Inch by Inch, Row by Row

by Nancy Bestor

seatIs upgrading to economy plus worth the cost? I’ve ignored the many offers I’ve seen when booking tickets online that say something like “Nancy, for just a few dollars more, you can upgrade to economy plus!” Obviously, it hasn’t been worth it to me to pay lots more for a seat with just a little more legroom. But depending on the length of the flight, the extra inches on offer, and the cost, perhaps it’s something I’ll consider in the future.

A very detailed report by says that if you book your ticket well in advance, premium economy is about 85% more expensive than regular economy. But it’s only 10-35% more expensive when booked closer to your travel date. The report goes on to say that many airlines drop the price of premium seats on the day of travel, so it’s best to check online 24 hours before your flight.

I’d say there’s hardly any chance at all that I’m going to pay 85% more for an economy plus ticket, but I might pay 10%, especially if my flight was 4+ hours.


The other thing to keep in mind is what you’re actually getting in a “premium seat”. The same report says that the seat pitch in standard United economy is 31 inches, while in economy plus it is 34. I can’t see myself being willing to pay any money for just three more inches of legroom. But I will admit that I’m of moderate height at 5’ 6”. If I were 6’ 2”, I might sing a different tune.

All this being said, I’d recommend doing your homework before paying for an economy plus seat. Find out exactly what you’re getting for the increase in price. Take a look at to see what the seats are like in the exact plane that you will be flying on. And then decide if you’re willing to roll the dice and see if economy plus seats on your flight really do get cheaper the closer you get to flying. I know it’s only money, but (on United at least) it’s also only three inches.

One thought on “Inch by Inch, Row by Row

  1. Tom Bestor says:

    As a six-foot-one person (with increasingly creaky knees), I can attest that that the extra money I pay for economy plus is usually worth it.

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