United Basic Economy vs Economy: What’s the Best Choice?

United Basic Economy vs Economy

Traveling is always fun, but the cost and staying within budget are always a nuisance.

Everyone wants to get the best deals on flight tickets or hotel rooms. While there are many deals and special offers these days, they always seem to come with a gimmick.

When it comes to plane tickets, it is always an expensive affair.

Every airline seems to have its own set of ‘budget-friendly’ tickets. These tickets are often called economy seats offering the minimum facilities. There are special ticket pricing with different class seating.

Every airline has different pricing on these tickets, which comes with additional privileges and restrictions.

United Airlines fare classes have First Class, Business Class, Economy, and Basic Economy. These different fare classes are priced at different costs.

Those traveling solo or on a budget have the choice to opt for the Economy or Basic Economy classes.

If you’re like most United passengers, you’ll spend the majority of your time comparing United Basic Economy vs Economy .

In this article, we will break down each type of ticket and explain when it’s best to use each one. If you want a more in-depth analysis with examples from United Airlines’ recent changes, keep reading!

Is United Economy the Same as Basic Economy?

With United Airlines, there are two options for Economy tickets: Economy and Basic Economy. Both tickets offer minimal prices as compared to business and first-class tickets. However, there is price and perk differences between the Economy and Basic Economy.

There has always been confusion about the two economy packages. Hence, many customers are confused between the two and often end up frustrated.

What Is Basic Economy on United Airlines?

economy united airlines

Basic Economy is the cheapest ticket available. This ticket provides the basic service of flight with limited perks. You avail only of the transportation facility without the option to even choose a seat preference.

However, these tickets are available only for domestic and short-haul international flights.

These Are the Amenities and Restrictions That Come With Basic Economy:

1.    One person, One personal item

Only one personal item per person is allowed. You are also required to indicate that you’re checking in a bag while booking the ticket via the website, united.com, or the United app.

The personal item allowed also comes with specific size regulations.

It should be small to fit under the seat in front of you or specifically be of the size 17 × 10 × 9″ or less. Carry-ons like purses, laptop bags, shoulder bags are allowed.

Other items like mobility aids, medical and assistive devices are also permitted.

2.    No refunds

If you have to cancel your ticket, be assured that you will be receiving no refund. Unless you are within the 24- hour flexible booking policy, it won’t be refunded.

There are no amenities for flight changes. So, in case you missed a flight or want to change your destination, the tickets once sold are non-transferable or non-refundable.

They also had a no-upgrade policy for Basic Economy fare.

However, United Airlines has made some modifications to their most criticized feature. The basic economy fares are now available for upgrades after purchase.

This can allow the passenger to use their credits for future travels even in case flights are canceled. However, you have to pay a non-refundable upgrade fee. If you are switching back to a cheaper seat, the difference is credited back for future travel on United.

3.    Restriction of Full-Size carry items on specific routes

There is no full-sized carry-on permitted apart from the one personal luggage/ item allowed. The standard allowance of carry-on baggage for basic Economy is the same as Economy.

While United Basic Economic carry-on is included in the ticket fare, the carry-on size must fit in the overhead cabin or the seat storage. This requires you to get your carry-on gate-checked before you board.

You are not allowed a full-sized carry bag unless you are:

·    A MileagePlus Premier member.

·    Star Alliance Gold Member.

·    A companion traveling with the same reservation or a cardmember of MileagePlus Credit Card.

If you are not a cardholder or a member of any of the above mentioned, you are required to check their bag and pay the checking fee. This includes an additional gate handling charge that costs $25.

4.    Seat Selection will cost you extra

If you have booked a basic economy seat, you will be assigned to a seat prior to boarding.

You will not be able to choose a seat of your choice once assigned. You have the option to select a seat of your choice before checking in, but it is not complimentary.

To have access to advanced seat selection in Basic Economy means you will have to shell out a little more to get a seat of your choice. However, you will be able to purchase Economy Plus seating only when checking in.

Group seating is not available, unfortunately. Unless you have paid extra to opt for preferred seats next to each other, it is unlikely that your party will be seated together. While the airline says it tries its best to seat parties with basic economy tickets as close as possible, but this is rarely possible.

Do not expect to be seated together unless seats are booked before checking in. Whether the passengers of the traveling group are family with minors or not, the airline cannot assure that all members will be seated together.

5.    Some MileagePlus and Premier member benefits are not available

If you are a MileagePlus or Premier Member flying with Basic economy tickets, this particular flight will not count as a Premier Qualifying flight.

Nevertheless, as a MileagePlus member, you will still earn a mile-based award on the fare and your full premier qualifying points, lifetime miles and credit towards the four-segment minimum.

6.    Last boarding group

Another downside of Basic Economy is that you will be the last seated. With the exception of MileagePlus Premier members or their traveling companions, primary cardmember of a MileagePlus Credit or Star Alliance Gold member.

7.    Checked Baggage policies

If you purchase Basic Economy tickets, you must pay for the first checked bag for trans-Atlantic flights.

You can still check your bags and pay the service charge when picking up your boarding pass. Basic Economy has the same baggage policies as Economy tickets.

