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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 25, 17, 6:00 pm
  #1426  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
But once you look at the zero-day market, you really have to ask yourself what UA thinks they're doing. Who is the competition, and who are they fooling?

Code:
-----------------------------------------------------------
Cxr     Basis      BC  Cbn    Price   Tp  AP   Days    Rf
-----------------------------------------------------------
 SY  SXL            S   Y    $222.00  OW                N

 DL  UA0NX0MR       U   Y    $247.00  OW                N
 SY  QXL            Q   Y    $247.00  OW                N
 UA  SAA0ARBN       N   Y    $247.00  OW                N
 UA  SAA0AREN       S   Y    $267.00  OW                N

 DL  KA0UX0MR       K   Y    $296.00  OW                N
 SY  HXL            H   Y    $296.00  OW                N
 UA  WAA0ARBN       N   Y    $296.00  OW                N
 UA  WAA0AREN       W   Y    $316.00  OW                N
thanks for posting, it shows what I was seeing just looking at certain days. Delta stops matching the ULCC's when you get to "business fares" - the kind that people would expect not to get weird rules on, and has a regular Y. United however then makes that same close in business fare an N and tried to upsell everyone.

The result of this is going to (a) the portal filters out United's N fares and as such always shows United to be more expensive, on what are not exactly low fares, (b) the portal does not filter out the UA N, and either (1) the buyer figures out United is trying to rip them off and Delta is a better deal, or (2) fails to recognize that United is selling them a rip-off fare, pays $296 for their OW ticket and gets a nasty surprise at the airport.
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Old Apr 27, 17, 4:43 pm
  #1427  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post

They've since pulled the Y and B one-way fares, but BE is still published up to M, meaning that most business travelers will have the option to purchase it. Many companies are filtering these fares out, but I'm sure there will be some who will not.

If this works well for UA, expect DL and AA to copy it.
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
United: So far no evidence of an advanced purchase requirement and -N fares appear to be in all buckets up to M. So someone on a very expensive ticket can get a -N

So is this where they could be taking 'N' fares and classing them up to look like higher fares, up to M- but if you want to swap the ticket of do moves, it acts like an N?

I just had BE fares come up on .bomb for a trip I was thinking about before going to Concur. (DEN-CVG-DEN) 5/22-25. I'll see if those BE fares forced on me on Concur. On .bomb I went through the buying process for a BE. If I picked a BE outbound I got offered one on return, but if I went standard economy outbound, no BE on the return. The difference $15 per leg. On a $700 ticket???? It didn't let me choose a seat, which I though that a 1K would be able to do?

What a rip off? The miles alone are worth more than the delta in price?

And I really need to understand the BE/N fare basis UP thing. I think this 'fare basis' is going to blow up in the airlines faces. When a F seat isn't. All it takes is some populist pol or state AG that wants to make a name for themselves. I bought tickets through a travel agent and I can't find anything anywhere about fare basis.

ETA: I take that back on fare basis a few clicks in and I found in Concur for that trip:

Flight # 5378 from DEN to CVG
(HAA7AFEN)
Flight # 5311 from CVG to DEN
(EAA0AFEN)

And the funny thing is, with the N fares, they are still $600 higher than F9.

Last edited by PushingTin; Apr 27, 17 at 4:51 pm
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Old Apr 27, 17, 4:56 pm
  #1428  
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Originally Posted by PushingTin View Post
So is this where they could be taking 'N' fares and classing them up to look like higher fares, up to M- but if you want to swap the ticket of do moves, it acts like an N?
Yes, but not relevant, because these tickets are not changeable, including SDC.

Originally Posted by PushingTin View Post
If I picked a BE outbound I got offered one on return, but if I went standard economy outbound, no BE on the return. The difference $15 per leg. On a $700 ticket???? It didn't let me choose a seat, which I though that a 1K would be able to do?
Correct -- BE fares are not combinable with non-BE fares. And, yes, there are no seat assignments. As a 1K, you can board in group 1, and you get a carry-on, but you're not eligible for an upgrade, E+, or a pre-assigned seat.

Originally Posted by PushingTin View Post
And I really need to understand the BE/N fare basis UP thing. I think this 'fare basis' is going to blow up in the airlines faces. When a F seat isn't. All it takes is some populist pol or state AG that wants to make a name for themselves. I bought tickets through a travel agent and I can't find anything anywhere about fare basis.
The fare basis is just the industry term for the specific contract that covers your purchase. Airlines sell many, very similar fares, each with slightly different restrictions; the fare basis is the identifier. Your travel agent can tell you the fare basis, and it was probably provided at some point during the booking process, but it's often obscure. (A united.com purchase includes the fare basis only if you find and click the fare rules link on the summary page; OTAs that I've used are similar). You'll see things like "M-BN" in this thread because all of the BE fares end in 'BN'. On most of United's standard economy fares, the first letter represents the fare class (aka booking class), but the BE fares all book into N. Inventory is managed by an alternate fare class -- M, in this example -- so that the price will stay in line with the standard economy price.

