We took little note when Sabre said the other week that it had signed a new deal with United that extends their agreement from its 2011 expiration until 2013...perhaps too little. United said just the other day that the pact with Sabre would include a way to start selling coach-class passengers up into its Economy Plus seats through travel agents who use Sabre, starting in the spring. This makes United one of the very first big carriers to announce that it's taking advantage of new merchandising abilities that the GDSs are rolling out. Until now, United has sold Economy Plus through its own website, letting regular coach passengers buy these better seats when they book a flight on-line. Now the airline can sell up through another channel and reach a wider audience.
As a footnote, members of the elite levels of United's Mileage Plus frequent-flyer plan automatically get these better seats, which have more legroom.
The move follows a deal between Sabre and Midwest Airlines to let travel agents sell the Milwaukee-based carrier's bigger better premium 'Signature Seats' on line.