The United way


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.


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