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United’s Basic Economy fares were already reality on select routes out of Minneapolis, but they seem to have now spread this morning without any corresponding announcement from United. I mean, why not slip that in under the radar with all the leggingsgate and bumpgate insanity?!
While doing some flight searches today from Houston to Orlando I found Basic Economy tickets for sale for flights beginning May 9, 2017. I then conducted more searches and found this to be the case on many routes including from Houston to Newark and Seattle, but not to Wichita, Cancun, or between the non-hub routes I personally checked.
Please don’t believe the narrative that these Basic Economy fares can save you money by letting you “not pay extra” things like assigned seats, a full size carry-on, etc. when you don’t need them. You are simply now paying $15 – $40 more each direction per person to get the things you were already getting like the right to earn miles, bring a full sized carry-on, and have a seat assigned with your family or friends at the time of purchase.
As an example, United wants $187 for an early morning flight from Houston – Newark on May 7th before the Basic Economy fares impact that route.
Then, just a few days later on May 10th when Basic Economy fares are live for this route, they still want $187 for the cheapest early morning flights, but now you have to pay $20 more than the $187 starting price to avoid the Basic Economy fare and associated restrictions.
Families that need seats together should not book Basic Economy fares, but sadly that means paying more for the right to fly United.
The Basic Economy fare is very clearly outlined when you go to select a flight on United.com, and in fact on the next screen the pop-up defaults to the Basic Economy fare not being selected, even if you selected it on the first screen.
I wrote about United’s Basic Economy rules in more depth here, but since the fares are now live and for sale on a variety of routes, here is a refresher of what you do and don’t get when you purchase Basic Economy according to United.
- Seats are assigned prior to boarding, and customers traveling together, including families, will not be able to sit together. You will also not be eligible to purchase Economy Plus seating or premium cabin upgrades, or receive Economy Plus subscription benefits. With standard Economy, customers traveling together can choose seats together if open seats are available.
- You’re allowed a small personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag or other small item, 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less. Mobility aids and other assistive devices are also permitted. You’re not allowed a full-sized carry-on bag unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or Star Alliance™ Gold member. If you bring a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate, your bag will be subject to the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge.
- Ticket changes are not allowed. This includes advanced changes and same-day changes, even for Premier members. Fares are nonrefundable.
Do you plan to book these new Basic Economy fares from United? What would the price differential have to be for you to forgo things like earning miles, having assigned seats, etc?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.