable.
Regardless of whether you choose to fly United Premium Plus or not, there are still more factors to consider before you travel. For example, travel insurance can literally save your life while you’re abroad. Use SuperMoney’s comparison tool to find the right travel insurance for your next trip!

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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