At the start of the week I flew back from Washington DC to Heathrow with United. I checked in on-line 24 hours before the flight and was offered and upgrade to Economy Plus for $89.00. Great I thought not a bad price for a night flight to get a bit more leg room. So I said 'yes' and selected seats 15C and D for my colleague (near the bulkhead and by the overwing doors, so lots of leg room). On the next page I went to pay for them... but... the site would only let me pay with a credit or debit card that has a billing address in the USA or Canada..AH! OK. I don't have that being a UK citizen. Annoying the site does not say that before I got to that page! Anyway, I rung United and they said that was the case -- only USA billing address cards can be used. If I wanted to upgrade to First Class I could pay on my card, but not for any other class's! To cut a long story short an American friend paid for the upgrade on his USA billing address card and I gave him cash out of a cash dispenser. Of course by the time I got back on the site 15 C and D had gone, but I got 18 F and G, not as good but still in Economy Plus. I guess this restriction is some kind of fraud prevention or similar, but does anybody actually know the reason for this, on the face of it, silly restriction that actually stops people paying the airline more money? It was all most frustrating and I wasted several hours trying to sort it. I spoke to an American friend about this and he said he had the exact same issue with British Airways when flying back from the UK to the US and the only way he could sort it was to ring up BA in the USA and pay for it that way, but in my case the United reps did not tell me I could ring up United in the UK and pay for it that way, and besides they told me the 'instant upgrade offers' only appear on the site so probably a phone call to the UK would not have worked.
Anybody know the actually reason for this 'anomaly'?