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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 Jul 27, 17, 6:30 pm
  #2221  
 
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Originally Posted by JohnneeO View Post
I really feel that UA needs to add the check-in restrictions to the list of services that BE fares do not include. It appears from all reports that non-status, non CC holding flyers who are traveling on BE fares, and who are not paying for a checked bag are prevented from checking in online.

It's fine that UA is imposing these restrictions, but not fine that they are not upfront about it.
it's all part of the saving$

Originally Posted by mrjohnnyt View Post
Just had a funny thought. They should have an airline that just sells BE seats, no first class, they could call it Ted.
LOL

However, TED came with E+.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jul 27, 17 at 7:34 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Jul 27, 17, 6:34 pm
  #2222  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
No it's way more than that. The boarding group and baggage restrictions, among other things, go far beyond mere "fare rules."

This is a new class of ticket that comes with a whole new set of policies. And I can totally see UA enforcing stricter IRROPS rebooking policies. Remember, all rebooking is discretionary. Under the CoC, UA always has the alternative of simply refunding the ticket.
So assuming that the IRROPS accommodation doesn't replace another pax, what is the point of stricter IRROPS rules for BE tickets? To make sure that the customer is angry enough that they don't buy BE again? Or fly UA again?
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Old Jul 27, 17, 6:43 pm
  #2223  
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Originally Posted by Starman View Post
So assuming that the IRROPS accommodation doesn't replace another pax, what is the point of stricter IRROPS rules for BE tickets? To make sure that the customer is angry enough that they don't buy BE again? Or fly UA again?
There's similarly no point to not allowing advance seat assignments. Given there's no option to buy out of that, it's purely punitive rather than revenue producing.

This stuff really only makes sense if you view BE as a stealth fare increase . . . the "we want to discourage passengers from buying these tickets and instead opt to pay $20 more" theory.

And just to be clear, I'm not saying UA actually has a stricter IRROPS rebooking policy for BE fares, just that I wouldn't be surprised if they do (and that it would be permitted under the CoC).
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Old Jul 27, 17, 7:19 pm
  #2224  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
No it's way more than that. The boarding group and baggage restrictions, among other things, go far beyond mere "fare rules."

This is a new class of ticket that comes with a whole new set of policies. And I can totally see UA enforcing stricter IRROPS rebooking policies. Remember, all rebooking is discretionary. Under the CoC, UA always has the alternative of simply refunding the ticket.
Yes, it allows UA to show their true customer service side. Call security and have those pax dragged out of the gate waiting area.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 7:27 pm
  #2225  
 
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
You have a PM.

For the price that I paid for this ticket, $69 for a non-stop flight of approximately 2,000 miles, it doesn't really matter.
OK, but AA sold me an LAX-ORD RT for $100 with full benefits. Your $69 fare is non-UPG'able and extremely restricted. I may want to do a same day standby if my UPG doesn't clear, though it should. I have bulkhead seats for the entire journey. I may need to check a bag or two, free of charge.

Enjoy that UA customer service.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 8:14 pm
  #2226  
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Given there's no option to buy out of that, it's purely punitive rather than revenue producing.

This stuff really only makes sense if you view BE as a stealth fare increase . . . the "we want to discourage passengers from buying these tickets and instead opt to pay $20 more" theory.
At the risk of sounding like an apologist for UA, I will differ with that.

UA didn't start competing with ULCCs when they introduced BE. But they lowered the fare well before introducing BE because they really wanted to attract no frills ULCC customers, but they had no choice but to offer this cheap fare to regular customers as well.

The the idea of BE came along, and the price they felt they needed to charge for no frills customer remained the same, but the price that offered more than what ULCCs were offering, i.e. Spirit's et al Bare Fare was raised to what UA felt it should have been all along.

Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
And just to be clear, I'm not saying UA actually has a stricter IRROPS rebooking policy for BE fares, just that I wouldn't be surprised if they do (and that it would be permitted under the CoC).
UA along with AA and DL offer WAY more frequence than ULCCs. If Spirit does not fly, you don't have the luxury of catching the next flight (well you do BUT) because that could be a couple of days as not all routes have daily service

Originally Posted by rbAA View Post
Yes, it allows UA to show their true customer service side. Call security and have those pax dragged out of the gate waiting area.
Spirit has the most complaints of any airline IIRC, so in a way UA is offering Spirit type service to BE customers.

