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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 28, 17, 9:44 am
  #1441  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Originally Posted by cyclogenesis View Post
So how is the carry on limits being enforced? Any one observed this in the field?
As someone already mentioned the only routes active right now are out of MSP, and anyone with a brain would probably be flying Delta anyway. Likely more reports in late May or June or this when there are more flights to observe the process.

I'd imagine there are some who will sneak in with higher groups and GA's will not turn them away (out of ignorance or avoidance of confrontation).
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Old Apr 28, 17, 11:29 am
  #1442  
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Originally Posted by PushingTin View Post
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.
When I lived in Chicago 10 years ago, WN was rarely cheaper than UA, DL, AA, etc (and for me, they were less convenient since I lived in the near north suburbs, so having to fly to MDW was already less convenient). They're living on perception from the years prior, and are able to keep that perception in large part because they don't offer fares through a GDS, meaning those going to online portals will never see WN fares next to other carriers. Folks also see the no bag fees, and then no change fees (which while technically true, if you are on a lower fare, you're likely to have to pay a fare difference, while it happens less of the time, IMO, on legacies).
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Old Apr 28, 17, 11:49 am
  #1443  
 
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
When I lived in Chicago 10 years ago, WN was rarely cheaper than UA, DL, AA, etc (and for me, they were less convenient since I lived in the near north suburbs, so having to fly to MDW was already less convenient). They're living on perception from the years prior, and are able to keep that perception in large part because they don't offer fares through a GDS, meaning those going to online portals will never see WN fares next to other carriers. Folks also see the no bag fees, and then no change fees (which while technically true, if you are on a lower fare, you're likely to have to pay a fare difference, while it happens less of the time, IMO, on legacies).
Totally true. WN has not been a LCC (at least out of Chicago) in a long time. The only thing LCC about it is their service -- no assigned seats, no F, no meals, etc.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 3:19 pm
  #1444  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
When I lived in Chicago 10 years ago, WN was rarely cheaper than UA, DL, AA, etc (and for me, they were less convenient since I lived in the near north suburbs, so having to fly to MDW was already less convenient). They're living on perception from the years prior, and are able to keep that perception in large part because they don't offer fares through a GDS, meaning those going to online portals will never see WN fares next to other carriers. Folks also see the no bag fees, and then no change fees (which while technically true, if you are on a lower fare, you're likely to have to pay a fare difference, while it happens less of the time, IMO, on legacies).
WN's prices are often at least 1.5x to 2x the lowest price of the legacies from what I've seen out of MDW now. Though there are some deals on WN to be had, sometimes.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 5:41 pm
  #1445  
 
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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.
I am going with "failed to think it through to consider negative customer reaction" which has been the MO since 2012.

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.
I have no doubt they will just look at sales, but the point I am making is that it fundementally impacts how United's fares are viewed, and also how the brand is viewed when United offers a high priced BE fare, and people either figure it out with the upsell effort (and feel ripped off) or are busy and miss the disclosure, since they don't expect funky rules with a $300-400-500, on the case of an earlier poster at $700+ fare, and get really

Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
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.
exactly. the extra $10 in upsell is not worse the (a) potential loss of a sale, or worse (b) the potential loss of a customer, both of which are likely to go with very bad (c) NPS.

Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
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.
I think you fail to understand (a) how some people don't read/understand the details and (b) how busy people are. IMHO most people are opperating about 90% of the time on expectation, not actually looking at the details.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 7:38 pm
  #1446  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
I have no doubt they will just look at sales, but the point I am making is that it fundementally impacts how United's fares are viewed, and also how the brand is viewed when United offers a high priced BE fare, and people either figure it out with the upsell effort (and feel ripped off) or are busy and miss the disclosure, since they don't expect funky rules with a $300-400-500, on the case of an earlier poster at $700+ fare, and get really

I think you fail to understand (a) how some people don't read/understand the details and (b) how busy people are. IMHO most people are opperating about 90% of the time on expectation, not actually looking at the details.
Two questions: if United sees no degradation in sales or yields following introduction of BE fares, is their brand negatively impacted? Second, what more could United do to set expectations for BE fares - e.g. a second pop up, another check box, a bigger orange call out?
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Old Apr 28, 17, 8:05 pm
  #1447  
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Originally Posted by cyclogenesis View Post
So how is the carry on limits being enforced? Any one observed this in the field?
Flew MSP-DEN on Wednesday. Based on the GA's announcement, it appeared that Group 5 consisted entirely of BE passengers.

