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United's Basic Economy - Discussion, Q&A, ... {Archive}

United's Basic Economy - Discussion, Q&A, ... {Archive}

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Old Feb 9, 19, 9:19 am   -   Wikipost
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This is an archive thread -- the active thread is United's Basic Economy - Discussion, Q&A, ...

Important Note: these fares became available 21 Feb 2017 for MSP for travel beginning 18 Apr 2017. More markets were added 19 April 2017 for travel starting 9 May 2017.

Related thread: Basic Economy Airport and Plane Experiences (First or Second Hand)

If you booked before the dates above, you did not have a BE fare. If purchased on united.com you will see a warning like:


4. MileagePlus members will earn full Premier qualifying dollars, 50% Premier qualifying miles and 0.5 Premier qualifying segments for each flight, as well as lifetime miles and toward the four-segment minimum.



Link to UA's description of how these fares will work: Basic Economy.

Here are the key facts:
  • No seat assignments until check-in. Seats will be assigned by the system and cannot be changed.
    *NEW* When purchasing a Basic Economy ticket, you will not receive a complimentary seat assignment but may be able to purchase advance seat assignments during booking and up until check-in opens. If you donít purchase an advance seat assignment, your seat will be automatically assigned to you prior to boarding, and you won't be able to change your seat once it's been assigned.
  • No guarantee of adjacent seats with companions
  • No voluntary ticket changes after 24 hour purchase period
  • Carry on limited to 1 personal item unless the customer is a MP Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance *G
  • Customers ineligible for carry-on who bring one to the gate will be charged a $25 convenience fee to gate-check in addition to standard baggage fees (source: @united twitter)
  • Customers will not be eligible for Economy Plus or premium cabin upgrades. This includes all forms of upgrades (CPU,supported or purchased). Likewise for E+ access (elite or purchased).
  • Customers will board in the last boarding group (currently Group 5) unless the customer is a MP Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance *G
  • Companions on same PNR will have same boarding group and carryon if one on the PNR has a waiver
  • No combinability with regular economy fares or partner carriers. Interline travel is not permitted.
  • Tickets will earn RDMs (based on fare and status), PQMs (50% of distance), PQSs (0.5), PQDs, in addition it will count for minimum 4 segment and lifetime miles (New as of Dec 2018)
  • Basic Economy tickets will use booking code 'N'
  • Online check-in only with paid checked bag, otherwise need to see a United representative to verify the onboard bag allowance and receive a boarding pass.
In air, passengers will receive the same standard economy inflight amenities including United Economy dining options, inflight entertainment, United Wi-Fi (availability depending on the flight)

related threads
New UA/*A TATL -LGT Economy fare - no free first bag, no changes/upgrades allowed

Benefit impact of restricted economy fares on UA Elites (Basic Econ, -LGT, Light Econ

Pre-announcement speculation thread (now closed) New "Budget Economy" fares
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Old May 8, 17, 12:49 pm
  #1546  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Heh, now I'm curious. If you book an N fare do you get the post-purchase F upgrade offer? Do you get PQD? N fares are 24-hours cancellable, right?
This is where UA differs from Delta, per UA you get no benifits and no status credit for BE flights. per UA:

MileagePlus and Premier member details

If you're a MileagePlus member, you will still earn award miles based on the fare and your MileagePlus status.

However, MileagePlus members, including Premier members, will not earn:

Premier qualifying dollars (PQD)
Premier qualifying miles (PQM)
Premier qualifying segments (PQS)
Lifetime miles
Toward the four-segment minimum

MileagePlus members, including Premier members, will not receive:

Complimentary Economy Plus seating
Paid upgrades
Mileage upgrades
Complimentary Premier Upgrades
Regional Premier Upgrades
Global Premier Upgrades


Originally Posted by findark View Post
I'm really curious how this is going to go over in the SFO/LAX market. It's a pretty unique market where there is a lot of O&D traffic compared to other short-ish hops, and a lot of competition has kept fares low. I've watched the "base sale price" of a ticket tick up from $39 to $49 to $59 over the years (and still remember when it was $9 on WN).

