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United Makes Changes to Basic Economy Fares

United lost a ton of money after implementing Basic Economy fares. Now, in an effort to recoup that loss, the airline is getting ready to introduce paid perks for travelers with a Basic Economy ticket, and is also expecting to expand the section.

United Airlines’ handling of the rollout of its Basic Economy fares was an exercise in how not to do it – the airline had the most restrictive policies and ended up losing about $100 million after the implementation. Essentially, United’s Basic Economy seats don’t allow you to bring a full-size carry-on bag, don’t allow you to upgrade or change anything, don’t let you pick seats in advance and don’t even let you check in online.

Instead of customers deciding they still wanted to fly United and opt for a more expensive fare, customers decided that they would fly a different airline altogether, and United’s profits tanked. Part of the issue was that United seemed to try to force a Basic Economy fare on everyone. “They began their efforts intentionally offering basic economy to every customer every time,” Gary Leff wrote for Boarding Area. “A full fare customer would get offered an $800 basic economy fare, asking them to spend an extra $20 for a seat.”

As a result, United has moved to change the way it deals with Basic Economy fares. Moving forward, the airline will allow those travelers to purchase specific seats and buy upgrades – though to which fare classes has not yet been revealed. In addition, United will stop pushing Basic Economy fares on higher-fare buckets, instead only offering them to the bottom five, and the section will be expanded to other flights, including the Denver to Hawaii route and some international routes.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
AONwheels March 24, 2018

Interesting! Certainly a lot of people seemed to get confused and "stuck" in the basic economy option so encouraging folks to move up to standard economy and the old perks must not have been effective at all. Wow - way to go!

beyond February 22, 2018

It rebooks everything to N after verifying the corresponding alternative fare bucket is available. But unlike DL, there is no consistency on pricing, i.e. in one market Basic Economy can be $99, and the lowest "regular" would be $299. In others, it is a marginal difference. Whereas with Delta, it's consistent that you can rebook to the lowest fare for a fairly consistent/small difference. AA is only available as Basic Economy when the lowest fare is available, and they too are wildly different about the differentials.

walukanis February 22, 2018

It is the most useless fare ever. With all those restrictions the price difference is rarely more than $20. Why would I want to deal with it for that little difference. If price difference was say 25% of the price then I could consider it.

am1108 January 25, 2018

I thought UA Basic Economy had only one fare bucket? "N"....