United Travel Options

You can still customize your flight with the United Travels options. These add ons range from Baggage delivery to even adding United economy benefits to your Basic Economy ticket.

What Is Economy on United Airlines?

united fare classes

Standard Economy is slightly more expensive than basic Economy flights but also cheaper than other class fares. This ticket costs a few dollars higher than basic Economy, but it comes with better perks.

Customers are given a wide range of access to different inflight amenities and services. Let’s take a look at them.

1.    No restrictions on the number of personal items

There is no limit on the number of personal items you can carry. However, the things that you take in must fit in the under-seat storage. Personal items must be 17 × 10 × 9″ in size or less.

Passengers can bring in handbags, purses, laptop bags, etc., as personal items. Economy has the same policy as Basic Economy, and medical assistive devices are permitted onboard.

2.    Boarding

When boarding with a United economy ticket, you and your travel companion can maintain your boarding priority. There is no problem with being the last to board the plane. You are also allowed to board with a full-size carry-on if permitted.

3.    Complimentary Seat Selection

With the United Standard Economy, you can choose the seat of your choice at no extra cost. You can avail complimentary seat selection, unlike Basic Economy.

Economy Plus tickets can also be purchased at check-in.

4.    Refunds are available on qualifying tickets

Unlike the Basic Economy, United Economy allows you a refund or a rebook in the event of a cancellation.

With Economy tickets, you have more flexible policies on ticket re-bookings. So, if in case of sudden itinerary changes, you can save yourself the hassle by directly booking an Economy ticket.

One of the benefits of this amenity is that rebooking a ticket also will not incur any extra charges.

5.    Amenities

When you purchase a Standard Economy ticket, you can avail certain amenities which can make your travel better.

6.    Food and beverage

United Airlines has a wide range of in-flight dining and beverage options. It ranges from snack boxes to full-course meals.

Certain flights within North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America can enjoy complimentary foods and beverages and freshly brewed coffee. These complementary foods also include pretzels, snacks, and a choice of cookies.

There is alcohol available for sale on all flights such as beer, wine, and spirits.

While other meals are available for purchase on select flights. These meals range from freshly prepared meals to pre-packed snack boxes.

7.    Entertainment

united airline in flight entertainment

Passengers on United Economy have access to a wide range of free and paid entertainment in-flight. Each flight has different entertainment options; you can check them out at the Inflight Amenities tab on their website or app.

This entertainment includes an Inflight magazine (Hemisphere), United private screening, Direct TV, Audio entertainment, and United Wi-Fi.

United Airline Customers’ Reaction

United Economy vs. Basic Economy

is united economy the same as basic economy

Here is the breakdown between United Economy and Basic Economy.

·    Standard Economy fare costs slightly more than Basic Economy tickets. Basic economy tickets are priced around $20-30.

·    More freedom of luggage capacity in Economy than Basic Economy.

·    Different Liquid Carrying capacity with 25L in Basic Economy and 70L in Economy.

·    You can check-in online or via the app for Economy but not for Basic Economy unless you pay for checked luggage.

·    Economy Plus is available for Economy but not available for Basic Economy.

·    Seating options are available for Economy but not for Basic Economy.

United Economy offers better amenities and services, which come at a slightly higher price. While Basic Economy is a more budget-friendly ticket minus the amenities, it does get you to your destination.

If you are a light, solo traveler with a fixed itinerary, fly Basic Economy is a better option. However, if you are traveling for long hours, upgrading to United Economy is worth the penny.


Is there any difference between the United Basic Economy and United Economy?

Yes, there is a difference in the ticket price, perks, and amenities available between Economy and Basic Economy.

Are Basic Economy available on all flights?

No, Basic Economy is available only for select routes. If available, the option will be displayed on the United website or app.

Can I choose my own seat in Basic Economy?

Yes, you can purchase an advance seat during booking and check-ins, but it will cost you extra. Complimentary seat option is available only for Economy and above.

How much does it cost to choose a seat in Basic Economy?

Booking a seat in basic Economy is free, but to choose a ‘preferred seating’, will cost you an upward of $9.

When will I get an assigned seat in Basic Economy?

Your seat will be assigned prior to boarding if you haven’t purchased any advance seat(s) arrangements.

Can I purchase an Economy Plus Seat with a Basic Economy ticket?

Yes, you can purchase an Economy Plus seat at check-in only.

What if I exceed my carry-on limit in Basic Economy?

A full-sized carry-on needs to be checked for any flights and pay a handling charge and checking fee.

For a trans-Atlantic flight to or from the US, the first standard checked bag is free. This includes a full-sized carry-on.

Star Alliance Gold Members and MileagePlus Premier members are allowed to bring a full-sized carry-on bag.

Are laptop bags/backpacks considered a carry-on in Basic Economy?

Diaper bags, purses, computer bags, and small backpacks are considered personal items. These items should be able to fit in the under-seat storage.

However, large backpacks or those not within the specified acceptable dimensions of personal items are considered full-sized carry-ons.

What are the seating arrangements for an unaccompanied minor?

Seating arrangements can be made for an unaccompanied minor regardless of what ticket he holds. You can receive a seat arrangement for an unaccompanied minor by calling the airlines’ customer contact center. You are also required to pay a small fee for this (unaccompanied minor fee).

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