The $15 fare increase effected by BE is actually very large for the market, and so I am curious to see whether it ends up being sustainable even against WN.
I would expect this to really hurt them on the west coast routes. United is now $15+/each way more expensive than the competition (AS/VX, DL, AA, WN) and also is rubbing people's face in it.

While Delta may match UA head to head (by opening up high buckets to BE) - although I doubt it - no way they do so on the West Coast where they also have to consider OALs, in particular AS/VX. United is out on its own "knife our elites" limb...
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Old May 8, 17, 1:03 pm
  #1547  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
This is where UA differs from Delta, per UA you get no benifits and no status credit for BE flights.
Yeah, I meant "did they manage their IT to stop offering the upgrade popup to N fares" and "if not, and you accept the offer, what class does it rebook into and what do you earn?". With UA IT, you never know
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Old May 8, 17, 3:16 pm
  #1548  
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
While how stupid the N class might be is indeed irrelevant. How UA has jacked up the previous lowest fare to a higher level and substituted a fare with virtually no benefits is very relevant. It's another devaluation, this time targeted at the actual fare instead of at Mileage Plus.
Originally Posted by BaltimoreZ71 View Post
But I believe his point is that N Class is not about saving money but rather a way for United to mask a fare increase for regular economy while making it seem like they have introduced a lower fare for the same flights.
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
The way United has implemented this requires every single united elite flier to pay more with each trip to get elites benefits.
While what all of you have said may be true, there is no conclusive evidence that Basic Economy fare has impacted regular economy fares.
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Old May 8, 17, 10:50 pm
  #1549  
 
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
.... there is no conclusive evidence that Basic Economy fare has impacted regular economy fares.
Not true, it has been demonstrated multiple times on this thread alone.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 8, 17 at 11:19 pm Reason: unneeded comment deleted
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Old May 8, 17, 11:17 pm
  #1550  
 
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
While what all of you have said may be true, there is no conclusive evidence that Basic Economy fare has impacted regular economy fares.
You are missing the point entirely. While it has been shown multiple times that United just make the old Y an N, and now wants give or take $15 for each trip to avoid an N, from the points forward, as long as this remains in force, if you want your elite benifits, you will have to pay $15 (give or take) each way.

Let me give you two examples. Lets assume United cuts SFO-SEA from $219 to $204 for BE. If you want elite benifits, well you have to pay $15 more. Those benifits are now no longer free.

But the reality is that UA made the $219 a BE fare, and wants $234 now for Y. Again, your elite benifits will cost you an extra $15.

Elite status is now "pay as you go" on United, with an upcharge required to have that status recognized in nearly all Coach fares.

And let me give an example of a domestic 1K, with PQD of $20K, and 80 one ways (40 RTs) in a year. While they may have 1K status, it is of no use, no benefit to them, unless they pay an extra $15 for each o/w, or give United another $1200 for the privilege of using their elite benefits.

And the big catch is that unlike Delta, which is (with a few exceptions where ULCCs are in the market) doing this only on low fares that are bought ahead, United is doing this on the kind of fares that Business travelers get.

So I am gold on UA, basically any trip I want to take (e.g. I've looked in the last week at SFO-SEA-SFO x2, and SFO-ORD, and SFO-LAX) united wanted another approx $15 each way to use my Gold Status. Delta will just sell me a regular Y for the same price.

This is the biggest devaluation of elite benefits I have ever seen in 20 years of following the industry.

In contrast, looking at trips on DL (SFO-SEA-SFO x2, SFO-LAX) I am not only not seeing BE fares, but the regular DL fares are the same as UA is offering me.

So I can use my Delta status, but I have to pay more each time I want to use my UA status.
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Old May 9, 17, 6:54 am
  #1551  
 
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Hmm, I guess I am not following this thread very well. While I hope we all agree, the airlines are not in business to give away money nor has the pricing fluctuations has not been drastically different in decades (buy your tickets on 1 day vs another) it seems petty to think UA is different that all the other airlines. We find one that suits our needs and they are competing with airlines that are different with different expenses.

