Overview of United Basic Economy Fares

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United Airlines offers Basic Economy fares on many of their routes, which is the cheapest economy fares they sell, however these are loaded with many restrictions and limitations.

It’s important to review all the rules of these fares before purchasing, which include not allowed a carry-on bag, or earning United Premier qualifying miles, which are needed for elite status.

Here’s a rundown of the restrictions associate with United Basic Economy fares:

Complimentary seat selection and upgrades are not available: When you choose a Basic Economy ticket, your complimentary seat will be automatically assigned prior to boarding, and you won’t be able to change your seat once it’s been assigned. Advance seat assignments may be available for purchase during booking and up until check-in opens. You will not be eligible to purchase Economy Plus seating or receive Economy Plus subscription benefits. MileagePlus members, including Premier members, cannot use complimentary, earned or mileage upgrades.

Group and family seating is not available: Please note that customers traveling in a group, including families, will not be able to sit together unless advance seat assignments are purchased and seats are available.

Full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted: You’re not allowed a full-sized carry-on bag unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance Gold member. Everyone else who brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate will be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge.

One personal item is allowed: You are allowed one small personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag or other item that is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less. Mobility aids, assistive devices and medical devices including breast pumps are also permitted.

Flight changes and refunds are not allowed: Ticket changes are not allowed with Basic Economy, including advance and same-day changes. Refunds are not allowed except as stated in the United 24-hour flexible booking policy.

Certain MileagePlus and Premier member benefits are not available: If you’re a MileagePlus member, you will still earn award miles based on the fare and your MileagePlus status. However, MileagePlus members will not earn Premier qualifying credit or lifetime miles or toward the four-segment minimum, and they won’t receive some benefits. See more details below.

Last boarding group: With Basic Economy, you’ll also be in the last boarding group unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance Gold member.

When it comes to pricing, as example a flight from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles for Basic Economy sells for $144, whereas regular economy is $169, a $25 premium. At the end of the day, you have to think if the savings outweighs all the restrictions which these fares have in place, including not allowed a carry-on bag.

Essentially, when purchasing a Basic Economy fare on United, you should have the mindset that you’ll be flying Spirit Airlines due to all these restrictions in place.

Be sure to check out our recent post: Warning Before Booking United Basic Economyif you are considering purchasing one of these fares.

What are your thoughts on United’s new Basic Economy fare? Any tips or strategies you have for when booking these fares?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. For details on current offers visit the card issuer’s site.

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