The UP- and /UPDI fares are similar, but mostly seem to have worked themselves out now that almost all domestic first class travel is sold using them. For a while, they caused issues because some agents were interpreting them as 'economy class with an instant upgrade,' which might not be retained during IRROPs, but I don't remember seeing any examples of that recently.

Hope this helps. :-)

PS:
Originally Posted by PushingTin View Post
Flight # 5378 from DEN to CVG
(HAA7AFEN)
Flight # 5311 from CVG to DEN
(EAA0AFEN)

And the funny thing is, with the N fares, they are still $600 higher than F9.
The -EN indicates these are standard economy fares. (The 'N' means 'non-refundable'; it's not related to the 'N' fare class). So, it looks like your employer filters basic economy out.

As for the difference with F9: UA has either already sold a lot of seats on that flight or believes that they can.

Last edited by jsloan; Apr 27, 17 at 4:59 pm Reason: Added response to new quote
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Old Apr 27, 17, 5:05 pm
  #1429  
 
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The comment about F9 was more that their BE fare isn't even close- and I agree, those flights are really full and they are pushing higher fare classes. I don't quite get the logic in a BE fare that is so out of line with LCC competition. Just pull the BE fares.

Thanks for confirming that Concur was filtering BE fares. I thought it was, it's good to know.

And I just went and save $300 by flying through Dayton instead. Plus the UGLs seem to be about 1/3 of the size.
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Old Apr 27, 17, 10:51 pm
  #1430  
 
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Few if any on FT are going to buy BE except by accident - secretary mistake, company forgot to block etc... Anyway It's my understanding that if you buy N, technically you can't later pay the difference to the next available higher fare class. If that is correct that should probably be in the WIKI.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 5:11 am
  #1431  
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Originally Posted by ermintrude View Post
Few if any on FT are going to buy BE except by accident - secretary mistake, company forgot to block etc... Anyway It's my understanding that if you buy N, technically you can't later pay the difference to the next available higher fare class. If that is correct that should probably be in the WIKI.
thats correct. No changes allowed at all, ever, even within 24 hours of purchase (BE is specifically addressed for this on the 24 hour fexible rebooking policy page. Only cancelation allowed within 24 hours (web site insists you need to book at least 7 days before departure - whether that change was enacted in practice, I have no idea).
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Old Apr 28, 17, 5:56 am
  #1432  
 
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Originally Posted by PushingTin View Post
I don't quite get the logic in a BE fare that is so out of line with LCC competition. Just pull the BE fares.
I think this is because you believed the story about UA introducing these fares to compete with the LCC's. The reality is, in many markets where they competed directly, their fares were already competitive. The sole purpose of UA's BE fare, as UA execs have basically stated, is to increase revenue. They accomplish this by either encouraging you to buy up to the next fare class or, if you buy the N, to pay the checked bag fees.

I'm probably wrong, but I don't even recall anyone from UA saying these fares were intended to compete with LCC's. Everything I heard was about giving it's customers "more choice". Yep, you can a) choose to pay more or, b) choose to pay more.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 6:56 am
  #1433  
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
I think this is because you believed the story about UA introducing these fares to compete with the LCC's. The reality is, in many markets where they competed directly, their fares were already competitive. The sole purpose of UA's BE fare, as UA execs have basically stated, is to increase revenue. They accomplish this by either encouraging you to buy up to the next fare class or, if you buy the N, to pay the checked bag fees.

I'm probably wrong, but I don't even recall anyone from UA saying these fares were intended to compete with LCC's. Everything I heard was about giving it's customers "more choice". Yep, you can a) choose to pay more or, b) choose to pay more.
I don't know if they marketed that way either. Clearly, in some markets they will match with these fares, and maybe in others, they won't match. Same as always.

Technically, it is more choice. And mostly, the lowest fares they offer will become N vs. G, K, or whatever (in the markets they offer it). Yes, obviously their aim is to get more revenue, using the methods you describe above.

