United Airlines’ Awesome New Seat Alert Feature

United Airlines’ Awesome New Seat Alert Feature

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United Airlines deserves credit for having by far the best customer-facing tech of any US airline, especially when it comes to the mobile app. It’s materially better than Delta’s, and in a completely different league than American’s. Along those lines, United is now rolling out yet another awesome app feature, which passengers will no doubt appreciate.

United’s new seat change notification feature

Zach Griff reports on how United is rolling out a new seat alert feature. This is debuting for select customers as of today (Friday, March 22, 2024), but should be available for all passengers in the coming months.

I think we’ve all been in a situation where we book a flight, but no good seats are available (or maybe just our preferred seats aren’t available). With United’s new seat notification feature, you can be moved to a better seat if it opens up:

  • When booking or managing a flight in the mobile app and viewing the seat map, you’ll be able to request to move to your desired seat, should it become available
  • For example, you could request to be moved to an aisle or window seat, or to a bulkhead or exit row seat; United will then keep monitoring up until 12 hours before departure
  • If your specified seat becomes available, you’ll automatically be moved to it, and you’ll be sent a push notification about this happening
United has a new seat change feature

This is great new tech from United!

Currently there are some paid services like ExpertFlyer that let you set seat alerts, but an airline not only letting you set an alert, but automatically moving you to a better seat, is a first. This is such a customer friendly move, and it’s no doubt a win-win.

I imagine all of this investment in app tech is intended to increase downloads of the United mobile app, and in turn, the airline can better market to customers who have the app. It’s no different than what United is trying to do with MileagePlus — by not having miles expire, and by now letting members pool miles, the goal is to get people more engaged in the program.

Loyalty programs have long been lucrative for airlines, but the “big three” US carriers are hoping for significant growth in that area in the coming years. They’ve largely probably maxed out their potential among frequent flyers, so at this point the goal is to engage the less frequent travelers in the programs, and hopefully get them onto the “hamster wheel.”

I appreciate United’s tech investments

Bottom line

United Airlines’ mobile app is introducing a new seat change feature, whereby you can be moved to your preferred seat if it opens up. You can make this request either at the time of booking or while managing your reservation. This is a first of its kind feature from an airline, so I’m delighted to see this.

Now, I suppose some of us savvy frequent flyers may not love this, if we otherwise used paid services to find these kinds of seats, since there will now be more competition for them. But still, on balance this is very positive.

What do you make of United’s new seat notification feature?

Conversations (34)
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  1. Ricky Guest

    First class is just barely better that coach was 40 years ago. Meals, a slightly wider seat, the only difference tbh was free drinks.

  2. stewy Guest

    Correct me if I'm wrong. So United customers will be able to switch seats if they are available..of course contingent of what they paid and/or status. Correct? They can't do that now? Sorry, at AA, you can change your seat any time if it's available. Are you saying they will alert you if a seat you desire comes open? If so, that's cool, but HARDLY lightyears.

  3. ecco Gold

    Wow can’t believe the negative comments. This is a phenomenal improvement for United flyers. Wonder how they will deal with the chargeable seats. I guess they will just charge your credit card.

    United has very good IT. That’s why everyone is searching for star alliance awards on it.

  4. Justinfr Guest

    Who the hell wants to fly United, operating Boeing casket airlines! AVOID BOIGN AND UNITED

    1. PublicFlying Guest

      Such an over the top reaction. Delta, American, Southwest all fly Boeings and just because you hear United more on the news doesn’t mean the other airlines don’t have issues

    2. Ricky Guest

      When you grow up and can comment as an adult, then feel free to speak. Your comment is childish, uninformed, and clearly uneducated.

  5. Nick Guest

    This will absolutely become monetized in a decade. "Oh, looks like seat 12F is in high demand! Bid some $$ to guarantee you get this seat if it opens up." Or maybe on Spirit airlines "Looks like seat 7A is taken. Pay $88 to boot them from the seat and secure for yourself? Pay an extra $100 to prevent someone else from booting you and lock that seat in".

  6. Parnel Member

    United APP is light years ahead of Delta, and AA is useless!
    But really? Ugh this hurts experts from grabbing the seats.

  7. Redacted Guest

    I adamantly disagree that United has a superior app to Delta. Sure, maybe for specific things *you* care about, Ben, but from a general user interface perspective the United app is trash. Advertisements everywhere and silly UI interaction elements that make navigation tedious.

