United Basic Economy–The New United Fare

So some of you may have heard the recent buzz revolving around United’s new “Basic Economy” fare; others may have not.  To summarize, United has released a new fare called the “Basic Economy” fare.  Now before you go and get too excited about the lower flight prices, it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into when making this “economical” purchase.  I have broken down below the features and restrictions of this new fare in order to help you properly assess if this new class is for you.

  1.   Seats.  When purchasing a flight from this distinct category, you revoke your privilege to choose your seat, as you normally would be allowed to do with the “Economy” fare.   Not only that, but you will not be given the opportunity to pay for an upgrade…say for example, a seat upgrade to Economy Plus.  Also, your status essentially means nothing when it comes to your seat.  If you have status with United and are accustomed to acquiring your complimentary seat upgrade, just give up the ghost here as you will not be receiving that perk with this type of ticket.  Additionally, even if you booked with family members on the same reservation, you should not expect to necessarily be seated with them as clearly stated on United’s website.
  2.   Luggage.  With the purchase of this particular type of airfare, full-sized carry-on bags are not allowed, UNLESS you have Premier status with United.  If you do not have status, you will only be permitted to bring a personal item (9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches) on board.  You cannot even pay an extra fee to bring a carry-on onto the plane, and you will be required to check the baggage, which will ultimately incur a fee.  And if you try to bring a carry-on on board the plane with this type of ticket and do not possess status, you will be obligated to check your bag at the gate, which can also potentially result in an additional charge for the inconvenience.
  3.   Flight Changes.  Once you are out of the 24-hour booking window (approximately one day after purchasing your flight), do not expect to be able to make any changes.  As explained in bold on United’s website, flight changes and refunds are not allowed when buying this type of ticket.
  4.   Boarding Group.  And last but not least, the boarding group.  Unless you have status with United, you should anticipate boarding the plane in the very last boarding group.

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