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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 Apr 5, 17, 8:55 am
  #1291  
 
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Originally Posted by QBK View Post
But if you're a business traveler on OPM, constrained to a corporate TA booking procedure, BE's existence stinks, because you may not have the freedom not to choose it. I'm in this category, and I really dislike the UA model because DL's model generally doesn't offer BE to me and I do not want to have it offered to me because then I might be forced to choose it. Fortunately, my corporate TA is blocking them, but this could change on a whim.
In talking to the travel folks at my company, I have been informed that all BE fares for DL and UA have been blocked due to non-changeability rules associated with those fares. Most of us business travelers frequently need to change flights, extend trips, reschedule trips, etc. etc. BE fares would be a total loss if changes are needed, and with the pricing structure of UA's BE fares, very expensive tickets can land in the BE (N) bucket, and they do not want to risk those tickets being a total loss. Therefore, we cannot book those N fares.... period.

My worries for now have been washed away.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 10:55 am
  #1292  
 
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Originally Posted by QBK View Post
I think one of you guys (spin88/minnyfly) pointed out something early in this argument that's fairly important: how the two (UA/DL) programs appear to you depends on what kind of customer you are. If you are a DL hub captive booking leisure fares, then they look pretty much the same -- no matter whether you look at UA or DL, you see BE fares priced slightly below full-benefits fares, and if you are savvy, you understand that this gives you a choice whether to unbundle or not. (If you aren't savvy, it might appear to be a bait-and-switch, but we're all savvy so this is conjecture about other people).

On the other hand, if you're a business traveler booking 15 days out, then (probably) the programs look very different:
1. Looking at DL, you only see regular economy fares; no sign of BE.
2. United is still offering BE slightly below the (relatively high) regular economy fare.

Whether you see the existence of either carrier's BE fares as good/bad/indifferent really depends on your specific travel patterns. If you are booking with your own money (leisure or self-employed), then the availability of BE is generally good; it gives you options. You might not use them, but ... hey, freedom to choose! Now, UA also seems to have used this as an excuse for a price increase on the cheapest full-benefits fares, but that's a separate issue (though deceptive).

But if you're a business traveler on OPM, constrained to a corporate TA booking procedure, BE's existence stinks, because you may not have the freedom not to choose it. I'm in this category, and I really dislike the UA model because DL's model generally doesn't offer BE to me and I do not want to have it offered to me because then I might be forced to choose it. Fortunately, my corporate TA is blocking them, but this could change on a whim.

I agree that UA and DL are equally guilty of using this as a "bait-and-switch" -- it's not entirely bait-and-switch, since some people will choose to unbundle, but clearly the airlines want to upsell -- but by implementing the fare structure differently, they've chosen to market that product to different audiences.
That was my point, what DL and UA are doing is very different. Delta faced Spirit much earlier than did OALs (in DTW and MSP) and their response was to do BE on the very lowest fare categories.

United however, is implementing BE as an "unbundling" with an up-charge of (in the e.g. give of May 25 MSP-ORD) to Y $15-$5 o/w, on all fare buckets.

The result is that (a) United's fares show up as lower than DL/AA, etcs, since its a BE vs. Y fare, and - at least on Google, for now - (b) all anyone sees in an initial search is the BE fares on UA, not Y fares.

I said UA is doing a bate and switch because this little trick allow them to display lower fares, which on some search engines means their flights come up first. The actual Y fares are not lower, but they look lower, since a BE is displayed.

My guess is that United hopes people fall for this, and to go UA.com, and then pay an upcharge, ending up with the same fare they would have gotten on OAL. That is why I say its really just a bate and switch by United.

Bottom line, there are a lot of dumb people. The average functional IQ is about 90. People are also busy, and not always focused on every detail, assuming things are as they always have been. Some people will not figure out its a BE until they get to the airport and find their relatively expensive Y fare is actually a BE fare...

I am truly surprised this is how United is going about BE fares. My guess is it looked good on a power point ("think of all the people who will click through to UA.com because we are cheaper on the search engine!!") and the spreadsheet jocks left over from the Jeff days can count all this upsell revenue on a spreadsheet. But I think how bad it looks (continuous upsell) combined with people who buy a BE fare w/o knowing it, will cost United more reputationally long term than they gain short term.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 11:32 am
  #1293  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
The result is that (a) United's fares show up as lower than DL/AA, etcs, since its a BE vs. Y fare, and - at least on Google, for now - (b) all anyone sees in an initial search is the BE fares on UA, not Y fares.
Not sure that's just a UA thing, yesterday I was looking for JAX-ATL flights on Google and the only DL fare that was offered was BE which I didn't notice until being redirected to DL.com for the purchase.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 11:48 am
  #1294  
 
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Originally Posted by TomMM View Post
Not sure that's just a UA thing, yesterday I was looking for JAX-ATL flights on Google and the only DL fare that was offered was BE which I didn't notice until being redirected to DL.com for the purchase.
Delta does it, but only on advanced purchase tickets in the lowest fare buckets. United is doing it on fares that no one would every think were a BE. Using the example of MSP-ORD the OP posted about, United has a $370 o/w fare that is a BE.

I have no doubt that there are/have been people who buy a BE on DL and don't know it.... But what United is doing is exposing everyone to it, including people that would not expect the fare they are looking at to be a BE.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 12:07 pm
  #1295  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Delta does it, but only on advanced purchase tickets in the lowest fare buckets. United is doing it on fares that no one would every think were a BE. Using the example of MSP-ORD the OP posted about, United has a $370 o/w fare that is a BE.

