Travel News

Is United Airlines trying to become more like Spirit?

Alex Cohen Alex Cohen  | 

Just a week ago, United announced that it was rolling out a brand new seat class: Basic Economy. You can read the full page on United's website. Here are the details you need to know.

  • You're only allowed a personal item sized bag
  • Board with the final group
  • No Premier Qualifying Miles are earned
  • Your seat is assigned at check in
  • No upgrades or flight changes

Reading that bullet list out of context, I'd almost think that this was Spirit Airlines - the airline that scored dead last in customer satisfaction.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to most of our travelers, as Delta previously rolled out their "E" class and American Airlines is expected to launch something similar soon. That means that as all of the major airlines "keep up" with the changing flight trends, we're seeing customer value deteriorate quickly.

The only good news about this fare class is that you will still earn United Miles on your flights, starting at 5x the base fare cost depending on which status you are. But, on the flip side, you won't be earning PQMs, so good luck actually earning any status.

My initial thought is that we're going to see the prices for what is currently United Economy become basic economy, and the prices for regular economy are going to increase. We will have to wait and see what fares look like as this new fare class is introduced.

Overall, it sounds like a gimmick for United Airlines to persuade you into purchasing add-ons like seat selection, any sort of baggage, eligible premier qualifying miles and more. Or rather than you get annoyed at each additional fee, you end up just upgrading to the next fare class to avoid the headache.

Alex Cohen

Alex Cohen

I run Birch by day and watch cat videos by night

San Francisco, CA