Yes, they want higher revenue, and this will do that. It will also allow them to compete with the LCCs in the fact that with the extras required, they may feel that they can offer these fares in more markets rather than matching and just losing revenue. I take BE, as well as LCC/ULCC with whopping container of salt. Often, once you add everything in, the LCCs/ULCCs show somethng good upfront, but in the end with the extras, come out the same or more, with fewer benefits (less comfort, pay for bags, even printing BPs at airport, etc.). I'd rather just pay a fare upfront and know that the only other costs I might incur are the true extras - food onboard, etc.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 8:03 am
  #1434  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
The result of this is going to (a) the portal filters out United's N fares and as such always shows United to be more expensive, on what are not exactly low fares, (b) the portal does not filter out the UA N, and either (1) the buyer figures out United is trying to rip them off and Delta is a better deal, or (2) fails to recognize that United is selling them a rip-off fare, pays $296 for their OW ticket and gets a nasty surprise at the airport.
Either UA failed to consider how their fare structure actually plays out in the marketplace, or they think that their customers won't notice. Either way, it's sheer stupidity.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:15 am
  #1435  
 
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
I take BE, as well as LCC/ULCC with whopping container of salt. Often, once you add everything in, the LCCs/ULCCs show somethng good upfront, but in the end with the extras, come out the same or more, with fewer benefits (less comfort, pay for bags, even printing BPs at airport, etc.). I'd rather just pay a fare upfront and know that the only other costs I might incur are the true extras - food onboard, etc.
Yes, fair point. When I wrote they were already competitive, I was referring to the all-in cost not the base fare, but I didn't state that.

And I agree that there's definitely something to be said for the optics of this fare to an unknowing customer. It's why some people, even in this thread, had called BE a good thing for customers, even while most of us, and even elected government officials were calling it out as a money-grubbing, customer-unfriendly play.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:25 am
  #1436  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Either UA failed to consider how their fare structure actually plays out in the marketplace, or they think that their customers won't notice. Either way, it's sheer stupidity.
It's impossible to view pricing as static. You don't set and forget fares: they're constantly monitored and adjusted by software and analysts.

If customer reception (as measured by sales) of the updated fare structure is inconsistent with historic performance, the fare structure will be revised.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:28 am
  #1437  
 
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
I don't know if they marketed that way either. Clearly, in some markets they will match with these fares, and maybe in others, they won't match. Same as always.

Technically, it is more choice. And mostly, the lowest fares they offer will become N vs. G, K, or whatever (in the markets they offer it). Yes, obviously their aim is to get more revenue, using the methods you describe above.

Yes, they want higher revenue, and this will do that. It will also allow them to compete with the LCCs in the fact that with the extras required, they may feel that they can offer these fares in more markets rather than matching and just losing revenue. I take BE, as well as LCC/ULCC with whopping container of salt. Often, once you add everything in, the LCCs/ULCCs show somethng good upfront, but in the end with the extras, come out the same or more, with fewer benefits (less comfort, pay for bags, even printing BPs at airport, etc.). I'd rather just pay a fare upfront and know that the only other costs I might incur are the true extras - food onboard, etc.
Southwest is often as expensive as non BE fares when I look at it. If you get WN's 'business' fares, they are often near F cabin prices on UA. People think WN is cheap, it often isn't- as far as I can tell. F9 I have no sympathy for even before they went full LCC stupid. They would undercut UA on routes by hundreds of dollars. IF you aren't willing to put the time and effort into your pricing model, don't complain about not making money.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:31 am
  #1438  
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Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
It's impossible to view pricing as static. You don't set and forget fares: they're constantly monitored and adjusted by software and analysts.

If customer reception (as measured by sales) of the updated fare structure is inconsistent with historic performance, the fare structure will be revised.
Are you saying it was a good idea to introduce BE fares throughout the economy fare structure, from G all the way up to Y, or are you agreeing it was idiotic?

What UA has continually failed to realize is it's bad business to piss off your customers, especially the ones who are paying top dollar for your product.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:32 am
  #1439  
 
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So how is the carry on limits being enforced? Any one observed this in the field?
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:37 am
  #1440  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Are you saying it was a good idea to introduce BE fares throughout the economy fare structure, from G all the way up to Y, or are you agreeing it was idiotic?

What UA has continually failed to realize is it's bad business to piss off your customers, especially the ones who are paying top dollar for your product.
Personally, I don't care since BE fares are excluded by my corporate travel department and I'm smart enough to avoid them when booking personal travel.

Conceptually, I don't know if the parallel segmentation strategy currently used by United or the tiered-strategy used by Delta make more sense for selling BE. The airlines have access to the data to determine if their respective strategies and pricing are successful. I find it difficult to argue that BE will piss of customers who are paying top dollar for your product: all of the airlines are taking extraordinary steps to disclose the limitations of BE fares and very few, if any, high value corporate accounts are going to require individual travelers purchase a BE fare because if it ~$20 less expensive than a non-BE fare.
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