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United Airlines

United Basic Economy Expands to 100 Markets

United Basic Economy Expands to 100 Markets
Joe Cortez

After no-extras rollout began in targeted markets, more areas have low-cost options.

Flyers in approximately 100 markets will soon have access to United Airlines’ basic economy fares, after the carrier elected to quietly roll out the no-extra options. Chicago Business First reports the new fares will be available for booking for flights departing on May 9, 2017.

According to a spokesperson for the Chicago carrier, the decision to add additional flights came shortly after passengers began flying on the Basic Economy fares earlier in April. Because there were no major issues for those on the restricted fares, the airline opted to expand the program. After May 9, passengers traveling within the continental United States will have full access to Basic Economy, but flights to Hawaii will still be excluded.

However, Chicago Business First speculates that the quiet rollout could also be a corporate maneuver to keep passengers aboard United flights after a month of bad publicity. In April alone, United was implicated in the forceful removal of a passenger aboard United Flight 3411, followed by additional accusations of passengers being downgraded from premium cabins to economy without reason or refund.

The Basic Economy fares offer low prices to domestic destinations, albeit with increased restrictions. The fares only allow one carry-on bag per flyer, no selection of seats prior to departure and no free upgrades based on status. In addition, flyers do not earn United MileagePlus Premier credits, nor do they earn lifetime credit miles.

United also noted the airline would roll out additional Basic Economy routes in the future, including those to Latin America and the Caribbean. Other international markets, like Asia and Europe, are not currently under consideration.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (7)


  1. jjmoore

    April 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    This basic economy roll-out is NOT to provide a cheap option, but to implement a disguised fare hike across the board. These basic economy fares, for the most part, do not compete with ultra-low-cost carriers. They simply create an incentive for most passengers to pay a slightly higher fare to retain the basic privileges (seat selection, award mileage accrual, and qualifying mileage accrual). This is pretty obvious after doing some thorough investigation across many domestic routes.

  2. KennyBSAT

    April 26, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    ‘Low prices’ meaning, of course, prices identical to regular economy before economy-minus was introduced.

  3. respawn

    April 27, 2017 at 5:15 am

    I don’t know anybody who purposely books these sorts of no-frills tickets. Instead what I’ve usually seen happen is somebody books the lowest fare, either because they are cost conscious or because their business has a restrictive travel policy. Then the passenger is miserable when they realize that they are in a middle seat in the back of the plane, can’t change their seat, etc. At least, that’s what I’ve seen from a few people on these types of tickets. I hope United is ready for more complaints!

  4. cosflyer

    April 28, 2017 at 5:30 am

    remember delta rolled this out first….american is following united and we have not heard to many complain about what delta started to alledegedly compete against the frontiers and spirits. booking a basic economy seat or what ever delta calls it reminds me 15 yrs ago flying ryanair….read everything before you click on buy…after that you have screwed yourself if you deviate from anything that was not spelled out when you search….

  5. PDX Duck

    April 28, 2017 at 6:40 am

    United will quickly find out that “Basic Economy” will result in lower customer satisfaction scores, which will just be another black eye for the carrier. The most recent customer satisfaction survey ranked Spirit Airlines dead last among US carriers. Even with Spirit being a known ultra-low cost carrier, where you have to pay extra for everything, customers still complain about it. I predict the same thing will happen with Basic Economy passengers.

  6. jeffhacker

    April 28, 2017 at 11:11 am

    I agree with everybody’s comments here. I don’t know how long it will last. Years ago, the airlines tried a “Economy” service between Hawaii and the mainland for a few dollars less than regular “Coach” – main difference back then was no meals (although you could buy a snack). Seat selection at the gate. It lasted about a year before they dropped it. 95% of passengers were buying regular coach. I fly on business almost weekly, usually in coach. There is no way in H*ll that I’d buy Basic.

  7. am1108

    April 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    As cosflyer said: “Delta rolled this out first” — I believe that these Basic Economy fares are here to stay. The mere fact that United and American are following Deltas lead on this (which Delta has had BE fares for 2+ years) shows that people do bite for these fares. I truly DO NOT understand how people think Basic Economy fares will go away or even eventually disappear. In fact I think (thanks to Norwegian Air and WOW) that these fares will be expanded internationally and will become the norm.

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