Customers requiring extra seating

If you’re unable to sit safely and comfortably in a single seat in United Economy®, you’ll have to purchase an additional seat for each leg of your itinerary. You can buy the second seat for the same fare as your original seat if both seats are purchased at the same time. If you don’t buy an extra seat in advance, you may have to do so on the day of departure for the fare level available on the day of departure. You may instead choose to buy a ticket for United First®, United Business® or United Polaris℠ business class, or pay for an upgrade to a premium cabin if those seats are available. United Airlines isn’t required to provide additional seats or upgrades free of charge.

You’ll have to buy an additional seat or upgrade if you don’t meet one of the following criteria:

  1. You must be able to properly attach, buckle and wear the seat belt, with one extension if necessary, whenever the seatbelt sign is illuminated or as instructed by a crew member.*
  2. You must be able to stay seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the whole flight.
  3. You must not significantly encroach upon the adjacent seating space. See our seat maps.

We will not board you if you decline to buy a ticket for an additional seat or an upgrade for each leg of your itinerary when required.

If you do not require two seats but require a seat belt extension, you may ask for one from a flight attendant on board. You are not allowed to bring or supply your own seat belt extensions.

*The average length of the seatbelt extension is approximately 25 inches. As the seat designs on our aircraft vary, it is possible that the seatbelt extension presented on your flight provides less than 25 inches of additional coverage. Regardless of the actual additional length the extension provides, if you do not meet the first criteria listed above when using the extension provided on your flight, it will be necessary for you to purchase an additional seat or an upgrade, where available.

Additional conditions

The additional seat must be available without downgrading or unseating another customer. If an additional seat isn’t available on the flight for which you’re confirmed, you’re required to rebook on the next United flight with seats available for accommodation. We’ll waive penalties or fees that may otherwise apply to this change.

If you’re away from your home and must rebook for a flight for the following day, amenities, including applicable meals and hotel accommodations for one night, will be provided as appropriate. When you’re able to rebook for a later flight on the same day as originally scheduled, amenities will not be provided.

Bag allowances

Checked bag allowances are determined by the number of seats purchased. When two seats are purchased for one customer, the checked bag allowance is doubled. The number of carry-on items permitted is determined by the individual passenger allowances set by the TSA, rather than our policy. Consequently, the carry-on allowance isn’t doubled. Learn more about bag allowances.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes. Any additional collections or change fees will be charged based on the fare rules for the tickets purchased.

  • Due to safety considerations, you must still buy the extra seat if you’re unable to properly attach, buckle and wear the seat belt, with one extension if necessary, whenever the seatbelt sign is illuminated or as instructed by a crew member. You also must remain seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the whole flight. This doesn’t mean that you can’t lift up the armrest; however, you must demonstrate that the armrest can go down. We have to consider your safety and comfort if you require an extra seat as well as that of your family member, particularly in the event of an emergency.

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has confirmed that airlines are not required by law to provide additional seating or an upgrade if additional space is required for a passenger.

  • If that happens, you must be an active participant in preserving your extra seat. You can also ask a crew member for assistance.

  • If you buy a second seat on United or United Express®, you’re eligible to earn award miles equal to the number of base miles for the flight. Members aren’t entitled to Premier® qualifying earnings and associated Premier benefits on the extra ticket purchased. The miles earned for the extra ticket should appear in the Airline Activity section of your MileagePlus account with the description “Extra Seat Credit.” If you don’t automatically receive your mileage credit, you can request the missing miles by providing the ticket number for the extra seat using the MileagePlus contact form.

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