United Airlines is joining their fellow legacy carriers in offering basic economy fares on select routes to Europe. The Chicago-based carrier quietly rolled out the deep discounted fares in the beginning of June, with some routes up to $90 lower than standard economy fares.
United Airlines is the last of the three major American airlines to offer customers a cheaper way to get to Europe. The Chicago Tribune reports international basic economy fares quietly went on sale at the beginning of June 2018, offering a nominal discount in exchange for less benefits.
The lower-cost seats are currently limited to trans-Atlantic routes, with an average discount of around $90 per round trip. The discount is better than those offered by Delta Air Lines, which offer basic economy discounts ranging from $17 to $90, based on the origin and destination.
As with all basic economy seats, United’s discounts come with tight restrictions. Flyers won’t earn United MileagePlus miles for their trip, can’t use any type of upgrade to move to Economy Plus (including Global Premier Upgrades) and can’t select their seat at purchase. In addition, basic economy flyers are not entitled to one free checked bag. Although most must pay the $60 fee each way for a checked bag, some MileagePlus elite flyers and United credit card holders are exempt from the restriction.
The move for all three carriers comes as low-cost airlines offer deep discounts on European routes. WOW Air is expanding their service to new markets across the United States, including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. In addition, the airline is rumored to be considering flights to Asia.
Are the discounted fares worth sacrificing the free checked bag? Because paying for a checked bag will add $120 to your round trip, paying the extra money for a regular economy fare may be the frugal move. The new fares will be marketed as “economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed).”