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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 don’t 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 Sep 17, 17, 1:13 pm
  #2821  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Programs: UA 1K, AA Gold, Marriott/SPG Plat, Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 766
Originally Posted by DELee View Post
Even sadder, GAs give E+ away to those who bought BE but leave higher priced customers in Y.

David
I don’t think that’s the any more. They started giving free E+ to non-BE GMs instead
getagb is offline  
Old Sep 17, 17, 5:32 pm
  #2822  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Originally Posted by mduell View Post
First this thread complained the BE difference wasn't enough for the reduced service... now it's too much...
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
LOL I think it depends whether you're looking at it as a discount from regular economy or as an upcharge from BE.
I actually think the PO factor comes from NOT wanting to buy BE, as you want elite benifits/credit. Earlier the price point was too little to get anything good from BE (cheaper prices), now in some cases you are really forced into BE by large price spreads, which is perhaps even more infuriating.
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Old Sep 17, 17, 7:32 pm
  #2823  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: High and dry in Johnstown, CO
Programs: UA 1K 2.2MM, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 4,149
Originally Posted by getagb View Post
I don’t think that’s the any more. They started giving free E+ to non-BE GMs instead
Really? What's your evidence?

On the last three flights I took in Coach, including the one today, BE passengers were seated next to me in E+ -- and on two flights, they were beside me in the coveted bulkhead rows.

I don't see any scenario in which a gate agent would move non-BE GM passengers up to E+ in order to put BE passengers in E-, given the possibility of separating GMs from their traveling companions. If the non-BE GM doesn't have a seat assignment, then sure, but that's probably a minor percentage.
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Old Sep 17, 17, 7:35 pm
  #2824  
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Originally Posted by Lori_Q View Post
Really? What's your evidence? On the last two flights I took, including the one today, BE passengers were seated next to me in E+. I don't see how it makes any sense for gate agents to move non-BE GM passengers up to E+ in order to put BE passengers in E-, given the possibility of separating GMs from their traveling companions.
There have been limited reports of "regular" Y pax getting an offer to upgrade to E+ for free at check-in.

But I don't think this has changed the basic model, which makes BE seat assignment a total roll of the dice, with one of the potential outcomes involving a free E+ upgrade while those who paid more keep their E- seats.
Kacee is offline  
Old Sep 17, 17, 8:12 pm
  #2825  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Programs: Hertz PC
Posts: 515
These zero hour advance BE fares the closer you buy them to departure better chance you have of sitting in E+ Was my experience. If everybody else checked in and all that's left is E+ that where the computer will put you.
bhunt is offline  
Old Sep 18, 17, 4:15 pm
  #2826  
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 11
Denied carry-on even though MileagePlus Explorer cardholder

I have a MileagePlus Explorer card and bought a Basic Economy ticket from SFO to LAS (MileagePlus numbers entered when booked). It left from an international gate and when we checked in at the gate, we were told we could not bring a full-size carry-on.

I pointed the agent to the FAQ on Basic Economy on the United site that explicitly lists the exception and she still refused. She called another agent over to read and they both still refused saying it 'didn't apply'.

I then called MileagePlus support and the rep there tried to tell them the same thing: that the MileagePlus card allows an exception. Again, they refused, telling phone rep that they were wrong.

I also pointed out the boarding pass had us in priority group 2, not 5, which surprised her, but she still refused.

She was going to charge us for our carry-ons and a third agent then asked if we bought the tickets with the card. We actually did so in this case, so we let her confirm that was true and she said she’d make “an exception” for us in that case. However, just being card holders is supposed to be enough.

I’ve read of other passengers who’ve had similar problems and since you are at the mercy of the agents with no recourse if you can’t convince them, it is NOT a sure benefit of having this card. We spent nearly an hour of frustrating discussion and phone calls before our flight, but might have had to pay high fees for our bags (she was not going to allow them to be checked free, either, apparently).

Will United really refund the charges if we get charged? Where is such a request submitted if it happens?
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Old Sep 18, 17, 4:23 pm
  #2827  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,546
Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
It left from an international gate and when we checked in at the gate, we were told we could not bring a full-size carry-on.