Why does Southwest offer 3 fare types when you virtually get nothing for it. I stand in line, I don't have a seat and based on the fare, I don't have the flexibility to change to a different flight on the same day for free or for a small fee? Sometimes, it is greater than the ticket originally bought. I don't get a larger seat, more leg room or anything worthy but pay a higher rate? Ok.

Competition allows them to supply offerings based on the consumer's willingness to pay. Is it OK for Spirit to charge for breathing the air on the plane, yet it doesn't seem to be demonized like the others. Delta & American both have restrictive Economy fares; we are not allowed to use for work because of the severe restrictions but they are playing the game that Southwest have brainwashed folks to believe is OK; no seat assignment, pay for early boarding(early stand in line) but some airlines allow to pay for earlier boarding and seat selection.

Quite frankly, the expectation that the price of a cross country ticket should be lower than 20 years ago doesn't single out the greediness of the airline but the unrealistic expectation of the consumer. Why don't we expect that and boycott the auto industry, the clothing industry or almost every other industry? It seems we are being led to focus on the wrong thing while the proverbial wool is being planted.
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Old May 9, 17, 7:53 am
  #1552  
 
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Originally Posted by nitab62 View Post
Hmm, I guess I am not following this thread very well. While I hope we all agree, the airlines are not in business to give away money nor has the pricing fluctuations has not been drastically different in decades (buy your tickets on 1 day vs another) it seems petty to think UA is different that all the other airlines. We find one that suits our needs and they are competing with airlines that are different with different expenses.
Most everyone here would agree UA has the right to run it's business and make money. They've implemented a price increase here. If this would have been a straight, transparent price increase, we all might wonder if it's a good idea competitively or not, but we wouldn't have a 100-page thread.

It's the fact that they've hidden the fare increase in this basic economy fare. They've increased prices at every fare level for a particular flight when BE is available, so it appears BE is a discount when really you're paying more to get the same benefits that used to be included at the BE fare price.

Again, if this had been another airline, there would probably be less noise. But for about 5 years after the UA/CO merger, the new CEO labeled every change that was bad for customers as a "change they would like". The new CEO was starting to turn that around and rebuild customer goodwill. Then comes another changed labeled as one we'd like, when in reality it took frequent customers about half a day to figure out this was just a veiled price increase.

And comparing to Spirit is difficult here. Spirit's whole brand and reputation is a no-frills, pay-as-you-go airline. I refuse to fly Spirit so I won't pretend to know how honest they are with their customers, but I do think people know what to expect there, as Spirit doesn't pretend to be something it's not.
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Old May 9, 17, 8:54 am
  #1553  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
This is the biggest devaluation of elite benefits I have ever seen in 20 years of following the industry.
Wow. Bigger than DL's addition of the MQD requirement? Bigger than DL's switch to spend-based earnings, and the resulting nosedive in earnings for people who fly on discount fares? Bigger than DL's removal of the award chart and deciding it'll just charge what it wants and you'll pay it? Bigger than DL's changes to elite access for C+?

Bigger than the elimination of CO Bronze? How about the CO Platinum flyer going from top-tier to third-tier status as part of the merger? Bigger than the introduction of co-pays on mileage upgrades for CO, at a time before they had upgrade certificates? How about the massive increase in the cost of first-class *A awards (using UA miles) a few years back?

I'm sure I can come up with more examples; those are just the ones that come to mind.

It's a fare increase. That's all it is. I don't like the presentation of it any more than you do, but fares change all the time. In 2003, CO had a $190 RT walk-up G fare for AUS-LAS (about $250 in 2017 dollars). Today, the cheapest walk-up fare on that route is a $536 V fare. I don't consider that the "biggest devaluation of elite benefits," I consider it "UA raising its prices."

I'll deal with this fare increase the same way I've dealt with the change in walk-up pricing on AUS-LAS; I'll alter my habits accordingly. If another airline offers me a better price on the same benefits, then I'll fly them. If not, I'll fly UA, or I'll drive, or I won't go. I care about legroom, and I value the possibility of upgrades (my CPU rate is not 100%, but it's nowhere near the 0-10% that some people state). I value those things more than I value $30 on a RT itinerary. The more UA increases their prices, the less likely it is that they will meet my needs. That's just economics.
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Old May 9, 17, 12:06 pm
  #1554  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Wow. Bigger than DL's addition of the MQD requirement? Bigger than DL's switch to spend-based earnings, and the resulting nosedive in earnings for people who fly on discount fares? Bigger than DL's removal of the award chart and deciding it'll just charge what it wants and you'll pay it? Bigger than DL's changes to elite access for C+?

