United’s $499 Gift to Me: Free Extra Legroom Seating on All Flights, But Why?

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united economy plus subscription gift

United Economy Plus Subscription Gift

Ah legroom. It is the one thing that is almost always in short supply when flying. Sure, if you always fly up front then legroom tends not to be an issue (except with US Airways legacy first class), but for most fliers legroom is important. Of course the taller you are (I am 6’2”) the more important it becomes. This is why most carriers have extra legroom seats for extra money.

United calls their extra legroom seating Economy Plus. They also offer yearly subscriptions which allow for unlimited Economy Plus upgrades. These subscriptions start at $499 for travel within the U.S. and go up from there depending on if you want to add a region and if you want to be able to upgrade companions flying with you.

To be honest, I had forgotten about United’s subscription to Economy Plus until I received the following email yesterday:


We’d love for you to experience all the great things we are changing here at United®, on the ground and in the air. That’s why we’re giving you a complimentary Economy Plus® subscription, valid until January 31, 2017.

Now you can enjoy a new level of comfort on our flights, including seats with extra legroom and room for your bag. Just reserve your Economy Plus seat when you book your trip.

Offer Terms

Here are the terms of the offer:

  1. Only the original recipient of this offer has received the complimentary Economy Plus® subscription.
  2. The Economy Plus subscription can be used only on flights operated by United® and United Express® in the 48 contiguous U.S. states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).
  3. The Economy Plus subscription is complimentary, and will not result in the subscriber earning Premier® qualifying dollars. The subscription is neither changeable nor transferable.
  4. The Economy Plus subscription is valid through January 31, 2017, and can be used to request an Economy Plus seat at no cost on flights between May 10, 2016, and January 31, 2017. Any flights taken after January 31, 2017, will not qualify under the Economy Plus subscription.
  5. Economy Plus seats on qualifying flights can be selected on united.com at booking, after booking before check-in, during check-in or at a check-in kiosk in the airport. Economy Plus seat assignments are not guaranteed.
  6. The subscriber’s MileagePlus® number must be included in the reservation in order to receive the subscription benefits.
  7. Offer is subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply.

Why Me?

united economy plus subscription gift
I checked and I do indeed get free Economy Plus.

I am truly baffled as to why I would be targeted. I flew on a total of 1 United revenue flight last year (SFO-LAS) and I have never been a huge United flyer. I did have an issue on an award flight last year with a falling roof panel and United’s response, so perhaps that put me into the system for something like this. Before you guess that I got this because I am a blogger, I doubt it. The email seems very polished and “for the masses”. Marketing doesn’t usually go all out in that manner for the press. I do suppose it is possible, but I doubt it.

My Thoughts on the Gift & Subscription

As a top-tier American Airlines elite, I often choose to fly that airline since I know I can choose extra legroom seats ahead of time and I also get upgraded quite often as well. While I’m not sure why United targeted me for this subscription, it may actually work. Since I know I can confirm better seats ahead of time, I might be tempted to fly with them if it makes more sense financially. Unfortunately since I get 1.6 cents per ThankYou point booking American with my Prestige that rarely happens.

I also wonder who the main audience is for this subscription. It seems to me that the people who would be flying enough to justify the cost, would probably already be elites and thus would get this for free. I suppose if you were just starting out then maybe you would want this, but you would become an elite soon enough and get it for free. It definitely is a niche product.


Check your emails for a subject of, “Congratulations on your Economy Plus subscription, our special way to thank you.” I almost missed it and perhaps you did too. I wonder if this is a widely targeted promotion or was just sent to an extremely limited number of accounts. Were you given an Economy Plus subscription and/or something else from United? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. arrrrgh!! and I bought a subscription to use on my direct flights to Hawaii and back! But, I have good reason. Let me vent, and maybe you can get a laugh.

    After I lost status, I flew to Hawaii one time in the cheap seats and sat next to the biggest d-bag ever! He sat on the aisle, wearing hunting camo – to Hawaii!! (he was not military) and decided he needed BOTH arm rails, and not just the arm rail but into my seat over the arm rail. Not only did he man-spread his arms, he also decided that he needed man-spread his legs and put one of his legs IN MY FOOT AREA! And any time I crossed my feet at the ankles, he would put his leg back! So I had to tell him that MY foot area is NOT your foot area and keep your leg in front of you. That isn’t the end of it folks, he also decided to read a newspaper and had it open with his hand in my face, which I moved out of my face, which he moved back until the next time he turned the page. This kept going on and on. He was a JERK. Needless to say, that dbag got on my last nerve. My civil requests were being met with his utter contempt for life and he was one of “those” people. There was not much I could do in terms of moving to a different seat since the flight was full and he was full of himself with obvious self importance. My sleeping pill kicked in and I went to sleep — something I do in stressful situations. I slept until….. he decided to read a book and woke me up by elbowing me in the back every time he turned the page. Then, still in a sleep fog and being unfiltered, I let him have it. He acted as if this is my problem instead of his inability to keep in his own personal space. My other seat mate became concerned and asked what is going on, I told her, she looked at the man, and said, sit in my seat. If that man messes with me, my husband will mess with him. So she and I switched seats and it was a good flight from that point on and the d-bag man was neutered.

    So that is why I bought a subscription for economy plus. I didn’t ever want to have to deal with that again going to Hawaii… or anywhere else.

    If United would give me a gift like this, you can bet that I would definitely fly them on revenue tickets (instead of American) and not just on my free award tickets to Hawaii – which is at least every 3 months or less!

  2. There’s a thread on flyertalk about this. UA didn’t just give out E+ but silver to some and even bumped the status of others. I went from gold to plat.

  3. Your headline is a bit inaccurate. You only get 8 months of the subscription, not full value of $499. Prorated, it’s more like a $300 gift.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Shawn. I got this email too. My question is if I have an existing award reservation (RAR-LAX-BOS). Can the upgrade be used just on the domestic leg (LAX-BOS)?

  5. I also received this offer. I’m swore them off a couple of years ago after a list of late arrivals and adventures. However, I did book them two weeks in a row as I start a new project. This will come in handy.

  6. Transfer your TYP to KrisFlyer, book UA awards and use your E+ to move up. Profit on any flight more than $200 (12500*1.6¢)

  7. Never flown United only because they have the worst plane when flying from Hawaii IMHO.
    I only joined their mileage program recently because of their contest.
    Didn’t get the above email though. But If they decide (more than likely not) to send it to me, it will be useless since it’s only the 48 contiguous states and I’d much rather fly other airlines for those like airlines where I can get free checked in bag.

  8. My husband and I both received the same email as you yesterday. We hardly ever fly on United. I think we’ve flown on them once in the last five years or so. Very strange, but we’ll take it!


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