Is United Premium Plus Worth It?
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A few years ago, United Airlines introduced a new cabin on some of its long-haul flights: United Premium Plus. You might have walked by those plush purple seats on your way to the back of the plane on a transatlantic flight.
So what is United Premium Plus, and is this new class of travel worth the cost?
The cabin is being offered on more flights to other regions, so let’s take a look at what you get by booking a Premium Plus seat on United and whether the upgrade is worth the money.
United Premium Plus is a premium economy cabin available on some long-haul international flights and domestic transcontinental routes. The cabin includes a larger reclining seat, premium food and drink selection, and a few amenities you won’t find when flying in economy.
» Learn more: What you need to know about United Premium Economy
United Premium Plus seats are located right behind the United Polaris business-class cabin. The layout is a 2-4-2 configuration on Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200ER aircraft, and a 2-3-2 configuration on Boeing 787-10 aircraft.
A Premium Plus seat on United is up to 19 inches wide, offering 38 inches of pitch and six inches of recline. (Pitch is the distance between your seat and the seat behind you.) If you’re familiar with the size of United’s domestic first class seat, this Premium Plus seat will feel similar.
Premium Plus seats feature adjustable leg rests, footrests, a power outlet and a USB charger to ensure a bit of comfort on a long-haul flight to Europe, Asia, Oceania or across the U.S.
In-flight service and on-the-ground perks
When it comes to in-flight service, you’ll receive a menu with enhanced meal and drink selections, silverware and cloth napkins on select long-haul routes. You’ll get a hot entrée, fruit, dessert and complimentary alcoholic beverages on premium transcontinental routes.
Film buffs get in-flight entertainment on a 13-inch seatback screen. On select international routes, you’ll receive United Premium Plus noise-canceling headphones for movies, TV shows and games.
Also available on international routes is Saks Fifth Avenue bedding (blanket and a pillow) and an amenity kit containing a sleep mask, a pair of earplugs, a pair of socks, toothbrush and Sunday Riley skincare products.
As for on-the-ground perks, you’ll get to check in using a Premier Access line at the airport, check up to two bags for free, access the dedicated overhead bin space and take advantage of discounted United Club access (on select international flights only).
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
United Economy Plus offers extra legroom over standard economy seats and two free checked bags, but you won’t notice any other differences in the seat and service.
Although you don’t get a luxurious flatbed in the sky when flying United Premium Plus, you get a larger seat, more space, an enhanced meal service, bedding and amenities. Think of it as a mid-tier aircraft cabin: not quite business, but not an economy class experience, either.
Upgrade prices vary, but expect to shell out hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on an upgrade from United economy class to United Premium Plus on an eight-hour international flight. It’s unclear why the gap is so wide when paying for an upgrade to Premium Plus, but it might be less expensive the closer you are to departure.
When you upgrade a United-operated flight using miles, the redemption rate depends on the fare class purchased and the regions of travel.
In April 2022, we found that upgrading a flight from San Francisco to Papeete, French Polynesia, from United economy to Premium Plus booked in a K fare would cost $656 on the way there and $2,147 on the way back.
A mileage upgrade in either direction would require 30,000 MileagePlus miles. However, upgrading the same flight booked in fare B would require 17,500 miles. To put it simply, the cheaper the ticket, the more miles you’ll need to upgrade it to a higher class of service.
» Learn more: Your complete guide to the United MileagePlus program
That depends on your personal preference. Before you pay for one of these seats, ask yourself if flying in the United Premium Plus cabin would improve your experience significantly.
Are you a tall person? Can you spend an overnight flight comfortably in economy class? Do you have restless leg syndrome? Answering questions like these can help you decide whether paying for a better seat is worth it (and how much you might be willing to shell out).
» Learn more: United basic economy vs. economy vs. economy plus
If it’ll cost thousands of dollars for an upgrade on an eight-hour flight? We probably wouldn’t recommend it. But if you’re offered a Premium Plus seat on a long flight for a few hundred dollars? It might be worth treating yourself to a little extra comfort and better service.
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