What is United's "Basic Economy" and is it for me?

Travelers are always looking to save a few bucks here and there, and oftentimes, the choice comes down to selecting cheaper airline tickets. We’ve recently written about the best low cost companies, which do a terrific job, but is there a way to fly with famous carriers for less money as well?

Basic Economy

A few months ago, United Airlines was involved in a scandal that shook the nation, and it’s definitely a shame that it happened, because it drew attention from their fantastic offering known as Basic Economy. Still, in this article, we will try to further explain this term and help you decide whether this option suits your needs. Let’s jump right into it.

In-flight experience remains top-notch

Like all other Main Cabin members, Basic Economy ticket holders will also have access to many free entertainment options, including WiFi, snacks and drinks. As expected, you’ll also get the same seats as other passengers do, for just a fraction of the price.

Seat selection

Because you’re getting a really great deal when it comes to ticket prices, there are some things you’ll have to accept. One of the major ones includes the lack of option to select your desired seat. Passengers who use Basic Economy package won’t be eligible for upgrades, nor will they have the option to switch seats upon boarding. This also includes Premier club members, who won’t be able to use their mileage upgrades as part of the package.

Additionally, in case you’re traveling with a family or a group, know that you won’t have an option to select seats that are next to each other. This can be especially important for individuals with small children, so please pay close attention to these rules.

You’ll have to pay additional fee for a full-sized bag

This is where all of those tips on traveling light might work in your favor. United Airlines has a strict policy when it comes to full-size carry-on bags for Basic Economy ticket holders you won’t be able to go around. Only MileagePlus Premier members as well as Star Alliance™ Gold members will have these perks available. The rest of us will have to settle for less, or pay additional $25 fee in regards to gate handling charge if your bags need to be checked at the gate, as well as a standard checked bag fee.

For those who think that a personal item will work just fine

Know that this option is included. This space is big enough to fit one personal item which is no more than 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches across. Naturally, most medical devices are allowed on board, including breast pumps as well.

It’s important to mention that overhead bin luggage is not allowed, and that only space you’re gonna get is below the seat in front of you. Still, arm yourself with patience, as many people don’t seem to understand this basic rule, which oftentimes leads to confrontations. We can only hope that travelers will get a hang of this rule as time goes on.

Tickets and boarding

As far as boarding goes, the Basic Economy passengers will be the last group to board inside the main cabin. Understandably, tickets are non-refundable and you won’t have the option to change them on the day of the flight, so make sure you clear you schedule in advance and plan ahead. In case of an emergency, you won’t be able to do much, so if you are an impulsive type of traveler, be warned.

What about those award miles?

If you think that just because you bought an ultra-affordable ticket you won’t be able to achieve award miles, you’re mistaken, my friend. All joking aside, MileagePlus members qualify for award miles, just like all other Economy ticket holders. Furthermore, while Premier members will still receive most of the restrictions, they’ll have some perks in regards to boarding and allowed luggage size. Sounds like too sweet of a deal to miss!

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