The second statement is a red herring. Ya, UA screwed up big time (and more than once), but their exceptionally poor judgment is unrelated to BE (which many feel is also showing poor judgment).
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Old Jul 27, 17, 8:19 pm
  #2227  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post

This stuff really only makes sense if you view BE as a stealth fare increase . . . the "we want to discourage passengers from buying these tickets and instead opt to pay $20 more" theory.
The things that Flyertalk customers think are important are not important to everyone. Not having an assigned seat has not hurt Southwest from becoming an extremely popular airline. I won't fly them because I like assigned seats. Many people I know fly them all the time. And they allow free ticket changes that United doesn't, so Southwest passengers can look at United (even before BE) as too passenger-unfriendly.

So I believe there certainly is a market for BE even with the restrictions. Lots of folks just want to get from point A to point B for the least amount of money. BE is for them, as Southwest is for so many.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 8:44 pm
  #2228  
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Originally Posted by nycityny View Post
Not having an assigned seat has not hurt Southwest from becoming an extremely popular airline.
That's not entirely accurate, b/c WN doesn't let anyone select seats in advance. So if you have a BP under about B30, you'll get a window or aisle and no problem getting two seats together. And many WN pax pay extra for EBCI so they can be assured of a sub-B30 BP.

By contrast, on UA, everyone else can pick seats in advance. Which means that BE pax have very high odds of getting a middle, and no way to guarantee two seats together..

Originally Posted by nycityny View Post
So I believe there certainly is a market for BE even with the restrictions. Lots of folks just want to get from point A to point B for the least amount of money. BE is for them, as Southwest is for so many.
Sorry, but BE is for consumers who are unable to differentiate between price and value.

And if you're saying that WN is a low price airline, that's not true. On many routes, they are more expensive than UA. The only reason I sometimes fly WN has nothing to do with any of the points you mention. They fly out of OAK, and UA does not. I suspect that not having to cross the Bay Bridge is the driver of much of their business at OAK, which has one of WN's largest operations.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 9:05 pm
  #2229  
 
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
The the idea of BE came along, and the price they felt they needed to charge for no frills customer remained the same, but the price that offered more than what ULCCs were offering, i.e. Spirit's et al Bare Fare was raised to what UA felt it should have been all along.
UA may have been selling that narrative when they introduced BE, but it doesn't match reality, and it never did. They do not compete with ULCCs on every domestic city pair, but every domestic city pair now has BE, and you can safely expect it to be rolled out worldwide once they figure out the logistics.

If all they wanted to do was match Spirit's Base Fare, they didn't need differential pricing on BE. All they needed to accomplish that was for N to be a normal fare bucket below G. They could allocate a certain amount of space to N and be done with it, and people could continue to purchase it or buy the next available class instead.

And if all they wanted to do was compete with ULCCs, they would have rolled it out selectively on routes with head-to-head competition, as DL did when they originally invented the concept.

BE is nothing but a fare increase, with conditions that disproportionately affect Premier members (no CPUs, no E+ access, no SDC).
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Old Jul 27, 17, 9:23 pm
  #2230  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post

BE is nothing but a fare increase, with conditions that disproportionately affect Premier members (no CPUs, no E+ access, no SDC).
We'll have to agree to disagree. OK, I agree to disagree, and yes, I have my flameproof outfit on.

OTOH, if they really are introducing BE on routes where there is no ULCC, well, maybe they are trying to attract those customers.

BTW, both AA and DL have BE fares to my neck of the woods, while UA has BE only to SEA, but not western Canada.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 9:23 pm
  #2231  
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Originally Posted by rbAA View Post
OK, but AA sold me an LAX-ORD RT for $100 with full benefits. Your $69 fare is non-UPG'able and extremely restricted. I may want to do a same day standby if my UPG doesn't clear, though it should. I have bulkhead seats for the entire journey. I may need to check a bag or two, free of charge.

Enjoy that UA customer service.
Good for you.

American, which is my primary carrier, BTW, has no non-stop flights for my upcoming trip.

I have no status on United, so my chances of an upgrade are nil. I will not pay extra the equivalent of what I paid for my ticket for E+. I priced an E+ upgrade when I considered buying the regular economy fare, the total would have been almost three times as much as I paid for my ticket.

As a MileagePlus primary cardholder, I get a free checked bag and a full sized carry on, even when flying on the Basic Economy fare. I also got group 2 boarding.

I don't care about flight changes, because there aren't many frequencies to my destination and the change fee is several fold what I paid for the ticket.

I don't fly enough on United to care about equity or status earning miles.

The only difference for me was the ability to select a seat. I ended up with a very similar seat to what I would have chosen had I bought a regular economy ticket, a few rows farther back but not all the way in the rear of the plane.

Basic may not be right for you, but it certainly worked for me for this particular trip.