I have no doubt that there are/have been people who buy a BE on DL and don't know it.... But what United is doing is exposing everyone to it, including people that would not expect the fare they are looking at to be a BE.
I can buy an E fare on DL for tomorrow's MSP-ORD flights. I can buy it on a T fare a couple days out that's currently the most expensive flight of the day. We don't even know for sure how UA will handle close-in bookings yet. Your claim that UA is doing something fundamentally different is completely made up and erroneous. All they are doing so far is allowing BE on more fare classes. You have nothing.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 2:53 pm
  #1296  
 
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Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
I can buy an E fare on DL for tomorrow's MSP-ORD flights. I can buy it on a T fare a couple days out that's currently the most expensive flight of the day. We don't even know for sure how UA will handle close-in bookings yet. Your claim that UA is doing something fundamentally different is completely made up and erroneous. All they are doing so far is allowing BE on more fare classes. You have nothing.
Delta is Matching the Spirit flights with a BE fare. If you look at other (higher priced) Delta flights e.g. the 5:40 pm, they price out as regular Y.

But you are right, there is no "advanced" purchase requirement, since DL is matching Spirit on the head to head flights when the lower buckets are available.

But looking April 17 the lowest UA fare is $58 o/w and its Y, looking at April 18, its still $58 o/w but is BE, with a $15 upsell offer.

So that (1) shows UA is not limiting these to 14 days, and (2) that it is pure unbundling, offering less with an upsell, for the same price.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 2:53 pm
  #1297  
 
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I honestly do wonder if UA implemented BE on very high fares so business travellers on certain types of policies would be forced to book them. Because no one in their right mind would give up a carry on bag and refundability to save $5. Also, how else does it make sense that the non BE upcharge is less on very high fares.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 3:08 pm
  #1298  
 
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Originally Posted by 1353513636 View Post
I honestly do wonder if UA implemented BE on very high fares so business travellers on certain types of policies would be forced to book them. Because no one in their right mind would give up a carry on bag and refundability to save $5. Also, how else does it make sense that the non BE upcharge is less on very high fares.
My interpretation is that someone in the marketing department wanted a "last seat availability" talking point; revenue management stepped in and said that United would lose its shirt if it made BE fares attractive to business purchasers (read: raised prices on non-BE enough so that people would be tempted), so they compromised with a fare that they don't expect anyone to purchase.

Also, keep in mind that many corporate contracts discount Y, B, M, E fares a lot more than $5. Unless that discount carries through to the BE fare, it's entirely possible that these customers would have to pay more in order to buy BE.

These fares are intended for purchase by the traveling public, not business travelers. UA won't turn down a last-minute CVG-CMI Y-BN traveler, but those aren't their target market.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 4:35 pm
  #1299  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Delta is Matching the Spirit flights with a BE fare. If you look at other (higher priced) Delta flights e.g. the 5:40 pm, they price out as regular Y.

But you are right, there is no "advanced" purchase requirement, since DL is matching Spirit on the head to head flights when the lower buckets are available.

But looking April 17 the lowest UA fare is $58 o/w and its Y, looking at April 18, its still $58 o/w but is BE, with a $15 upsell offer.

So that (1) shows UA is not limiting these to 14 days, and (2) that it is pure unbundling, offering less with an upsell, for the same price.
Let's take another look at MSP-ORD to see what's actually happening, not frabricated conjecture. DL is not price matching Spirit. Really no-one is exactly, but UA and AA (with a standard fare) are commonly matching each other and are usually within $5 of NK. DL's E fare is generally a step higher and the most expensive. It's been that way every time I see a DL E fare. I've never seen them blanket price-match the ULCCs. I've seen them price match SY, but SY isn't a ULCC model, it's a standard economy model.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 5:25 pm
  #1300  
 
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Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
Let's take another look at MSP-ORD to see what's actually happening, not frabricated conjecture. DL is not price matching Spirit. Really no-one is exactly, but UA and AA (with a standard fare) are commonly matching each other and are usually within $5 of NK. DL's E fare is generally a step higher and the most expensive. It's been that way every time I see a DL E fare. I've never seen them blanket price-match the ULCCs. I've seen them price match SY, but SY isn't a ULCC model, it's a standard economy model.
First day UA offers a BE, Spirit is $53, UA/AA are $58, DL is $64. Given NK is 28" pitch in Y, and DL is 31", and Delta (a) gives miles, (b) gives status credit, (c) has a massive market share in MSP, I think they are wise not to match $ for $.

My point remains, United is running BE on high fare bucket flights, Delta is not. Different model and approach. e.g., this Friday, if you want the $185 o/w flight, it is regular economy.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 8:39 am
  #1301  
 
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United Basic Economy - MSP-ORD GONE?

I went to book a ORD-MSP flight today and economy basic appears to be gone? Is anyone else seeing that?
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Old Apr 12, 17, 8:44 am
  #1302  
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I see that as well.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 8:45 am
  #1303  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
I see that as well.
Is this United's first step at disaster recovery?
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Old Apr 12, 17, 8:48 am
  #1304  
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Originally Posted by Bradley Charles View Post
Is this United's first step at disaster recovery?
Well that was my first thought. But with UA IT, you never know.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:25 am
  #1305  
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What are you searching for. Is it possible your itinerary requirements don't meet fare conditions for N class (i.e. advance purchase, etc.)?
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