United F & E+ Paid Flight Upgrades – Worth It?

June 12, 2012 in BLOG, TBEX, United - 2 Comments

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While doing online check-in for my United flight to Denver for TBEX I had hoped to score an E+ (Economy Plus) seat for free as Mommy Points did in her post, but I was not that fortunate.

I was, however, offered the opportunity to upgrade to First or Economy Plus for a slight fee.

Here were my choices:

1.  Upgrade to Economy Plus for $49.  I should be fair and note that there is a $30 Economy Plus option: middle seat in the Economy Plus section.

Yes, I’d like to pay $30 more to sit in the middle seat, please.  No thank you.  Who does that?

2.  For $54 I could sit in the Exit Row.  The Exit Row is my go to seating choice when I fly on American Airlines, but on AA, as an EXP I don’t have to pay for Exit Row seats.

Similarly, if you have elite status on United, Exit Row is free, but as you may remember from this post, I have all my eggs miles with one carrier – American.

3.  Lastly, I could upgrade to First for $79.

This is pretty much a no-brainer. If I planned to pay for an upgrade, key word in this sentence is if, I’d forgo the coach options and go straight to First.

I’d be curious to know how many chose a coach option.  During my check-in which lasted 15 minutes as I was debating over the value of the upgrade, at least one other person upgraded to F since the seat I would have chosen vanished during my procrastination decision making.

Upgrading was tempting as I’d never flown in first on United or been to a Red Carpet Club.  Comparing the First experience in United, post Continental merger, with American would be interesting, but not on the agenda for this week.

I chose not to upgrade for several reasons:

1) Cheap Frugal is my middle name.

I’m flying United because it was less than flying on my preferred airline, American; where I would have gotten Economy Plus seats for free, and if space was available, been upgraded for free to first class.

2) My ticket cost $225.

Upgrading to first would be 1/3 of the cost of my ticket.

3) I pay for my own travel.

No company paid travel for this gal.  It’s all on my dime.

4) My flight is only 3 hours.

Paying $79 for 3 hours breaks down to $26.33 an hour for the privilege of sitting upfront, having a free breakfast, lounge access, 2 free checked bags, and priority boarding.

5) Did I mention, cheap frugal is my middle name.

What would you have done?

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Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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  • russa December 2, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I would not upgrade to E+ for a 3 hour flight unless you had a tight connection and had to get off the aircraft quickly. Or, perhaps, if I knew there was a good chance for Tstorms and delays.

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