United Basic Economy Fare Availability Changes

Travel News 12 Apr 2017

The last few years has seen a rise in low cost air carriers competing in both the leisure and business travel industries, creating an incredibly competitive marketplace that has resulted in larger airlines launching new fare categories in order to better compete. In the past year, all three major US carriers (Delta, American, and United) announced these new fares and are in various stages of offering their new product within the marketplace, which they have called Basic Economy.

Basic Economy fares are available on a large number routes but come with heavy travel restrictions – while they are available to purchase for anyone on United.com, they are intended for customers who are more price sensitive and are not really geared towards the business travel segment.

Due to the complexity of adequately displaying the restrictions of United’s Basic Economy fare versus other fares offered in the booking process, FCM has elected to remove them from all airfare purchasing platforms (GDS). Therefore, the fares will not be available to book on our OBTs. Should the travelers wish to secure these fares, they may do so by contacting the agent team to request. Please note the below restrictions apply to these fares and typically will be $15-$25 less than the normal published rates:

  • Seat selection and upgrades are not available
  • Group and family seating is not available.
  • Full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted
  • One personal item is allowed
  • Flight changes and refunds are not allowed
  • Ticket changes are not allowed with Basic Economy, including advance and same-day changes. Refunds are not allowed except as stated in the United 24-hour flexible booking policy.
  • Certain MileagePlus and Premier member benefits are not available
  • If you're a MileagePlus member, you will still earn award miles based on the fare and your MileagePlus status. However, MileagePlus members will not earn Premier qualifying credit or lifetime miles or toward the four-segment minimum, and they won't receive some benefits. 
  • Last boarding group

We are continuously working with our airline partners on the best way to offer all fares and provide guidance on their limitations to travelers before purchasing them. A summary of the differences between United’s Basic Economy vs. Standard Economy is below:


Basic Economy Standard Economy
Choose, change or upgrade seats No Yes
Sit with your group or family No Yes
Travel with a full sized carry on bag No Yes
Change your flight No Yes
MileagePlus® Premier® qualifying cred and lifetime miles No Yes

FCM will continue to work with United and our OBT partners on ways to better display these restrictions within the booking workflow on these tools. As these are third party products, and each airline has their own types of fares and restriction display requirements, this is an on-going process.

If you have any further questions, please contact your Account Manager for more information.