As a United Airlines MileagePlus Premier member, a few days ago I received an email from United Airlines providing me “awareness” on the new Basic Economy fares. The email notification was focused on making sure Mileage Plus Premier members understood that the Basic Economy fare comes with some heavy restrictions and was created for customers who may be more price-sensitive. In my opinion, the fare restrictions are pretty extreme and in no way worth the savings or inconvenience.
Seat selection and upgrades are not available
You cannot choose your seat and you cannot change your seat once it’s been assigned. The fare is not be eligible for Economy Plus seating purchase or receive Economy Plus subscription benefits. MileagePlus members, including Premier members, cannot use complimentary, earned or mileage upgrades.
This is a huge deal for frequent flyers and Premier members who select seats while making their reservation to ensure they get their desired seat preference and simultaneously request for upgrades when available.
Group and family seating
If you’re traveling in a group, including your family, you will not be able to sit together.
Full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted
Unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or a companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance Gold member, you’re not allowed a full-sized carry-on bag. If you show up at the gate with a carry-on, you will be required to check it in right there, pay the checked bag fee and an additional $25 gate handling fee…..OUCH!
Only one personal item is allowed
You’re only allowed one small personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag or any other item that is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches or less.
No flight changes or refunds
Ticket changes are not allowed with Basic Economy, including advance and same-day changes.
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.
This is a huge deal as most frequent fliers need every dollar, flight, and segment possible to ensure they qualify for their continued current MileagePlus member status.
You will board last
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, you will board last.
Facts that matter to MileagePlus and Premier members
If you’re a MileagePlus member, you will earn award miles based on the fare and your MileagePlus status.
MileagePlus members, including Premier members, will not earn:
- Premier qualifying dollars (PQD)
- Premier qualifying miles (PQM)
- Premier qualifying segments (PQS)
- Lifetime miles
- Toward the four-segment minimum
MileagePlus members, including Premier members, will not receive:
- Complimentary Economy Plus seating
- Paid upgrades
- Mileage upgrades
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades
- Regional Premier Upgrades
- Global Premier Upgrades
If you’re a MileagePlus or Premier member, the Basic Economy fare is definitely not for you. You will be able to apply very few of your benefits and the trip will count for nothing more than award miles based on the fare and your MileagePlus status. Not worth it so stay away!
If you’re a traveler that just needs to get from point A to point B, the Basic Economy fare may be ok. However, keep in mind that you should not expect nothing more than the absolute minimum.
Any time you a book flight, make sure to read the fare rules and restrictions before you book your ticket. It may be worth just booking a standard economy class ticket and avoid the headaches all together.