...

I also pointed out the boarding pass had us in priority group 2, not 5, which surprised her, but she still refused.

...

Will United really refund the charges if we get charged? Where is such a request submitted if it happens?
Welcome to FT!

First of all, United would have had to refund the charges. You would have followed up with the refund department. Incidentally, if this had happened to me, I would also have contact customer service and complained; I would expect a mistaken charge to be worthy of a travel voucher for the inconvenience.

Why did you check in at the gate? What did you say there? Were you getting a seat assignment?

Did your boarding pass say "Basic Economy"? "BE - No Carry On"? How did the agents know you were in Basic Economy in the first place?

Typically, the way I hear this handled at the gate is "Customers in Group 5 are not allowed a carry-on."
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Old Sep 18, 17, 7:06 pm
  #2828  
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Join Date: May 2005
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So, here's a brief refersher of what I posted a coupl'a days ago . . . .

I was questioning whether or not I could take a "normal" carry-on with a BE fare, since I have a Chase UA credit card, and I have gotten free checked bags in the past, but, never got priority boarding. I have the old CO Chase card, that isn't offered anymore, and when I click on "Card Benefits" on my Chase account, it takes me to the Mileage Plus Explorer Card page, which shows priority boarding - - - BUT - - - Chase told me I have a "UA MP Signature Card" that DOESN'T offer priority boarding. <Thanx for reading my summary> . . . .

Now, the good part . . . .

When I was on the phone with Chase last week, the operator asked me if I wanted a copy of my card benefits mailed to me - - I said, SURE! Here's what they sent me . . . . It's simply UNBELIEVABLE! There was NOTHING else in the envelope! Just this letter!

<pic attached if you're on the mobile version>
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Old Sep 18, 17, 8:46 pm
  #2829  
 
Join Date: May 2015
Programs: All the programs!
Posts: 910
LOL. It's probably because they don't have a current benefits guide for your card so you just got the letter.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 9:09 pm
  #2830  
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 11
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Welcome to FT!

First of all, United would have had to refund the charges.
Thank you! Knowing I have recourse makes it easier to handle gracefully and with less stress.

Incidentally, if this had happened to me, I would also have contact customer service and complained
I did fill out an online United customer service feedback form detailing our experience.

Why did you check in at the gate? What did you say there? Were you getting a seat assignment?
Yes, you are right -- we were getting a seat assignment not checking in (done via app). This BE flight was a late purchase. We were arriving SFO (our home airport) from another city in the evening and a few days prior had learned we needed to be in LAS early the next day and got this BE ticket (allowing 2 hours between flights). We did not exit security between the two separately ticketed flights. The first was also United, but not BE. This was our first BE flight.

Did your boarding pass say "Basic Economy"? "BE - No Carry On"? How did the agents know you were in Basic Economy in the first pl
The boarding pass says 'BASIC ECONOMY' at the bottom and "TSA PRE **Priority B" at the top. It does not say 'No Carry On' anywhere.

When the gate agent assigned us seats she asked if we had full size carry-ons and we said yes and that's when she said we couldn't take them on the plane and would have to pay to check them.

BTW, we were assigned two E+ aisle seats across from each other; much nicer than we were expecting! We assumed we'd get two middles far away from each other and that would have been perfectly fine for this short flight (and why we went for the inexpensive last-minute BE flight).

This was a flight where almost all of the passengers were connecting from over-the-pacific flights (Korea and China) and the gate agents were native speakers of those languages and fluent ESL speakers. Perhaps they don't see enough BE passengers to be familiar with the standard exceptions to the BE no-carry-on policy? Other than initially refusing they were polite and efficient.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 11:46 pm
  #2831  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: New York, NY
Programs: United Premier Platinum
Posts: 953
Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
Other than initially refusing they were polite and efficient.
...and completely wrong about your carry-on bags.
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Old Sep 19, 17, 3:44 am
  #2832  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,546
Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
Yes, you are right -- we were getting a seat assignment not checking in (done via app). This BE flight was a late purchase. We were arriving SFO (our home airport) from another city in the evening and a few days prior had learned we needed to be in LAS early the next day and got this BE ticket (allowing 2 hours between flights). We did not exit security between the two separately ticketed flights. The first was also United, but not BE. This was our first BE flight.
OK, that makes sense, then. From your initial description, I thought perhaps you had asked some question like "we're in Basic Economy; are we allowed to have these carry-ons?" (Not that you shouldn't have been able to expect the correct answer even if you had. :-)

Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
The boarding pass says 'BASIC ECONOMY' at the bottom and "TSA PRE **Priority B" at the top. It does not say 'No Carry On' anywhere.
The most recent Group 5 BE boarding passes I've seen said "BE - NO CARRY ON", although I think those came from a kiosk (on the thermal paper). The ones that the agents print, on the (light) card stock, may be arranged differently. But Group 2 should have been the deciding factor.

Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
When the gate agent assigned us seats she asked if we had full size carry-ons and we said yes and that's when she said we couldn't take them on the plane and would have to pay to check them.
She had the information right in front of her to know that wasn't the case. That's disappointing.

Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
Perhaps they don't see enough BE passengers to be familiar with the standard exceptions to the BE no-carry-on policy? Other than initially refusing they were polite and efficient.
If they work domestic flights, they need to know the policies -- although, having said that, I've heard the exact same script read in the boarding area for a long-haul international flight at ORD: "Customers in Groups 1-4 may bring one carry-on and one personal item. Customers in Group 5 are limited to one personal item."

Originally Posted by zartemis View Post
I did fill out an online United customer service feedback form detailing our experience.
I'm glad to hear that, as UA needs to know that agents are still mis-applying the policy. Since you weren't actually charged in the end, I don't know that the customer service desk will decide that a voucher is warranted, but at least the station manager at SFO will know that somebody needs to send out a reminder about the BE rules.
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Old Sep 19, 17, 4:53 pm
  #2833  
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So if anyone's curious, my party of 3 (two 1Ks, 1 no-status) was given the first empty row in regular coach when we checked in for our Basic Economy flight at the 24-hour mark. We have Zone 1. There is no mention on the boarding pass about luggage.

The upsell charge to regular economy for our 3-hour flight was $40 oneway for each pax. When I checked in, First Class was already full, so I wasn't going to be getting any upgrades. So the only thing I'm giving up (if you're not worried about requalification, and I'm not) is some extra legroom and maybe 5 minutes of wasted time getting off the aircraft. That's not worth $120, at least to me. Obviously, if you get stuck with a middle seat, it's worth something, though. A bit of a gamble, I suppose.
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Old Sep 19, 17, 5:26 pm
  #2834  
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 11
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
She had the information right in front of her to know that wasn't the case. That's disappointing.
Very.

It then it became so absurd as to be surreal when I gave them my iPad with the United BE FAQ displayed (pointing out the united.com URL and the relevant paragraphs with the exception info) and watched them read it and then completely disregard it. And then when I called MileagePlus support line (from the back of the card), put the call on speakerphone with the agents and listened to the two agents flat out tell the phone rep on speakerphone that he as wrong when he explained the policy to them. He eventually said he'd get a supervisor, but that supervisor did not come online until after the 3rd agent decided to allow the carry-ons.

I think my chin is bruised from my jaw hitting the ground so many times in disbelief.

Since you weren't actually charged in the end, I don't know that the customer service desk will decide that a voucher is warranted, but at least the station manager at SFO will know that somebody needs to send out a reminder about the BE rules.
That's my hope. I can see us using BE again, we expect to have a number of last-minute short flights over the next 11 months or so and a smooth BE experience would be appreciated.
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Old Sep 19, 17, 5:56 pm
  #2835  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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Posts: 2,062
I have a family member (Silver) who checked in at 1st flight's T-24 but couldn't yet select E+ for the 2nd flight and subsequently forgot about the 2nd flight's T-24 due to time difference. At 2nd flight's T-22, there were no more E+ when there were plenty just a couple of hours prior! The new practice of UA letting non-BE non-Premier select E+ (making blue seats white) caused grief among Silver members!
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