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How Basic is Economy?

How Basic is Economy?

I have a love-hate relationship with air travel.  I'm always excited to be going somewhere, but find frustration in the logistics.  As a Houston girl, I am a native Continental Airlines patron, which now means now I fly United Airlines.  The love-hate relationship referenced above takes on new meaning as it relates to United... Call me resistant to change, but I just miss the way Continental Airlines did things.  In general I find United to be flexible with the routes I want to fly and on par for rates, but I have become increasingly disappointed with their customer service.  It's something United has worked hard to address, but they haven't quite gotten there.  Which means unless I'm willing to forfeit miles (not gonna happen), I have to suck it up and endure this ride.  

Recently United has made some changes in pricing for economy tickets. Enter "Basic Economy."  I thought I'd research what this is and how it affects me and share it here for those who are also confused about just how much more "basic" can basic be? Below are the "differences" between Regular Economy and Basic Economy as outlined by United Airlines

  • Automated seat assignments will be given at check-in, and passengers acknowledge at the point of a multi-seat purchase that seating together is not guaranteed.
  • Carry-on bags are limited to one personal item, unless the customer is a MileagePlusĀ® PremierĀ® member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star AllianceTM Gold member.
  • There will be no voluntary ticket changes except as stated in the United 24-hour flexible booking policy.
  • MileagePlus program members will earn redeemable award miles; however they will not earn Premier qualifying credit (miles, segments, or dollars), no lifetime miles, and no contribution to four segment minimum.
  • Customers will not be eligible for Economy PlusĀ® or premium cabin upgrades.
  • Customers will board in the last boarding group (currently Group 5) unless a MileagePlus Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance Gold member. 

Breaking all of this down, unless you are a MileagePlus Premier member or have a MileagePlus credit card, you can expect to not only board LAST, but you are also not afforded a standard carry-on bag.  For travelers looking to save a few bucks that don't mind checking luggage and boarding last, this may be a good option.  For active travelers who appreciate the ease associated with assigned boarding lines and availability of overhead storage, this is not for you. Of course this offering is a win for the airline - appearing to offer cheaper fares with the same "perks" of flying economy can only benefit the airline.  Many travelers will jump at the chance to save some money at all costs, even if that means sanity and efficiency.

So what does basic economy provide? A very basic and bare-bones experience.  Happy traveling! 

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