United Releases Next Batch of Basic Economy Routes
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Update 4/19/17 3:22pm: United has confirmed that Basic Economy is now on sale in more than 100 domestic markets. So if you haven't spotted this fare yet, there's a very good chance you'll see it pop up soon.
When United Airlines first detailed its new Basic Economy fares in November 2016, travelers prepared to trade amenities and mileage earning for lower fares — that hasn't exactly panned out.
When the Chicago-based carrier announced the first flights that would feature Basic Economy fares, they were all on nonstop routes between Minneapolis (MSP) and some United hubs, such as Denver (DEN). Now, there's a new slew of United Basic Economy routes.
The new BE fares appear on many leisure routes between United hubs and other cities for travel dates beginning May 9, 2017. We've reached out to United to clarify which routes now feature a Basic Economy option, but we have yet to hear back. For all of the new routes we've found, the maximum savings you'll get on every ticket from the next-lowest economy fare is exactly $15 (with the exception of one — $28 on EWR-MIA).
Here are some examples of where we've found the BE fare now being offered. Note that this isn't an exhaustive list — we'll update this post with additional routes once we hear back from United:
Newark (EWR) to Orlando (MCO)
Chicago (ORD) to Denver (DEN)
Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Orlando (MCO)
Denver (DEN) to Houston (IAH)
San Francisco (SFO) to Orlando (MCO)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Chicago (ORD)
Newark (EWR) to Miami (MIA)
Whether or not saving $15 (or a little more) for booking one of these BE tickets is worth it is up for debate and could entirely depend on the traveler and your preferences.
As a reminder, a United Basic Economy ticket doesn't allow you to get an advance seat assignment and offers no ticket changes, no refunds (except for the Department of Transportation-mandated 24-hour refund rule), no elite mileage earning, elite segment earning or elite dollar earning and no eligibility for upgrades. In addition, BE fares get Group 5 boarding and only one carry-on item that fits the size requirements of a personal item (no roller bags). However, those last two rules are waived for elite flyers and those with the United MileagePlus Explorer Card or the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card.
As a reminder, Google Flights will tell you if you're selecting a Basic Economy fare. When you search for and select a fare, you'll see a notification from Google Flights that carry-on baggage is limited:
These Basic Economy fares, which are now offered on all three of the domestic legacy carriers, are meant to compete with low-cost carriers such as Spirit and Frontier. Be sure to check your options, as even though these are labeled BE fares, they may not be less expensive than the low-cost carrier options. And with the added charges that can come with a BE fare, you might not be better off booking one of these tickets. Only time will tell if the legacy carriers will lower their pricing enough to be comparable with low-cost-carrier options, but customers should be aware of what they're getting for the price they pay.
Have you purchased a United Basic Economy fare?