United New Basic Economy Fares

Who does the NEW United Basic Economy Fares Benefit?

Basic Economy Fares

Basic Economy Fares

United recently announced they will be offering Basic Economy Fares. While lower fares usually means less services or benefits sometimes the lower rates can mean a better deal. This will depend on the type of traveler you are. For me, I personally don’t really need a meal unless I’m traveling long distance international. I’d take a savings and be willing to lose the meal if the savings was big enough. Some features, however I value more and would not like to lose pending the drop in fare. Below we’ll look at some of the features of the New United Basic Economy Fares.

In United’s release of this NEW Fare, United claims “Customers will enjoy the same United Economy® cabin experience and services, including dining options, Wi-Fi and inflight entertainment. However, the following differences do apply”:

Basic United Economy Fares Core Features:

  • United Basic Economy Fares will assign seats at check-in. Passengers traveling in large or small groups will need to acknowledge that seating together is not guaranteed.
    (You cannot purchase an upgrade to extra leg-room or first class seats. United Elite Frequent Flier Members cannot purchase an upgrades as well. You will need to be good with a smaller seat and very possibly a middle seat!)
  • Passengers are limited to one personal item for their carry-on bag. This is true unless the customer is a MileagePlus® Premier® member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star AllianceTM Gold member. (The size on this small carry-on is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less. There will also be no option to even purchase the ability to carry-on an even larger bag)
  • There will be no voluntary ticket changes except as stated in the United 24-hour flexible booking policy. (You’ll need to be locked into your flights!)

Basic United Economy Fares Core Features:

  • MileagePlus program members will earn redeemable award miles; however they will not earn Premier qualifying credit. This refers to miles, segments, or dollars, no lifetime miles, and no contribution to four segment minimum. (It’s gonna take you a lot of flights to earn a free flight via the basic economy fare).
  • Customers will not be eligible for Economy Plus® or premium cabin upgrades. (You are locking yourself into the smaller seat. There will also be limitations on services you receive with a basic economy ticket purchase!)
  • Customers will board in the last boarding group (currently Group 5) unless they are a United Elite member. This means a MileagePlus Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance Gold member. (If you had the ability to bring on a bigger carryon this would mean something. Since your limited to smaller carryon bag only,  the fight for the overheads won’t be there. You’ll just put the small carryon under the seat in front of you.)
  • No combinability with regular Economy fares or partner carriers. Interline travel is not permitted. (You won’t be able to check any checked bags all the way through if you fly more than one carrier. You’ll have to pick-up in-between carrier flights your bags and recheck for your next flight adding hassle AND cost to checking a bag).
Basic Economy Fares

Basic Economy Fares

Basic Economy Fares Additional Information:

What markets will United Basic Economy Be Available:
+ Select markets which are subject to change. In the markets it is offered, you will see it designated in the flight search. You’ll be able to book the same way you book other United Tickets

What are the Basic Economy Fare Checked Baggage Policies:
+ Same as they are with Regular Economy Fares with the exception of the interline capabilities noted above.

What will be my Mileage Plus – Frequent Flyer Mile Accrual Benefits with Basic Economy?:
+ Same except you won’t earn Premier qualifying miles with a Basic Economy Ticket

What are my inflight benefits with a Basic Economy Ticket Purchase?
+ Same as Regular Economy Ticket with the exception concerning your not being able to bring on large carryon bags.

What are my United Travel Options with the Basic Economy Ticket?
+ When booking Basic Economy, you can still personalize your trip with many United Travel Options™ packages. Enjoy added convenience with Baggage Delivery and access to United ClubSM locations. You will also have the option of protecting your booking with FareLockSM or trip insurance. If you have an eligible itinerary, you can also buy more miles with the Award Accelerator® program. Premier AcceleratorSM miles will not be available.

So is the value of fewer benefits worth the cost?

Hard to say. It will depend on your trip and whether you can travel lighter and with less control over your experience.

If you are traveling up and back within a day or two and won’t be bringing a larger carryon depending on the fare the savings could be worth it.

If…you are ok with getting your seat assignment last minute and ok with a middle seat it might be worth it. Depending on the airfare difference of course. Are you ok with boarding last etc…again pending the fare difference it might be worth it.

Personally I like an aisle seat because I have long legs. On an ultra low-cost carrier like Allegiant I can purchase a seat assignment to insure I get a seat I like. I don’t see many situations where the United Basic Economy Fare would work for me. I’m typically a one carry-on bag traveler. I don’t like checking bags. Based on this, this wouldn’t work well for me. Since the upgrade cost is typically (But not always) +$60 I imagine on most trips, especially longer duration flights… I’ll purchase regular economy.

Will United be using the basic economy fare as as a tool to yield up (Charge More) for the economy ticket I’m used to buying on United? Yes

Coming in the future: A post comparing basic and regular economy fares on all the major US carriers so that Tucson Flyers can make an educated flight ticket decision.

More on the United Basic Economy Fare Here