United Airlines

Comprehensive Review of the United Premium Plus Seat

Comprehensive review of United's Premium Plus seats features two window side seats with purple color leather, wide armrests, and seatbelts neatly folded.

This is a comprehensive review of United Airlines’ Premium Plus Seats which I have been a big fan of since its inception. I have flown in this class of service many times and am very familiar with all aspects of this class of service. One significant upgrade from regular economy is indeed in the seat itself. Today, I am going to share with you every single feature and detail of UA’s purple seats — as they are referred to by crew and flight attendants.

Table of Contents

What is United’s Premium Plus

Purple color United Premium Plus seats 22K and 22L on the right side of the plane, with the seatbelts neatly folder.

Premium Plus is united Airlines’ version of Premium Economy class which is a step up from regular economy but is still miles away from Polaris, UA’s international Business Class. This class of service is installed on the airline’s Boeing 767, 777, and 787 widebody aircrafts. As of this writing, PP is only available on the following routes:

  • Transpacific
  • Transatlantic
  • Transcontinental (LAX/SFO – EWR/JFK)
  • Hawaiian flights (except to and from the West Coast)

Some of the perks include priority check-in, security line, and luggage handling, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and upgraded dining.

This article focuses on the seat itself. Go here for a comprehensive review of the entire flight’s experience.

Cabin Configuration

United’s Premium Plus is located between Polaris and regular economy. The airline does a very good job in making it look and feel like a separate cabin, although technically, this is still economy class. There is a partition between the last row of PP and the first row of Economy Plus (regular economy with extra legroom) but there is no curtain.

The configurations and the number of rows of UA’s purple seats, where available, are summarized in the following table:

A table showing the Premium Plus configurations in various aircrafts.

Couples will love the 767’s 2-2-2 configurations. My wife and I always choose the middle section whenever possible so that we’ll each have easy access to the aisle. For the 777 and 787, couples who book early and secure one of the window side pairs also enjoy the extra private space and comfort.

Dimensions and Measurements

United’s Premium Plus seats are wide enough that most people can fit in comfortably. In most instances, if you are next to a stranger, your space is wide enough that you probably won’t be rubbing elbows with the other person. Bulkhead offers almost unlimited legroom and personal space in front of you.

For comparison purposes, the table below shows the width, pitch, and recline of a non-bulkhead seat on a Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

To put the above dimensions into more context, a non-bulkhead domestic first-class seat on a Boeing 737-900 aircraft has width/pitch/recline = 20”/37”/5”.


A pair of purple seats on the window side is stocked with a pile of pillows, blankets, slippers, a pouch for an amenity kit and a headset in plastic wraps.

For most long haul transpacific or transatlantic flights, a pile of goodies awaits you when you board the plane. You’ll have a good quality pillow that is much larger and slightly firmer than those in standard economy. Saks Fifth Avenue blankets, same as those in business class upfront, will be there to keep you warm throughout your journey. The slippers provided are also top quality and are the same as those in the Polaris cabin. The quality of these slippers is so good that they are good for multiple uses. Sometimes I pack them in the original plastic bag and use them for my connecting flights.

Your United Premium Plus seat also comes with an amenity kit which provides adequate toiletries for your convenience during your overnight stay 36,000 feet up in the air. Last but not least, you’ll also find a pair of noise cancelling headsets for the entertainment system. They will be your good companion during your long journey across the oceans.

Power Outlet and Headphone Jack

Armrest is flipped over to expose power outlet and headphone jacks, which are located next to the purple color seatback.

I often see passengers look all over the place for the power outlet or headphone jack and when I see that, I always offer my assistance. They are at the least obvious place – behind you and under the armrest as shown in the picture above.

The picture also shows you that the armrest can be opened. So instead of performing that yoga move of twisting your body and your neck to guide that wire in your fingertips to the outlet, simply flip open the armrest cover. That will make it a lot easier!

Although the location might not be intuitive, I really like the design and its placement. Firstly, unlike in a regular economy, you don’t have to bend down to look for the power outlet which is typically near your ankles. Secondly, you can place your phone on the armrest when you are charging it.

Moreover, having the wire of the headphones come from behind me makes perfect sense, so there is never a wire next to me or in front of me. There is also enough space to install two different types of jacks – the two-prong jack for the upgraded headphones and the single-prong 3.5mm jack for the regular earbuds.

