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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 6, 16, 9:37 am
  #706  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Originally Posted by PVDtoDEL View Post
*G members and credit card holders are permitted to bring a carryon, which is why FT is quite confident that Boarding Group is going to be how they segregate pax.
Oops, yes, you are right, I forgot that "benefit". From the same page:

"Carry-on bags are limited to one personal item, unless the customer is a MileagePlus® Premier® member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star AllianceTM Gold member."
notquiteaff is offline  
Old Dec 6, 16, 10:28 am
  #707  
 
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stupid question by "premier MP member" does this mean lowly silver and above?
wolfie_cr is offline  
Old Dec 6, 16, 11:18 am
  #708  
 
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Originally Posted by wolfie_cr View Post
stupid question by "premier MP member" does this mean lowly silver and above?
Yes, that should mean *all* Premiers, Silver+.

However, knowing how UA is, better not be late for your boarding group.
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Old Dec 6, 16, 1:30 pm
  #709  
 
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Originally Posted by joseeantonior View Post
Yes, that should mean *all* Premiers, Silver+.

However, knowing how UA is, better not be late for your boarding group.
That kind of applies, regardless, in today's environment. But at least as a premier you won't have to pay to gate check your bag if you're late.
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Old Dec 6, 16, 9:47 pm
  #710  
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"United Airlines Wants to do to Flying What Republicans Want to do to Health Care"

Anyone see this yet? From Slate.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/..._s_health.html

The money paragraph:

"[A]t some point price discrimination becomes outright discrimination. Consider who United's new low-cost fare would actually appeal to. It's probably a person on a short trip who's young and hale enough to carry all of the belongings they need on their back or shoulder. A couple living out a New York Times “36 Hours” column in Maine comes to mind. Families traveling with children, though? They used to be able to use the bins, but now they'll be paying that checked bag fee. Elderly passengers who need to wheel their luggage around? Them too. United is slapping fliers with a parenthood and age tax."

Incredible that I'm reading all this critical press about BE, making it sound like UA is instituting a sort of airborne Turkish prison, while lush Polaris TV ads play in the background... does the United brand stretch far enough to cover both?
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Old Dec 6, 16, 9:54 pm
  #711  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Anyone see this yet? From Slate.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/..._s_health.html

The money paragraph:

"[A]t some point price discrimination becomes outright discrimination. Consider who United's new low-cost fare would actually appeal to. It's probably a person on a short trip who's young and hale enough to carry all of the belongings they need on their back or shoulder. A couple living out a New York Times “36 Hours” column in Maine comes to mind. Families traveling with children, though? They used to be able to use the bins, but now they'll be paying that checked bag fee. Elderly passengers who need to wheel their luggage around? Them too. United is slapping fliers with a parenthood and age tax."

Incredible that I'm reading all this critical press about BE, making it sound like UA is instituting a sort of airborne Turkish prison, while lush Polaris TV ads play in the background... does the United brand stretch far enough to cover both?
The author is clearly lacking a basic understanding of economics

Using his logic, the "young and hale" pax who BE would appeal to should pay a "tax" in the form of a higher fare because other people want to put their stuff in overhead bins. If people don't want BE, they won't buy it and the product will fail. That doesn't mean it's the place of the government to regulate it away
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Old Dec 6, 16, 11:32 pm
  #712  
 
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Just when it seemed like United was starting to turn a corner...

Whether or not this whole scheme makes sense or not, or is good for elite flyers or not...they are crushing their brand. None of the rest of it matters. They are entering mainstream dialogue, late night shows, etc, as a punch line. They spend millions of dollars trying to debut a new business class and reset the dialogue on their airline, and they're blowing it in a matter of days. We'll see how much this snowballs, but for the negative publicity alone...so not worth it.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 12:00 am
  #713  
 
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Im not a fan of the BE fares and the idea, but I am happy I will still be able to exercise the choice to buy the regular economy. But is anyone else really annoyed by the dozens of news media outlets reporting that United will begin "charging for overhead bin space"? This has created so many Facebook comments with dramatic outcries of "never flying them again" and "how dare they". Maybe UA didnt do a good enough job at indicating that the regular fares would still be available. I noticed that none of the misleading news articles mentioned this. An easily misled person would believe that this applies to all economy fares. I am not surprised a bit at the reaction though, we as Americans will react first, post about it, and then ignore the full story throughout.

For the record, UA is attempting to clarify on their Twitter responses that they indeed are NOT charging for bin space. But I am annoyed nonetheless about this. I kind of feel bad for UA, this has turned in to a PR mess. No doubt they will need to address this directly, with a video from Oscar, or new campaign.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 12:23 am
  #714  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Incredible that I'm reading all this critical press about BE, making it sound like UA is instituting a sort of airborne Turkish prison, while lush Polaris TV ads play in the background... does the United brand stretch far enough to cover both?
Yeah it's certainly amazing how much of a difference two people on a plane can have. Imagine flying on, say, ORD-HKG operated by a 77W.

The passenger who bought the Basic Economy fare has been allocated a seat squarely in the middle of the 3-4-3 economy section near the back of the plane. It's some small consolation that they board last as it means nearly a 1% reduction in the amount of time they'll have to spend in this cramped aluminum tube. The flight's about 4/5 full (hurray for revenue management). The row behind them is empty and they ask a FA if they mind if they sit there. "Can I see your boarding pass?" is the reply. "Look here - BASIC - NO MOVES." They watch eight films during their 8000 great-circle miles and get two nutritionally adequate LSG Sky Chefs meals.

The passenger who bought Polaris has more or less the experience described in the UA TV ads.