Bigger than the elimination of CO Bronze? How about the CO Platinum flyer going from top-tier to third-tier status as part of the merger? Bigger than the introduction of co-pays on mileage upgrades for CO, at a time before they had upgrade certificates? How about the massive increase in the cost of first-class *A awards (using UA miles) a few years back?

I'm sure I can come up with more examples; those are just the ones that come to mind.

It's a fare increase. That's all it is. I don't like the presentation of it any more than you do, but fares change all the time. In 2003, CO had a $190 RT walk-up G fare for AUS-LAS (about $250 in 2017 dollars). Today, the cheapest walk-up fare on that route is a $536 V fare. I don't consider that the "biggest devaluation of elite benefits," I consider it "UA raising its prices."

I'll deal with this fare increase the same way I've dealt with the change in walk-up pricing on AUS-LAS; I'll alter my habits accordingly. If another airline offers me a better price on the same benefits, then I'll fly them. If not, I'll fly UA, or I'll drive, or I won't go. I care about legroom, and I value the possibility of upgrades (my CPU rate is not 100%, but it's nowhere near the 0-10% that some people state). I value those things more than I value $30 on a RT itinerary. The more UA increases their prices, the less likely it is that they will meet my needs. That's just economics.
United has implemented differential pricing for those wishing elite benifits and those who don't want them. It has done so on core business routes, w/o any ULCC competition, and done so on nearly all fares that a typical business traveler will see.

Airlines have made elite status harder to get (your examples, I could add them) and rewards harder to get (I would rank UA's basic axing of award space post 2012 over what you cite), and have dramatically increased redmption costs (UA's changes in 2013 come to mind). But never before has an airline made FF Status directly conditional on paying more than you otherwise would need to pay in effect accross the board.


At this point, on basically any United reoute I want to fly, United is demanding an extra $30 RT to "use" my status, otherwise it is just a BE fare. And OALs? On the routes and fares I am flying, they give me the same price UA wants for BE for a regular coach fare, and they recognize my status.

This is VERY different in taking away the benifits of FF status, unless you pay more. Delta did a few things arround the edges, on deep discount fares (no upgrades, no seating assignments) but what United is trying to do will have much more impact.

Everyone with Status on UA needs to ask themselves if it is worth flying an airline that will only let you USE your status if you pay an extra $30 +/- on every RT ticket... This is the new reality at United, and it is a dramatic sea. change.
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Old May 9, 17, 12:12 pm
  #1555  
 
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Originally Posted by nitab62 View Post
While I hope we all agree, the airlines are not in business to give away money nor has the pricing fluctuations has not been drastically different in decades (buy your tickets on 1 day vs another) it seems petty to think UA is different that all the other airlines.
The most striking thing about UA's implementation of BE is that, as a fare increase, it breaks with the long-held practice of all carriers offering the same (inventory-independent) price on competitive routes. Some people see it as UA exploiting elite loyalty to charge a premium when they're not offering a better standard product. Sure, they have a business right to do that, but they're doing it with the worst possible optics I can imagine.

Originally Posted by nitab62 View Post
Why does Southwest offer 3 fare types when you virtually get nothing for it. I stand in line, I don't have a seat and based on the fare, I don't have the flexibility to change to a different flight on the same day for free or for a small fee?
Huh? Two of WN's fare types (Anytime and Business Select) offer exactly that - unlimited free changes for no difference in fare (in normal cases), free standby, etc.

