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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 Dec 22, 17, 7:55 pm
  #3076  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: New England
Programs: DL GM, UA, B6, AA, WN, AS, AGR
Posts: 4,121
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
agree that the rules are more Draconian on UA. I almost give them credit for the check-in thing, though, because they’re really trying to keep people from bringing a full-size carry on to the gate and then getting upset. I say “almost” because it’s sort of like praising them for not shooting their entire foot off — “good job, guys the ankle’s still intact!” — but more passengers screaming at the gate agent wouldn’t be good for anyone.
It's definitely a revenue thing. It's also a revenue loophole thing. UA and AA realized that by boarding last, BE pax could simply gate check the carryon bags for free when the overheads filled up. This would actually incentivize the purchase of BE fares. Why pay more to pick your seat AND pay for a checked bag when you can pay less and give up seat selection to get your bag checked for free? This is why they don't allow a full sized carry-on.
diburning is offline  
Old Dec 22, 17, 8:45 pm
  #3077  
LBJ
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The last that I’ve seen, UA is no longer offering BE on walk-up style fares except under the specific circumstance that Kacee saw — when it’s only one way of a round-trip and BE is available (on a non-walk-up fare) in the other direction. The only exception are a few legitimately low-price fares that have been popping up, where UA will file a 0-advance-purchase deep discount fare that’s not paired with a regular economy fare. If you want regular economy, you have to pay walk-up prices, but BE is significantly cheaper (examples have been in the hundreds of dollars).

If DL is truly doing what you’re saying — which, if you were to read the gleeful posts by certain members of this forum, is completely impossible because DL is nearly perfect and knows that BE is a horribly offensive product to business travelers — that’s new for them, and a worrying sign that UA’s original plan was correct and may return. (UA originally expected the other airlines to follow suit and only rolled back the broader BE implementation because they didn’t).

I agree that the rules are more Draconian on UA. I almost give them credit for the check-in thing, though, because they’re really trying to keep people from bringing a full-size carry on to the gate and then getting upset. I say “almost” because it’s sort of like praising them for not shooting their entire foot off — “good job, guys the ankle’s still intact!” — but more passengers screaming at the gate agent wouldn’t be good for anyone.


Well, the intent is that you’ll have nowhere else to go. If all of the legacy carriers have BE, your choices are to fly BE, pay the regular economy premium, or fly a ULCC and possibly pay more in the end anyway.
I just searched DL fares on about dozen domestic routes on ExpertFlyer and the BE fares only went as high as K fares with a maximum of about $350 one-way. I found no BE fares on DL corresponding to the Y,B,M,H,Q fare classes which are the ones which you would traditional consider to be "walk-up" fare classes. So I think previous poster's definition of "insane fares" needs to be qualified a bit. Yes, they have expanded them into somewhat higher fare classes as they originally seemed to only have them for T,X,V fare classes, but I don't think I'd quite call them "insane" yet.
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Old Dec 22, 17, 8:48 pm
  #3078  
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Originally Posted by diburning View Post
It's definitely a revenue thing. It's also a revenue loophole thing. UA and AA realized that by boarding last, BE pax could simply gate check the carryon bags for free when the overheads filled up. This would actually incentivize the purchase of BE fares. Why pay more to pick your seat AND pay for a checked bag when you can pay less and give up seat selection to get your bag checked for free? This is why they don't allow a full sized carry-on.
I think you're giving way too much credit to everyone involved. While a few "travel hacker" types would probably do that, most people aren't that sophisticated, which is why unbundled pricing works in the first place. Most people do not do a great job of calculating total cost in advance.

Disallowing the full-size carry-on might well have been a revenue enhancement strategy, but requiring counter check-in seems to be more about keeping the yelling at the counter, where it won't delay flights, instead of at the gate, where it might.
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Old Dec 22, 17, 11:56 pm
  #3079  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: LA
Posts: 7,150
I will never fly UA basic economy. I have not been able to rectify flying on a paid ticket and not getting lifetime miles. It feels like a sleazy move to me. UA is gambling that I would pay more, but all things being equal I would choose DL/AA in basic economy long before UA. That being said, I think most people wouldn't care at all.

Sometimes it's the little things, like years ago UA giving buy up opportunities to general members and excluding elites. It just leaves a bad taste.
anc-ord772 is offline  
Old Dec 23, 17, 12:45 am
  #3080  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: SFO/SJC/OAK
Programs: OZ Diamond (*G), AAdvantage Gold, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 1,204
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Well, the intent is that you’ll have nowhere else to go. If all of the legacy carriers have BE, your choices are to fly BE, pay the regular economy premium, or fly a ULCC and possibly pay more in the end anyway.
For those that live in a big Spirit hub, the Big Seat is looking better and better compared to the legacies' BE fares. Buy up to a first class seat for just a little more than it is to buy up to a normal Y fare from BE. And yes I get their ops aren't as great, but still.
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Old Dec 25, 17, 9:15 pm
  #3081  
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Programs: DL PM, UA Gold, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Disallowing the full-size carry-on might well have been a revenue enhancement strategy, but requiring counter check-in seems to be more about keeping the yelling at the counter, where it won't delay flights, instead of at the gate, where it might.
I honestly think the carryon restriction was to force the bags that were already going in the hold to do so ahead of time. It enhances revenue, but more importantly it means faster boarding. Anecdotally I feel like my flights this year have boarded faster, but I wonder if they're tracking statistics.