Different stroke for different folks.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 9:26 pm
  #2232  
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
The the idea of BE came along, and the price they felt they needed to charge for no frills customer remained the same, but the price that offered more than what ULCCs were offering, i.e. Spirit's et al Bare Fare was raised to what UA felt it should have been all along.
So how do you explain not allowing advance seat assignments, and not allowing pax to pay a fee for advance seat assignments? That is just plain irrational from a revenue perspective, unless your goal is to make the fare so unattractive that passengers will pay $20 more just to avoid it.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
BE is nothing but a fare increase, with conditions that disproportionately affect Premier members (no CPUs, no E+ access, no SDC).
It is exactly that. A particularly mean spirited one. And not only is it hard on the passengers, it makes the employees' (particularly the GAs) jobs harder.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 9:38 pm
  #2233  
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post

Basic may not be right for you, but it certainly worked for me for this particular trip.
Nicely put.

I've come around on my BE thinking (see other BE thread for details), and while I agree that most of "changes you'll like" were anything but, UA has it basically right this time. Needs some tweeking no doubt the basic idea of BE is on the right track.

For one, those aisle / exit row seats that elites complained were always unavailable for their last minute expensive flights and filled by Kettles buying dirt cheap fares should now be available

As in the other BE thread, I've got my flameproof suit on
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Old Jul 27, 17, 10:06 pm
  #2234  
 
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
We'll have to agree to disagree. OK, I agree to disagree, and yes, I have my flameproof outfit on.

OTOH, if they really are introducing BE on routes where there is no ULCC, well, maybe they are trying to attract those customers.

BTW, both AA and DL have BE fares to my neck of the woods, while UA has BE only to SEA, but not western Canada.
I believe UA already announced that they'll be expanding BE to Canada in the near future. If not, I'm quite certain that they will.

And if UA wanted to attract ULCC customers with ULCC-like fares on new routes, that's fine -- but you'd think they'd do it by offering a discount, not raising all of the other fares.

In fact, UA's initial strategy failed. One of the original quotes -- and a driving criterion behind the implementation of BE -- was that they were going to offer last-seat availability on BE fares. And, they did that -- you saw things like a full unrestricted, refundable, elite instant upgradable Y fare for $805 or no-changes BE-Y for $800. To this day, availability in N matches Y -- Y1 B0 ... N1 is possible. The only difference is that they've pulled those Y fares, along with the other BE fares where the corresponding fare was refundable. Presumably, they saw a significant book-away factor, because that change happened quite quickly.

When I think of a ULCC fare, I think of something like G4's cheapest fares. For example, G4 is offering an AUS-LAS round-trip, non-stop, Mon 9/11-Thu 9/14, for $84. On the same dates, UA's cheapest published BE fare is $209.10, and I'd have to connect.

Now, this is admittedly an extreme example, and on some markets where they compete head-to-head with non-stops, UA has actually priced to match the ULCCs -- especially F9 and NK. However, that's clearly not true across the board; it's disingenuous to suggest that BE has anything to do with ULCC competition. The ULCCs are simply a convenient scapegoat.

Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
It is exactly that. A particularly mean spirited one. And not only is it hard on the passengers, it makes the employees' (particularly the GAs) jobs harder.
I agree. The GAs don't make the policy but are expected to enforce and defend it to irritated customers.
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Old Jul 27, 17, 10:11 pm
  #2235  
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
Nicely put.

I've come around on my BE thinking (see other BE thread for details), and while I agree that most of "changes you'll like" were anything but, UA has it basically right this time. Needs some tweeking no doubt the basic idea of BE is on the right track.

For one, those aisle / exit row seats that elites complained were always unavailable for their last minute expensive flights and filled by Kettles buying dirt cheap fares should now be available

As in the other BE thread, I've got my flameproof suit on
I agree. If folks want to buy BE, IME, there's no reason why UA shouldn't offer it. It may not be my choice of fare in 95% of the cases (I can see a couple of cases where I would consider it), but that doesn't mean it doesn't work for others. Similar to how I won't fly Spirit, but apparently they are still doing well so there are enough people that will.

As I've said multiple times in this BE thread or the other, the US carriers are actually the last to catch onto these 'basic' types of fares. As is often the case, they are implementing it differently. One of the first that I became aware of was AC Tango fares, which started definitely by the early 2000s (but have had a few iterations). LH has their 'lite' fares and low-mileage earning fares - and now, basically you don't get seat selection without paying on pretty much any non full-fare, even on long-hauls. Heck, SQ you need to pay for semi-flex to earn miles on any partner, and that can be hundreds more depending on route/time.

It's also taking time for people to get used to, understandably. But remember when people were up in arms when the airlines took away free meals in domestic economy, and started adding baggage and other ancillary fees? And guess what - folks got used to it.
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