Originally Posted by nitab62 View Post
Is it OK for Spirit to charge for breathing the air on the plane, yet it doesn't seem to be demonized like the others.
And I flatly refuse to fly NK, F9, or G4. Period. I do not want to endorse their business model. And I think quite a number of us on FT act similarly.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I'll deal with this fare increase the same way I've dealt with the change in walk-up pricing on AUS-LAS; I'll alter my habits accordingly. If another airline offers me a better price on the same benefits, then I'll fly them. If not, I'll fly UA, or I'll drive, or I won't go. I care about legroom, and I value the possibility of upgrades (my CPU rate is not 100%, but it's nowhere near the 0-10% that some people state). I value those things more than I value $30 on a RT itinerary. The more UA increases their prices, the less likely it is that they will meet my needs. That's just economics.
+1. But it doesn't change the terrible optics. I try to ignore BE and just note that UA is now $15-$25 more than its direct competition, and when spending my own money it's just irritating.
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Old May 9, 17, 12:15 pm
  #1556  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
[B]

Everyone with Status on UA needs to ask themselves if it is worth flying an airline that will only let you USE your status if you pay an extra $30 +/- on every RT ticket... This is the new reality at United, and it is a dramatic sea. change.
United, we only value loyalty at every transaction!
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Old May 9, 17, 12:47 pm
  #1557  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
At this point, on basically any United reoute I want to fly, United is demanding an extra $30 RT to "use" my status, otherwise it is just a BE fare. And OALs? On the routes and fares I am flying, they give me the same price UA wants for BE for a regular coach fare, and they recognize my status.

This is VERY different in taking away the benifits of FF status, unless you pay more. Delta did a few things arround the edges, on deep discount fares (no upgrades, no seating assignments) but what United is trying to do will have much more impact.
It's not any different for me, because much of my travel is deep discount (even with no advance purchase). UA's model and DL's model are identical. I already ignore DL's BE product because I am willing to pay for legroom; I will now ignore UA's BE product too. Furthermore, just like any other price increase, if this is successful, DL will match it, and if it is not, UA will have to roll it back.

I already pay more to use my benefits on UA by choosing to fly UA even if they're a few dollars more expensive -- and, besides, that's often a false economy, because I sometimes need to check luggage and I always want a seat with enough legroom to avoid cramps. UA is no longer giving me the same discount that they did before. That's all.

Originally Posted by findark View Post
The most striking thing about UA's implementation of BE is that, as a fare increase, it breaks with the long-held practice of all carriers offering the same (inventory-independent) price on competitive routes. Some people see it as UA exploiting elite loyalty to charge a premium when they're not offering a better standard product. Sure, they have a business right to do that, but they're doing it with the worst possible optics I can imagine.

+1. But it doesn't change the terrible optics. I try to ignore BE and just note that UA is now $15-$25 more than its direct competition, and when spending my own money it's just irritating.
Oh, I agree 100% on the optics, and, yes, it breaks with tradition -- which is why I maintain that the other carriers will adopt it or UA will roll it back. If they could profitable offer fares $15 above their competition, they would have done so long ago.

I'm lucky to have a lot of flexibility in my personal travel, and a business travel policy that (a) filters out BE fares and (b) does not require the lowest coach fare, but rather allows for some reasonable level of personal choice. I have flown in and out of alternate airports; I've flown off-peak times and seasons; I've changed destinations entirely because I was able to get a better deal elsewhere. Not everyone has that same luxury.

I don't believe that this is the sea change that spin88 and others are suggesting. I certainly believe that it's obnoxious.

With the broader rollout of BE today, I'm surprised there aren't more reports of irritated flyers...
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Old May 9, 17, 12:50 pm
  #1558  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post

This is a major change, and as I have noted, it makes United non-competitive for anyone who is comparison shopping, either on an individual flight, or for an elite program.
The whole change basically makes the US the last place this has happened. AC has been doing these kinds of things on their Tango fares since they started in the early 2000s. EU has "lite" fares without bags, and carriers are starting to make seat assignments extra, even on long-hauls. Many asian carriers don't allow mileage accrual at all on their lowest fares - take a look at SQ for example - the difference between a fare that earns mileage and one that doesn't can be a lot more than the difference between BE and a regular fare. Can be the same on TG.

