No, You’re Not Getting a Deal With United Basic Economy to Europe
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.
Tuesday morning, United loaded basic economy fares for some of its international routes — but they aren’t any lower than what was available yesterday. In fact, they’re exactly the same, as evidenced by some screenshots I captured for the airline’s flight between Newark (EWR) and Paris (CDG).
On one date I searched on Monday, United was offering an “Economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed)” fare for $552 round-trip, a reasonable savings of $135 off the regular coach fare, which includes a checked bag and allows flight changes with a fee.
On Tuesday, that exact same fare now falls under the “Basic Economy” umbrella — it’ll still cost you the same $552 round-trip, but you’re earning half the number of elite-qualifying credits (including Premier Qualifying Miles and Premier Qualifying Segments). You’ll also no longer be able to select a seat in advance without a charge, which means you’re likely to end up stuck in the middle.
Unlike on domestic basic economy flights, transatlantic passengers are still eligible to bring a rolling carry-on bag, and may not necessarily board in the last group. Premier members get a checked bag as well, but are not eligible for complimentary seat assignments, Economy Plus seating, free same-day changes or paid, mileage or certificate upgrades.
Perhaps most frustrating is the fact that, like other US airlines, United continues to suggest that basic economy offers an advantage to customers. With this latest announcement, the airline claims: “We are committed to providing more options for our customers so that they can choose the experience that best fits their needs.” In reality, United’s charging the exact same fares it had just one day prior, while giving customers a far less flexible or rewarding experience.
There’s really no way to spin this as a positive change — while it’s not quite as restrictive as it had been in the past, there’s no question that United basic economy is bad news for consumers.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
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 after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- 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 up to 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 in the U.S., 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 $80 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 PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- 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