united ecomoy

Apparently, behavioral science proves window seat people are more selfish than aisle people. One thing is for certain, there is definitely a code of airplane etiquette, wherever you’re seated. While we can’t attest to the validity, we definitely can wonder why the less selfish aisle people should pay more for their seats. United Airlines has just launched paid seating assignments for basic economy passengers – and the pricing is… strange.

a row of seats in an airplaneBackstory

United Airlines is one of the world’s largest airlines. The airline launched basic economy, which they claim makes travel affordable to more passengers. Basic economy tickets restrict travelers  from bringing full sized carry on bags and until now, did not allow seating assignments either. For most people needing a carry on or seat, they’d have to pay up to a higher fare (not cheaper). The airline now sells basic economy passengers a seating assignment, but the pricing is strange.

What The?

Years ago airlines figured out they could reap record profits by charging passengers for seating assignments. Some airlines even charge for advance seating assignments on $5,000 business class tickets! For basic economy passengers wanting to select a seat, ya know – to sit next to a loved one, travel companion or just not have the worst seat on the plane, United has an offer for you. United thinks aisle seats are worth $15, middle seats $5 and window seats $10. Which begs the question, is an aisle seat better than a window seat? United thinks so.

a white airplane flying in the skyIn Defense Of…

The window seat offers slightly extra room, thanks to the curvature of the aircraft and something to lean on. You also don’t have to get up when a window seat passenger needs to. The aisle on the other hand is often faster off the plane and doesn’t inconvenience anyone for any needs. The aisle seat is however prone to bumps from passing carts and passengers, which makes sleep more difficult. The middle seat? It just flat out sucks.


United basic economy tickets don’t allow people conned into buying them to purchase extra legroom or seats towards the front of the cabin. The best you’ll do is a completely normal aisle, window or middle seat. It’s nothing new for airlines to charge for preferred seating assignments, exit rows and what not, but whether it’s an aisle, middle or window – it’s traditionally been the same price. This is an amusing move from United. And one last important FYI: the difference between basic economy and normal economy is often just $20. Pay it, trust us.

Where would your $5-$15 go?


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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