Yes, its a major change. Yes, there are differences between how its been implemented on other carriers and in other areas, but its really the same path, and the competition in the US, despite it declining as the carriers get bigger, is really the only reason its lasted this long. Welcome to the rest of the world.

Originally Posted by findark View Post
Heh, now I'm curious. If you book an N fare do you get the post-purchase F upgrade offer? Do you get PQD? N fares are 24-hours cancellable, right?
Not allowed to upgrade from an N fare - paid or not, so there wouldn't be a post-purchase offer. But go ahead and check - you're still entitled to the DOT regs on N fares - refundable for 24 hours assuming you buy 7 days+ our (but not changeable within 24 hours, which is different than other UA fares - you must cancel and rebook).

Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
This is where UA differs from Delta, per UA you get no benifits and no status credit for BE flights.
Others might, but I, as an elite, don't have a problem with no status miles. And as I mentioned above, UA isn't the first to do this - look worldwide where it can cost a whole lot more for a fare that earns even RDM.

As for no benefits, I've struck that out when I've quoted you since that's a fallacy you've peppered through this thread that just isn't true - you still get the extra multiplier for RDM, still get priority boarding, and still get a carry on bag, which is a unique benefit for elites flying BE. That's not enough for some, I get it, but it still makes your statement false.

Originally Posted by nitab62 View Post
Hmm, I guess I am not following this thread very well. While I hope we all agree, the airlines are not in business to give away money nor has the pricing fluctuations has not been drastically different in decades (buy your tickets on 1 day vs another) it seems petty to think UA is different that all the other airlines. We find one that suits our needs and they are competing with airlines that are different with different expenses.
Many people on FT either don't understand the concept of airlines wanting to make money, or ignore it because they want to get every little thing for nothing.

Originally Posted by nitab62 View Post
Why does Southwest offer 3 fare types when you virtually get nothing for it. I stand in line, I don't have a seat and based on the fare, I don't have the flexibility to change to a different flight on the same day for free or for a small fee? Sometimes, it is greater than the ticket originally bought. I don't get a larger seat, more leg room or anything worthy but pay a higher rate? Ok.
Southwest has mastered perception, really well, aided by the fact their fares aren't available on third-parties to comapre to others. When I've looked, and I have, they have never been cheaper. The no change fees can certainly be cheaper after you've purchased, but many times, especially on deep discount fares and changes close to departure, isn't. While I have paid occasional change fees to UA, I've never had to upfare - maybe luck - but that's my experience.

And the more limited network means many trips I couldn't even consider them.

Originally Posted by findark View Post
And I flatly refuse to fly NK, F9, or G4. Period. I do not want to endorse their business model. And I think quite a number of us on FT act similarly.
Same here. But that doesn't mean there isn't a segment (and apparently a large one, at that) that will fly these carriers happily. I also find the pricing model extremely deceptive, that will often have passengers paying a higher all-in at the end while getting way less - for example, you pay for a drink, get less pitch, bag fees are (or at least can be) higher than legacies, well less flexibility in IRROPS, etc. If folks are ok with that, that's fine. I'm not, so I won't go there.
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Old May 9, 17, 12:58 pm
  #1559  
 
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Has anyone here flown a BE and credited to a partner program? For a fare like this:

City pair: SFO-SEA
Fare class: N
Fare basis code: LAA4AQBN

Will it credit as L or N class?

If no experience, does anyone know how *A partners credit mileage. Is it based on the first letter of the fare basis code or is the letter determined by the airline separate from the fare basis code?
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Old May 9, 17, 1:14 pm
  #1560  
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Originally Posted by 1353513636 View Post
Has anyone here flown a BE and credited to a partner program? For a fare like this:

City pair: SFO-SEA
Fare class: N
Fare basis code: LAA4AQBN

Will it credit as L or N class?

If no experience, does anyone know how *A partners credit mileage. Is it based on the first letter of the fare basis code or is the letter determined by the airline separate from the fare basis code?
It will credit as N class. The "first letter of the fare basis" is more convention than anything else. It's the fare class that's provided to the program you're trying to credit.

I would imagine most, if not all, *A programs have been updated to disallow PQM on N fares; no idea about RDM, but I'd expect little.
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