Basic Fares with No Perks Coming to United

United Airlines introduces Basic Economy Fares (Image: United Airlines)

United Airlines introduces Basic Economy Fares (Image: United Airlines)

Following in the footsteps of Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, United Airlines announced that it will begin to sell Basic Economy fares.  Beginning in 2017, United will sell deeply discounted fares with numerous restrictions and fees.

Delta was the first US carrier to announce Basic Economy fares.  These “bare bones” fares were introduced in response to the growing popularity of ultra low-cost carriers like Spirit and Allegiant.  Both Spirit and Allegiant are known for their very low fares and very high fees.  Both ultra low-cost carriers charge for carry-on bags, checked bags, seat assignments, and all on board refreshments.

These no-frill fares are already available for purchase on a variety of Delta Air Lines flights especially in markets in which Delta and Spirit compete.  American Airlines plans to implement basic fares within the next few months.

What Will Basic Economy Look Like on United?

United EconomyUnited Basic Economy
Free Advanced Seat AssignmentNo Advanced Seat Assignment
Some Changes to Tickets AllowedNo Changes to Ticket Allowed
Earn Premier Qualifying Miles and Redeemable Miles Earn Only Redeemable Miles
Eligible for UpgradeNot Eligible for Upgrade
Customers Board Groups 1-4Customers Board Group 5
Partner/Codeshare Flights on Single TicketNo Partner/Codeshare Flights on Single Ticket
Carry-on Bag and Personal ItemPersonal Item Only
1st Check Bag $251st Checked Bag $25

The following information was compiled from information found United Airlines, Link.

United Basic Economy fares are nearly identical to Delta Basic Economy fares.  Additionally, these fares are simply a new fare, not a new cabin.  None of the three US carriers introducing Basic Economy fares have added an additional cabin/class on any of their aircraft.  Passengers that book these deeply discounted fares will be assigned seats in United Economy and possibly Economy Plus if only Economy Plus seats remain at the time of check-in.

United Economy on a Boeing 787 (Image: United Airlines)

United Economy on a Boeing 787 (Image: United Airlines)

United Basic Economy will be available for booking in early 2017.  Discounted fares will debut on select routes, most likely routes between major airports that are currently served by ultra low-cost carriers.


It was only a matter of time before United debuted a basic economy option.  Following in the footsteps of rivals and to compete with ultra low-cost carriers, basic economy is also a positive addition for passengers.  United passengers will soon have the ability to purchase flights at a significantly discounted price though they will have to sacrifice flexibility and  comfort.

What do you think about the announcement?  Will you consider booking a basic economy fare in the future?