No extra legroom, just more money: United announces new charges in coach

December 12, 2018

Air travel alert: Even sitting in coach is getting way more expensive. Starting December 14, coach passengers on United Airlines who want to avoid the back of the plane may have to ante up for it, according to a December 10 report by CNBC.

The air carrier will charge a fee for so-called “preferred seats” on flights throughout its network. These seats don’t come with extra legroom or other perks. They’re standard economy seats are located behind the Economy Plus rows, which do come with more space to stretch out.

Ready to switch airlines? It won’t help. United’s rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines already have a surcharge in place for such seats, CNBC notes—pointing out that the airlines all seem to be attempting to get customers to pay up for perks that used to be included in airfare.

United did not say how much more travelers would have to pay for seats in these preferred locations. On competitors Delta and American, the prices vary by aircraft, route, and demand, the cable news outlet says.

For example, a preferred seat on a Delta flight from New York to Los Angeles in early January was $80. On an American flight from New York to Paris at that time, the price of a preferred location seat ranged from $62 to $81. Prices are for each leg of the itinerary.

Seating is a key part of the airlines’ bare-bones basic economy product, which United and American rolled out last year, following Delta. In exchange for what is usually the lowest fare, basic economy passengers can’t pick their seats ahead of time or make changes to their tickets. They also board last.

What’s next? Maybe charging for the oxygen masks that deploy when an airplane hits an air pocket and sinks rapidly in rough weather.

Research contact: @lesliejosephs

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