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United Airlines to Budget Travelers: Stay in the Back of the Plane

Flying just became a little harder for budget travelers. United Airlines says it will start charging economy passengers an extra fee if they want to reserve seats near the front of plane.

United already offers premium seats with extra legroom and other passenger perks in its Economy Plus section. But the new “preferred” fees that United plans to introduce later this year concern regular old economy seats, located behind the Economy Plus section, USA Today reported. Their only advantage is passengers don’t have to wait so long to disembark.

In an era when online-travel services like Orbitz and Travelocity make it easy for budget-minded travelers to search for the cheapest airfares, airlines have introduced more and more fees for luggage, leg room, meals, and other benefits once taken for granted on flights.

Delta and American have introduced similar fees for economy seats near the front of their planes. United says economy passengers who don’t want to pay the new fee can still sit in the forward seats if any remain available during check in.

United drew an outcry of criticism last year when airport security officials forcibly dragged a passenger off an overbooked United flight. The airline also put several dogs on incorrect flights and was blamed for the death of a puppy that an attendant made a passenger stow in an overhead bin.