    Delta’s simple tab layout works fine, and Delta’s iOS iMessage integration makes customer service interactions delightfully simple.

    But sure, let’s keep taking cheap shots as Delta because everyone here loves...

    I adamantly disagree that United has a superior app to Delta. Sure, maybe for specific things *you* care about, Ben, but from a general user interface perspective the United app is trash. Advertisements everywhere and silly UI interaction elements that make navigation tedious.

    Delta’s simple tab layout works fine, and Delta’s iOS iMessage integration makes customer service interactions delightfully simple.

    But sure, let’s keep taking cheap shots as Delta because everyone here loves that apparently.

    1. Jay Guest

      As someone who flies on both, I objectively agree that United has the superior phone app. Much easier to navigate, and the ads you claim to be everywhere are on on the home page or bottom of the screen, not interfering with actual app navigation.
      Disagree all you want, but to call it "trash" is completely incorrect.

    2. Redacted Guest

      Okay I won’t call it trash, but easier to navigate is a stretch. Delta’s app is simple yet effective.

  8. Ben Guest

    That means I can request a seat that doesn’t have a door that pops off at 15,000 feet?

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      That's only an option on Alaska.

    2. Jake Guest

      No that's only an option on a Boeing plane.
      On Airbus you would have to bribe an airline mechanic to rig it special for you.

  9. Macau RIGGER Guest

    United is still terrible, lipstick on a pig.

    Their maintenance on aircraft ability is insanely bad 9 issues this year lack of customer service. The United CEO flys on privet jet because he has no trust in onTime arrivals or maintenance of United flights.

    1. Watson Diamond

      Lol every major CEO flies private.

  10. Bob T Guest

    If more than one customer is requesting a specific seat (which I suspect will almost always be the case) I wonder what criteria UA will use to determine who gets it.

    1. Watson Diamond

      I would assume they'd reuse the upgrade priority rules (ignoring ones that don't apply).

    2. RF Diamond

      You get a in-app notification and have to complete a Sudoku puzzle. The fastest time wins the seat.

  11. L harris Guest

    Not exactly accurate… one can currently state your preference for aisle or window in your Mp account.

    1. henare Diamond

      not at all the same thing. one is a preference for potential purchases, and the other is for a situation in the now. the seat you may choose now doesn't have to match the preference specified in the profile.

  12. Tony N Guest

    The hamster wheel? Or the cattle round up.

    1. Ricport Guest

      He's not writing about Southwest.

  13. rjb Guest

    If only the wifi would work consistently....

  14. Tony Guest

    This is really about UA collecting data so it can price seats in a way that more people would pay for them.

    1. Kyle Guest

      Don't they already have that data from requiring payment for certain seats for years?

    2. Tony Guest

      The data they currently have aren't sufficiently granular. They have no takers for many seats they tried to upsell, because they lack the ability to target individually and price seats in a way that passengers would be more willing to pay for them.

  15. Justin Guest

    The people that ‘lose’ are those of us who know how to make seat alerts already.

  16. Izz Guest

    Personally not a fan of this enhancement. This will make it really easy for those desired seats to be snatched, and therefore harder for us experts to get those seats.

    1. Alec Member

      My thoughts too. Could almost always count on getting out of my middle seat by being smart with the app. Now it’s gonna be a game of whose got the fastest fingers and internet connection

    2. Frog Guest

      Agreed. Sometimes, making things too easy penalises those who are willing to make an effort…

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      making things too easy penalises those who are willing to make an effort…

      Not sure I've ever seen "Boomer Mentality" summed up so succinctly.

    4. Frequent Flyer not Frequent Buyer Guest

      Dumbest reply I've ever seen. Not sure I've ever seen Millennial Mentality summed up so succinctly.

    5. yiannis93117 Guest

      Awwwww you poor things. Yeah those seats are just especially for you. Get over it! They should be available to all, greedy!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Tony Guest

This is really about UA collecting data so it can price seats in a way that more people would pay for them.

3
ConcordeBoy Diamond

<b><blockquote>making things too easy penalises those who are willing to make an effort…</blockquote></b> Not sure I've ever seen "Boomer Mentality" summed up so succinctly.

2
Kyle Guest

Don't they already have that data from requiring payment for certain seats for years?

2
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