United Airlines is rolling out Basic Economy fares on intercontinental flights, but also loosening some restrictions.
Yesterday, United introduced trans-Atlantic Basic Economy fare on select routes. These vary in three key ways from domestic and shorthaul Basic Economy tickets:
- Customers will be allowed one full-sized carry-on bag and one personal item on board, and will be able to check a bag for an additional fee
- Online and United mobile app check-in are permitted, even without a checked bag
- Customers will not necessarily board in the last boarding group
Complimentary seat assignments will be provided at check-in or at the gate. Seats are also available before check-in for purchase. The onboard experience will be no different than any other customer: passengers will continue to receive the same dining options, Wi-Fi for purchase and inflight entertainment.
Earn Elite Miles On Basic Economy Tickets
In a broader move, all Basic Economy tickets now count towards Premier status. MileagePlus members will earn full Premier qualifying dollars, 50% Premier qualifying miles and 0.5 Premier qualifying segments for each flight, as well as lifetime miles and accrual toward the four-segment minimum.
Award mileage will sill be rewarded based upon fare paid:
MileagePlus elite members (and Chase co-branded credit card holders) remain exempt from the domestic carry-on hand baggage ban and are still ineligible for upgrades. Furthermore, no changes or refunds are permitted on these tickets.
Let’s not forget that Basic Economy is not a new low fare class. Rather, it simply replaced the lowest-priced fare bucket. Still, United smartly realized that if it wanted to sell more of these tickets, it would have to make the experience a little more user-friendly. While I will not be rushing out to buy a Basic Economy ticket anytime soon, at least these changes make such tickets easier to stomach.