Do you Travel for Work? Beware of United’s Basic Economy Class

I recently booked a roundtrip flight on United Airlines from Salt Lake City to Denver for a work event. The flight was purchased online via Expedia.com through the traditional booking method. The flight was booked, credit card charged and confirmation was sent. But hold up a second..

A few days later I received the following email from United:

United Airlines Basic Economy

Wow, what happened here United? I see a few major red flags.

#1 No assigned seating.
I’m a tall guy with a bad back, if I end up sitting in the middle or against the window it’s really bad for my overall health. I always sit on the isle, even if I have to fly in a day early or out a day late. This Basic Economy fare does not allow for special request.

#2 Not allowed to travel with family members.
What about moms and dads traveling with their children, well no guarantees on seat assignments anymore if you book United’s basic economy fair. Or any United fare for that matter as recently a United Airlines Passenger was dragged from his seat on an overbooked flight. Are we rolling the dice everytime we book a ticket as to if the seat will actually be available?

#3 Full size carry on bags are not allowed.
No more taking your roller bag on the plane with you if you happened to purchased the “Basic Economy Fare”. I have to wonder what the size limit is to be considered full size? Does my backpack count, how about a duffel bag?

According to United

You’re allowed a small personal item, such as a shoulder bag, purse or laptop bag or other small item, 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less. Full-sized carry-on bags are not allowed except for MileagePlus® Premier® members, primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, and Star AllianceTM Gold members. Must be a primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card at time of check-in. Mobility aids and other assistive devices are also permitted.

If you’re traveling on a Basic Economy fare and bring a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate, you’ll be subject to the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling service charge. Full-sized carry-on bags are still allowed for MileagePlus Premier members, primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card and Star Alliance Gold members. Payment by credit card only.

Needless to say this new fare and new restrictions is not likely to be well received from United customers. Imagine the ticketed passenger that’s already stressed about traveling, perhaps security lines are long and you barely make it to the gate in time before a ramp agent tells you that you are not going to be able to bring your carry on luggage on board?

If you travel for business perhaps its time to consider alternative methods of travel or at the very least a different airline carrier.


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