Entertainment System

A close-up of the Premium Plus seatback with the seat number 22K shown on a purple screen, with ATVs in a desert in the background.

The seatback entertainment screen is much bigger than the ones in regular economy. On a 787-10 it is 13” in United’s Premium Plus versus 9” in regular economy.

On a transpacific or transatlantic flight, deluxe noise-reduction and stereo Hi-Fi headphones (with 2 prongs) are always provided. My experiences in Transcontinental flights are mixed. Sometimes I was given the upgraded headphones, but sometimes I was given the cheap one-prong earbuds usually provided in the regular economy cabin.

A remote control for the entertainment system is provided and is located on the side panel. In the widebody aircrafts on international routes, these are the same remote controls as the ones in economy. To release it, press the release button and gently pull it out toward you. To return it to the bracket, pull the remote out until the wire is completely extended and then release gently as it slides back into place.

Coat Hanger

A coat hanger is located on the seatback ahead, to the right of the entertainment screen.

This might appear to be something very minor, but sometimes it is the subtle thoughtfulness that counts. Not only does it hold your jacket, but it can also hold your headset while not in use, as well as a light purse or makeup pouch.


This is my favorite part. With my seatback at maximum recline and the footrest at an optimal position, I can actually nap pretty well on a long-haul flight.

The footrest is adjustable. To reset it, tilt it all the way up with the top of your shoes. To set it, press it down with your shoes to your desired position. Then tilt it slightly up and then step on it again. To change its position, reset it by tilting it all the way up and repeating the process.

An aircraft passenger's feet are extended into the space under the seat in front of the passenger.

There is a misconception that I read from travel forums a lot that the footrest reduces your legroom because you cannot stretch your legs into the space under the seat in front of you. Some people also complain that the footrest takes away that same space that can be used for storage. The fact is – if you do not want to use the footrest, you can simply tilt it all the way up and it will completely free up that space for you. As you can see from the picture above, my feet are comfortably extended into the space in front of me.

Bulkhead Row

Bulkhead row of Premium Plus shows the 3 middle seats in the foreground and the 2 window side seats in the background.

Although the bulkhead row has lots of extra legroom, it is not my favorite row. But let me emphasize that this is just my personal preference, and you might actually like a it.

Another pro in addition to the extra legroom is that nobody reclines into your space. To me, this is the biggest advantage of the bulkhead row. Moreover, you also get served first, maximizing your chance of getting the entrée of your choice.

A person wearing blue jeans rests his legs and feet on the leg rest.

Personally, I don’t like the leg rests that are offered on the bulkhead rows. I sleep better with the footrest in the other rows. The leg rest, as you can see from the picture above, does not elevate high enough for it to be useful. I could not put myself in any position that is more comfortable than just leaving my feet on the floor.

A fully extended entertainment screen of a bulkhead row seat, displaying seat number 20C.

I am also not a fan of the bulkhead entertainment screen which has to be stowed before takeoff and during the final decent. That takes away a lot of my movie watching time. Moreover, the screen size is smaller than those in the other Premium Plus rows (approximately 11.5” vs 13”).

A fully extended entertainment screen of a bulkhead row aisle seat is shown to leave plenty of space for aisle access by the window seat passenger.

One good design of the entertainment screen on the Boeing 787 PP cabin, however, is that it is rather compact, and the arm does not reach too far out. This leaves enough space so that most passengers of average size in the window or middle seat can access the aisle even with the aisle passenger’s screen fully extended.


United’s Premium Plus seat certainly offers a lot more space and comfort than the regular economy product. Moreover, I feel that there is a lot of subtle thoughtfulness in its design. I’ve flown in it many times on flights that are over 10 hours long and I have slept quite comfortably for a few hours at a time.

If you are willing to spend a bit more than economy class on a long-haul flight but are not prepared to splurge thousands of dollars for a Polaris Business Class lie flat, I think that United’s Premium Plus is a good middle ground, as well as the best bang for the buck. For a recent review of the entire in-flight experience, including amenities and meal services, please visit:

SFO – AMS 777-300ER

SFO – HKG – SFO 777-300ER

If you are interested in Polaris Business Class, go here for a comprehensive review.

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