United recently announced a budget fair called Economy basic. This is a fare below normal Economy. It has these basic differences:
NO SEAT CHOICE: you can’t pick your seat ahead of time. You are basically flying stand-by. No seat is guaranteed for you.
NO CARRY-ON BAGS: You can only carry on a purse, laptop bag or backpack. No more roll-ons for you! If you want to carry your life possessions on this fare is not for you.
NO TICKET CHANGES: You cannot change or get a refund with this ticket. This may or may not be a big deal for you based on how solid your travel plans are.
NO ELITE QUALIFYING CREDIT: You will not add to your MileagePlus mileage accrual nor will this flight get you closer to your next status milestone. If you don’t have status and don’t frequently fly this may be of no consequence to you.
The bottom line is that this is where the industry is heading. You will see a similar class of service at Delta. American just announced something similar.
I am very critical of United but believe this is a great move. It is frustrating to fight for overhead space when you only carry a medium sized laptop bag. You have passengers often carrying on four or so items. This will not solve United’s poor management of this, but it is a step in the right direction.
An interesting side thought to this new fare is the corporate passenger. If corporate policies force employees to take the lowest fares, employees will be forced to get the basic economy. The corporate passengers will not get MileagePlus mileage and will eventually loose their status. Without airline status, it is my belief that corporate flyers will become airline agnostic, fly the lowest fare and not give preference to the airline that they dont have status on. What do you think?