Always looking for no-frills flights to get you where you need to be? Starting next year, United Airlines will be introducing its Basic Economy product. The airline alerted investors of its intention to offer a reduced tier of service that is designed to compete with low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines. It was also announced that United will create an international Premium Economy product as part of its initiative to offer a more segmented and choice-filled experience for passengers.
United Airlines isn't the first major airline to segment its cabins to offer a wider variety of prices and experiences for travelers, though, such as Delta's Basic Economy and the upcoming American Airlines equivalent.
Is United's new Basic Economy cabin class something that travelers and members of the MileagePlus frequent flyer program should anticipate with glee? The answer will depend on exactly what you're looking to get out of your tickets. Take some time to learn about the perks and drawbacks you can expect when you purchase Basic Economy tickets.
What Can Customers Expect From United's Basic Economy Class?
United's new Economy cabin options are set to launch in the early part of 2017. Basic Economy flights are anticipated to be offered at much lower rates than United's current tier of cheapest tickets. These tickets are meant to satisfy the needs of price-sensitive travelers who are willing to forgo some perks for the sake of paying less to get where they're going.
One measure that is allowing the airline to offer reduced airfare rates in Basic Economy is a new restriction on baggage. However, there are many aspects of the standard Economy experience that Basic Economy travelers can still look forward to enjoying. Some perks that won't be going away with the introduction of this new cabin class include:
- Personal entertainment device
Boarding will also work a bit differently than you're used to if you opt for Basic Economy in the near future. United has already announced that this cabin class will be boarded last. There will be exceptions on boarding for MileagePlus Premier members, cardholders of qualifying MileagePlus credit cards and Star Alliance Gold members.
Will The Way You Get Seats Change?
Getting tickets for Basic Economy flights will work a little differently than what customers are familiar with. Passengers who opt for Basic Economy tickets will only be assigned seats on the day of departure. Seats will be assigned using an automated process. Even MileagePlus elite customers won't be able to get around this policy.
United has already stated that it cannot guarantee that travelers on the same reservation will be able to sit together. This is definitely something to consider if you're planning to travel with children on future flights on United.
What Does Basic Economy Mean When It Comes To Points?
The verdict is mixed when it comes to using Basic Economy to earn perks as part of United's MileagePlus frequent flyer program. The good news is that tickets booked in Basic Economy will earn MileagePlus award miles. However, these tickets will not contribute toward elite qualification.
It is also important to keep in mind that MileagePlus customers will not be eligible for upgrades to Economy Plus or premium cabins when flying using Basic Economy tickets.