My biggest annoyance about BE is that non-major price competition no longer draws a real fare match, but I think that was kind of the point... they just did this in a criminally stupid way when dealing with WN on the west coast.
findark is offline  
Old Dec 26, 17, 6:40 am
  #3082  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: SW Colorado
Programs: UAL Silver Hilton Diamond Hyatt Plat
Posts: 164
Has anyone encountered this:

BE connecting flight out of EWR to DEN I already have seats assigned in my reservation, 3days before flight date. And they are 38A,B&C on a 737-800? It’s been a long time since I flew in the VERY back of the bus, was kinda looking forward to my party being scattered in middle seats, perhaps in the 20-ish range, lol. Wonder if it’ll stick on check in.. My first flight continues not showing seat assignments.
MTJTraveller is offline  
Old Dec 26, 17, 10:14 am
  #3083  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 581
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post


The last that I’ve seen, UA is no longer offering BE on walk-up style fares except under the specific circumstance that Kacee saw — when it’s only one way of a round-trip and BE is available (on a non-walk-up fare) in the other direction. The only exception are a few legitimately low-price fares that have been popping up, where UA will file a 0-advance-purchase deep discount fare that’s not paired with a regular economy fare. If you want regular economy, you have to pay walk-up prices, but BE is significantly cheaper (examples have been in the hundreds of dollars).

If DL is truly doing what you’re saying — which, if you were to read the gleeful posts by certain members of this forum, is completely impossible because DL is nearly perfect and knows that BE is a horribly offensive product to business travelers — that’s new for them, and a worrying sign that UA’s original plan was correct and may return. (UA originally expected the other airlines to follow suit and only rolled back the broader BE implementation because they didn’t).



I agree that the rules are more Draconian on UA. I almost give them credit for the check-in thing, though, because they’re really trying to keep people from bringing a full-size carry on to the gate and then getting upset. I say “almost” because it’s sort of like praising them for not shooting their entire foot off — “good job, guys the ankle’s still intact!” — but more passengers screaming at the gate agent wouldn’t be good for anyone.

Well, the intent is that you’ll have nowhere else to go. If all of the legacy carriers have BE, your choices are to fly BE, pay the regular economy premium, or fly a ULCC and possibly pay more in the end anyway.
You have other choices if AS, HA (both legacies), B6 or WN fly between the cities you want. The big three have often been price matching these carriers lowest fares, with BE fares. Why would anyone choose a UA BE fare for the same price as a normal economy ticket on any if these carriers?
Aliquot is offline  
Old Dec 27, 17, 3:58 am
  #3084  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
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Originally Posted by Aliquot View Post
You have other choices if AS, HA (both legacies), B6 or WN fly between the cities you want. The big three have often been price matching these carriers lowest fares, with BE fares. Why would anyone choose a UA BE fare for the same price as a normal economy ticket on any if these carriers?
You likely wouldn’t, and intra-California was probably the biggest misstep for UA.

Having said that, it’s important to understand the business plan for BE in order to judge its successes and failures. Essentially, it was a fare increase — UA’s goal was to make BE so unpalatable that few would buy it. Their expectation was that the fare increase would be matched by the legacy carriers (at a minimum); internally, they may also have guessed that WN would follow suit with the increase (but not the BE product), since they had already left the comparison search tools anyway.

In hindsight, it’s been both successful and a failure. The regular economy uptake rate was huge — I believe I read it was somewhere in the 70% range. That means, something like 70% of travelers were paying a fare other than the cheapest — that’s a gigantic win from UA’s perspective. Imagine what it would do to their earnings if every passenger voluntarily chose one booking class above the cheapest available — for example, if they chose the K fare when a G was available.

The failure, of course, comes from the fact that the other carriers didn’t match their fare increase, and UA lost business as a result. This lost business appears to have cancelled out much, if not all, of the gain from having 70% of travelers pay for regular economy; hence, the changes in strategy.

Still, the correct question isn’t really “why would you fly UA BE when regular WN is the same price,” it’s “would you pay, e.g., $20 more to fly UA regular economy vs. WN?” For me, at the $20 price point, the answer is yes, at a $400 price point, the answer is no, and I don’t know exactly where the equilibrium point is. It’s important to remember that UA’s goal is not to sell BE tickets in the first place.
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Old Feb 6, 19, 8:25 pm
  #3085  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
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This is an archive thread -- the active thread is United's Basic Economy - Discussion, Q&A, ...

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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Feb 9, 19 at 5:21 pm Reason: archive thread
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