Are these the hardest seats to get on United?

Elusive UA Seats

This is the seat plan for my United flight from Newark to LA tomorrow. United typically operate 2 class 757 services between Newark and LA with flat beds in BusinessFirst. But, once per day they operate a three class international 777 on the route. This includes a Global First cabin.

During booking you will see the United Global First seats are unavailable or ‘Sold Out’.

However, about three days before the flight the cabin opens. Except, you cannot book in to it.

I tried yesterday, calling the reservations line, and the agent spent 20 minutes trying to get a seat for me to upgrade to released. No joy. I was happy to part with some United miles – let’s be fair they don’t have much value any more – and a co-pay.

Yes, that’s right – United turned down my cash!

I suspect that when I board tomorrow the Global First Cabin will be full of United employees. After all, it’s not nicknamed ‘Employee Class’ for nothing. I shall report back after it’s all over. Looking back on previous days the flight almost always goes out full.

So I think these are probably the most elusive seats on United.


  1. United rep clearly mentioned this issue on FT almost half year ago. “In the Global First cabin, we will offering BusinessFirst onboard service and have adjusted first class inventory to zero. BusinessFirst customers will not be able to select seats in the Global First cabin. Instead, we will be proactively upgrading select customers into those seats in advance of departure, with our compliments, and will not collect any upgrade instruments or require additional miles/co-pay.”
    So not sure what you are talking about, just for website traffic?

  2. @David = this is my first trip on United in over 2 years so I am afraid I don’t read the United Board in FT anymore.
    Glad there is an explanation – let’s see who those ‘select customers’ are, shall we?

  3. Earlier this summer I was able to book an award ticket on B777 Global First, but it was LAX-IAD. So maybe it’s really YMMV?

  4. Not hard to get. I’ve gotten these twice. You need to pay full fare BizFirst and be United GS. You can’t call but rather they manually review the passenger list a couple days before departure and upgrade the high fare class + status members. On the EWR-SFO or EWR-LAX flights these are going to be GS + full fare.

  5. No need to automatically assume the worst. This is basically another aspect of the “surprise and delight program” at UA where, when 3 cabin aircraft are sometimes used on domestic routes, UA keeps that inventory at 0 and manually surprises high value flyers with upgrades into GF.

  6. Those seats are reserved for Global Services and 1K customers. The reason they don’t sell it as Global first because they operate it as Business product but with better seat. About 7-3 days prior to departure they will send upgrade notification to Global Services and 1Ks that booked in paid business. I have had this seat once. With the upgrade notification they send a disclaimer that it is still business class service just enjoy better seat for your convenience.

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