When Group 5 was called, they rolled out one of those wood chippers and any non-personal item was pulverized on the spot. Made a big mess at the gate.

Seriously, Group 5 consisted of only BE folks, so it would be easy to monitor their carryons.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:06 pm
  #1448  
 
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But, what actually happened at the gate?

Originally Posted by Bonehead View Post
Flew MSP-DEN on Wednesday. Based on the GA's announcement, it appeared that Group 5 consisted entirely of BE passengers.

When Group 5 was called, they rolled out one of those wood chippers and any non-personal item was pulverized on the spot. Made a big mess at the gate.

Seriously, Group 5 consisted of only BE folks, so it would be easy to monitor their carryons.
We're still waiting to hear how BE boarding goes!! Did 100% of BE customers have only a "personal item?" I guess the problem is that all FTers have always already boarded, so there are no observers!
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Old Apr 28, 17, 10:36 pm
  #1449  
 
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Noticed they are selling basic economy seats on EWR-FLL
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Old Apr 29, 17, 6:56 am
  #1450  
 
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Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
Second, what more could United do to set expectations for BE fares?
Sell BE at low fares only. If my fare cost $59, I won't expect much and will expect LCC-like rules and treatment. If my fare cost $700, I won't tolerate BE-like restrictions.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 6:59 am
  #1451  
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Originally Posted by cyclogenesis View Post
So how is the carry on limits being enforced? Any one observed this in the field?
Last boarding group doesn't get to bring a bag on. Pretty easy setup for everyone.

Originally Posted by JBord View Post
Totally true. WN has not been a LCC (at least out of Chicago) in a long time.
LCC is a back-end designation, not a fare designation. And, quite frankly, it is an antiquated term that offers minimal value in the current operational environment. WN should probably even be considered a network carrier these days given its mostly hub structure and connecting passenger flow.
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Delta: Limited markets, matching ULCC (mostly spirit) fares.
This is demonstrably false. Delta announced several times that the goal was to roll these fares out across the domestic network and it is doing precisely that.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 7:45 am
  #1452  
 
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Last boarding group doesn't get to bring a bag on. Pretty easy setup for everyone.
But people in groups 1-4 can commingle with group 5 if they choose.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 8:15 am
  #1453  
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
But people in groups 1-4 can commingle with group 5 if they choose.
And, assuming the GA hasn't started gate-checking everything at that point anyways they can show that their boarding group number on the BP is one that permits the bag on board.

But, as a general rule, the program was set up to have the final boarding group be Basic Economy pax and not get to bring bags on board.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 10:42 am
  #1454  
 
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
Sell BE at low fares only. If my fare cost $59, I won't expect much and will expect LCC-like rules and treatment. If my fare cost $700, I won't tolerate BE-like restrictions.
If you won't tolerate it, then don't buy the fare. Some people will find value in BE even at higher fares. I know I can see it being a very viable option for me under some circumstances. I don't want that choice going away just because of the time I book or the type of fare available. That's just dumb.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 11:41 am
  #1455  
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It will be interesting to hear some practical examples of the boarding process at MSP to learn how GA's are administering the BE issue.

Practically speaking, those boarding at the end of the process most often are required to gate check anyway, so this likely won't change much. I also know that when a GS seated in F turns up at the last minute, most often best efforts are made to find space for a carry-on. But, if the space is gone, it's gone.

For all the rants here, the fact remains that OH space is a zero-sum game. If you travel on other than a BE ticket or have status, the more BE passengers, the better for you.
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