Ultra low cost carriers have brought new options for travelers who are just looking to get from point A to point B without emptying their wallets. Airlines such as Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant offer prices that sometimes look like error fares and their constantly adding new routes. In order to offer such low prices, they cut corners everywhere and charge for most things that you’d expect for free on full-service airlines.
These full-service airlines are trying to fight back. United Airlines is attempting to woo budget airlines’ passengers with new “Basic Economy” fares that will go on sale early next year. While Basic Economy fares have some important, additional restrictions compared to standard economy fares, customers will still fly in the same United Economy cabin with the same dining options, Wi-Fi and inflight entertainment.
However, the following differences do apply:
- Automated seat assignments will be given at check-in, and passengers acknowledge at the point of a multi-seat purchase that seating together is not guaranteed.
- Carry-on bags are limited to one personal item, unless the customer is a MileagePlus Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance Gold member.
- There will be no voluntary ticket changes except as stated in the United 24-hour flexible booking policy.
- MileagePlus program members will earn redeemable award miles; however they will not earn Premier qualifying credit (miles, segments, or dollars), no lifetime miles, and no contribution to four segment minimum.
- Customers will not be eligible for Economy Plus or premium cabin upgrades.
- Customers will board in the last boarding group (currently Group 5) unless a MileagePlus Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance Gold member.
- No combinability with regular economy fares or partner carriers. Interline travel is not permitted.
As you can see, there’s a lot of negatives that come with these fares, but they’re targeting people that most likely are just trying to save money and don’t really care about some of this stuff.
Basic Economy fares will be available in select markets starting in 2017, but it’s not clear how much these fares will cost. Read more here.