If you could measure a Gini coefficient for an airline I'm sure you'd see it going up for UA. Kinda fascinating.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 5:59 am
  #715  
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Originally Posted by MFLetou View Post
...they are crushing their brand... They are entering mainstream dialogue, late night shows, etc, as a punch line. They spend millions of dollars trying to debut a new business class and reset the dialogue on their airline, and they're blowing it in a matter of days.
All I know is, I see zero discussion of Polaris in free / earned media. Polaris exists only in UA's paid ad campaigns. But local TV news, bloggers, etc. keep up this drumbeat of: "More cutbacks at United! ... you'll have to pay to use the overhead bin! ... Can budget travel get any worse?"... I'm in Chicago and local TV news folks are bantering about BE in this kind of shaking-our-heads-in-sorrow way. And they are leaving the impression that BE is the new normal at United.

Polaris never comes up. This is not how you engineer brand buzz.

Does Applebee's serve a 99-cent bologna sandwich in the same restaurant with a $75 steak? No. People who want a $75 steak wouldn't go in there because of the bologna buzz.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 6:58 am
  #716  
 
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Originally Posted by JC5280 View Post
For the record, UA is attempting to clarify on their Twitter responses that they indeed are NOT charging for bin space. But I am annoyed nonetheless about this. I kind of feel bad for UA, this has turned in to a PR mess. No doubt they will need to address this directly, with a video from Oscar, or new campaign.
There is a case about to go in front of the Supreme Court where a small business owner is suing New York state over a law that prohibits merchants from explicitly adding credit card fees to their prices. Instead, business are only allowed to post the higher gross price and then offer a "cash discount" for people who don't use credit cards. It's a prime example of regulatory capture and crony capitalism where one industry - banks - got the state to pass a law that prohibits business owners from making the banks look bad or negatively affect their (the banks') business.

Notwithstanding the merits of that particular case - there are a lot of onion layers to peel back on the various different arguments - this strikes me as being very similar in logic.

Yes, United really is now charging extra for "perks", one of those being overhead space, because now if you don't book a higher fare class than BE - i.e. if you don't pay extra - you don't get the perks. But they definitely don't want to publicly admit that because that makes them look bad. Too bad they can't get congress or the FAA to pass a law helping them hide their bad publicity.

And, FWIW, I am indifferent. I think ala carte pricing is the most efficient way to deliver goods and services from an economic perspective.

How it actually will affect me personally remains to be seen based on how much more UA is going to charge for these perks. My guess is that if this holds, then the other major airlines will adopt the same policies and then airfares will start to go up across the board. All this is is another layer of price discrimination and discovery. It's their business and they are not obligated to fly me anywhere.

Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
If you could measure a Gini coefficient for an airline I'm sure you'd see it going up for UA. Kinda fascinating.
Agreed. For economics geeks this is kind of a neat experiment. Technology is beginning to allow firms to set prices with layers of precision they could only dream about 20 years ago.

Last edited by cottonmather0; Dec 7, 16 at 7:04 am
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Old Dec 7, 16, 8:06 am
  #717  
 
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Originally Posted by JC5280 View Post

For the record, UA is attempting to clarify on their Twitter responses that they indeed are NOT charging for bin space.
Well, they're trying to clarify the position on a technicality then. It's not that they're charging for bin space, they're not allowing bin space and then charging you to check that bag instead (or charging more in the ticket price to avoid the problem). Effectively the same result, although the consumer can avoid it by not bringing a bag. So they can argue technicalities, but I believe the data will eventually show that people who buy these fares overwhelmingly checked bags.

I don't really pay attention to Twitter, but I have to think people aren't accepting UA's clarification very easily.

Bottom line, as you've said, is they need some real PR to fix this, not some 22 year old's tweeting responses who don't really understand what's happened. Honestly, they should just drop the no carry-on rule, say they listened to their customers, and the rest of the noise will go away quickly.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 8:13 am
  #718  
 
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
Well, they're trying to clarify the position on a technicality then. It's not that they're charging for bin space, they're not allowing bin space and then charging you to check that bag instead (or charging more in the ticket price to avoid the problem). Effectively the same result, although the consumer can avoid it by not bringing a bag. So they can argue technicalities, but I believe the data will eventually show that people who buy these fares overwhelmingly checked bags.

I don't really pay attention to Twitter, but I have to think people aren't accepting UA's clarification very easily.

Bottom line, as you've said, is they need some real PR to fix this, not some 22 year old's tweeting responses who don't really understand what's happened. Honestly, they should just drop the no carry-on rule, say they listened to their customers, and the rest of the noise will go away quickly.
The no-carryon rule is one of the big ways UA was planning to leverage BE to improve operational performance - as it is, nobody in Group 5 gets to bring their bag onboard. With BE, UA doesn't have to waste time gate checking, which will help UA close the door earlier on most flights. I appreciate the fact that UA is setting expectations from the start, instead of surprising pax at boarding with an unexpected wait at the baggage claim. And if UA offered a free checked bag to BE customers, it would defeat the purpose of the BE fare.

I think the big mistake is that UA isn't clarifying that this fare is for limited markets where they're competing with e.g. Spirit. Even if they decide to expand the number of markets later, nobody would remember by then.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 8:19 am
  #719  
 
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Expanding on the Schumer press release, saw this gem on the Denver Post website this morning:

United Airlines will begin charging to use overhead bins in 2017

It's actually an article from the Washington Post.

This is clearly not the headlines United wants or anticipated.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 8:57 am
  #720  
 
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Originally Posted by tods27 View Post
Expanding on the Schumer press release, saw this gem on the Denver Post website this morning:

United Airlines will begin charging to use overhead bins in 2017

It's actually an article from the Washington Post.

This is clearly not the headlines United wants or anticipated.
Thats exactly it, you will see if you do some google searches that just about every media outlet in the country is using the same headline and story. It has spread like wildfire.
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