United finally is pretending to cave in to all those pesky
passengers who want a little more room to unfold their legs on
board. By removing one row of seats from every one of the 450
planes in its domestic fleet, the carrier will relegate an extra
five inches of leg room to the first several coach rows.
Unfortunately, those five inches won't come cheap. Not at all.
To qualify, you either have to fly at least 25,000 miles annually
on United or pay the full economy fare. One loophole: standby
passengers will get a shot at the "economy plus" seats.
In other words, if your clients are looking for discount fares,
any kind of discount at all, they're out of luck. Now, a more
cynical man than I might think that this move allows United to have
its cake and eat it too. It does, after all, allow United to boost
revenue without risking empty seats.
On the other hand, business travelers who spend big bucks on
United, either through frequent flying or paying full fares for
particular flights, deserve a break, and this decision does give
them one. Let's call it a draw.