United’s Now Charging for Bags on Some Europe Flights — but the Worst Is Yet to Come
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Feeling the pressure from low-cost carriers like Norwegian, Primera Air and WOW, United has quietly introduced a new stripped down fare option for flights to Europe that doesn’t include a free checked bag and doesn’t allow changes or upgrades. Unlike domestic basic economy, this new fare option comes with advance seat assignments, one standard carry-on bag plus one personal item and usual PQM/PQS/PQD earnings — in addition to the usual on board amenities like complimentary food and drinks.
This move didn’t come as much of a surprise since United hinted the introduction of the basic economy fare class for long-haul flights at an investor’s presentation earlier this year. American and Delta both started selling basic economy fares for travel to Europe in April.
Interestingly, United is not actually marketing the new fare as “basic economy” yet, but rather “Economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed).” A United spokesperson described the new fare as “a first step towards a trans-Atlantic Basic Economy product,” so we can assume a fully stripped no-frills product is to come.
Several searches reveal that the price difference between the new fare and standard economy is typically $90, though it wouldn’t be too surprising if the new fare is sometimes more expensive than regular coach.
You won’t be able to tell if you’re looking at this new fare on Google Flights, but like domestic basic economy fares, you’ll come across several warnings during the booking process on United’s site that you’re purchasing the restrictive fare.
Although the checked baggage page on United’s website hasn’t been updated yet to reflect the new fees, you’ll need to pay $60 in each direction to check a bag with the lower fare. Fortunately, there are some ways to get around this. The first checked bag fee for this fare is exempt for the following customers:
- MileagePlus Premier and Star Alliance Gold members
- Qualifying MileagePlus primary credit card members plus one companion on the same reservation
- Members of US military
United claims that the new fare option was “created for those who may be more price-sensitive,” but as we’ve seen with domestic basic economy, it won’t actually mean lower fares.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees