United Airlines Economy Plus marketing fail

In reviewing a seat map for an upcoming trip, I noticed something unusual on my Embraer 145 ExpressJet flight – rows one and 12 were showing as Economy Plus. Odd, I thought, since I’ve never seen that before having flown on ERJ-145s previously and while there is a touch more legroom, it’s certainly not what I’d consider to be United’s standard Economy Plus product. Particularly row one.

In this now ancillary revenue-driven industry, however, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at United wanting to bilk a few extra bucks out of “premium†rows on single-cabin regional jets.  Still a bit shady in my opinion, but then I was even more taken back looking at my return from the same city.

This time I am on a Trans States Airlines Embraer 145 and the seat map didn’t show the same Economy Plus zone, if you will, in green. So I decided to log out and do a test booking as a non-elite flyer. I chose some dates and picked an ExpressJet flight one-way and Trans States on the way back. In selecting seats on ExpressJet, I was indeed offered to buy up to Economy Plus.

a screenshot of a screenOn the way back on Trans States, I was able to select the same exit row seat (which I thought was odd by itself as a non-elite) without having to pay for it.

a screenshot of a screenAnd so my final itinerary shows me in the same seat on both flights, albeit different operating carriers, on the same type of aircraft, but one costs $19 and is labeled Economy Plus.

a screenshot of a computer screenTotal marketing fail. It’s inconsistent, deceptive and absolutely doesn’t live up to what Economy Plus truly is. The infrequent traveler will be nothing but confused and sorely let down if they were to book such an itinerary, probably leaving a lasting impression that they wasted 20 bucks on a crappy seat with United.

I checked more markets and found the same scenario. It seems only ExpressJet ERJ-145s are loaded with this faux-Economy Plus offering. United either needs to remove the sale of those seats it from ExpressJet or – gasp – add it across all United Express carriers operating the Embraer 145.

Do the right thing, United… just remove the sale of Economy Plus from smaller single-cabin regional jets. The offering doesn’t live up to the marketed product on those jets.


  1. I’ve started to notice this as well. I think (it is too early for me right now) E+ also shows up on exit and bulkhead for CRJ-200s as well. I’ve also noticed certain CR-700’s show up as ExPlus on .bomb and some do not, despite all having F and E+. I have not investigated as deeply as you have 🙂

  2. I’ve actually noticed the E+ buy up for quite a while on the 145. Living in GRR, the 145 is the bread/butter aircraft used to feed Chicago. I cant remember the last time I didnt see it offer seat 1 and 12 as premium seats. You’re right, it is not exactly the E+ you’d expect!

    • @LufthansaFlyer: Thanks for the data points. My last 145 flight was early last year and knew at that time E+ wasn’t showing… maybe I was on Trans States, then.

  3. Why remove E+ from single cabin regional jets? Those seats ARE better than most of the rest. I recently flew on two ERJs with a companion and was very happy to get the exit row seats in the back as an elite. They have to do something to block them off from general members. Creating two categories, E+ and exit row, seems overly complicated since I’m sure they would charge the same premium for each.

    My guess is this is a temporary glitch, and at some point all ERJs will have the exit rows blocked off as E+.

    • @Scotttrick: I agree that it’s nice to get those seats as an elite, but I don’t think they should SELL them as E+ when it’s really not a true E+ product. Sorry about my wording… they should keep those seats as they are, but remove the E+ designation.

  4. I guess I was up too early or too late when I thought I saw that. I agree, they need to be consistent. And back in the days when I was not elite and did by E+ once and a while, I would not be happy paying $19 for 1A…12A maybe, but I’m getting that seat 90% of the time anyways.

    • @hulagrrl210: Row 9 on the 120 is fantastic, yes.
      @Mark: Spirit doesn’t do that yet? 😉
      @Murad: The CRJ-700 and the EMB-170 do have respectable E+ sections, but if she was on this example or the CRJ-200 I totally agree with you.
      @AAdvantage Geek: 😉

  5. If we are not careful UA may start to market all A seats (1A, 2A,3A, etc.)as E+ as you have the luxury of not having anyone seated next to you. Perhaps they are waiting for Spirit to start first?

  6. My wife was traveling with our infant son a couple of months ago. She booked one of these economy plus on a regional jet thinking that it will be similar amount of extra leg room as the original product. These are practically same seats as regular economy with no noticeable amount of extra leg room. Very cheap and shady practice.

  7. I have tickets for a United flight and the only seats available are E+. I don’t want to pay extra and wonder what is going to happen when I board the plane? Do they have to give me one of the E+ seats at no additional charge?

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