Why United Airlines Basic Economy Tickets Worry Me.

United Airlines has just introduced a new basic economy ticket, which strips away the already bare bone ‘luxuries’ of economy class travel completely, including the use of the overhead bin. This is just another landmark in a worrying race to the bottom for all airlines and it signals a lot of problems ahead for all travellers.

Traveling carry on only is about to get a hell of a lot trickier, or at least more expensive, thanks to a horrendous new ‘basic economy’ ticket that United Airlines are bringing in. Not content with already giving passengers an uncomfortable and often complained about service, they now want to take away all those other little perks you get in economy, you know, like actually wanting to put your bag somewhere.

Some people are wrongly categorizing this as  a ‘fee’ to use the overhead bins on flights, it isn’t. What the new basic economy ticket actually does is not allow customers who buy that ticket use of the overhead bins at all, allowing them to only carry on a small personal bag that can fit under your seat. So you will have to pay to stow your bag, and then only take on a small personal bag on board. It also takes away other so called ‘privileges’ such as being able to choose your own seat and not earning any miles or loyalty points on the tickets.

I don’t think many customers will want loyalty points with United Airlines after this.

I can see where the confusion comes from, after all United are essentially removing services that were once taken for granted, and make no mistake once this becomes the norm and prices are raised, you will have to pay a premium price to get an economy seat where you can stow your carry on bag. Just look what happened with the deplorable policy of ‘premium economy’, what an absolute insult that is, paying extra to be able to fit in your damn seat!

And this is exactly where this idea will lead to. Mark my words. This is exactly why it has me so worried, because once this is implemented across United’s fleet, it will become the norm. Regular economy ticket prices (you know, the ones you are used to now) will rise in price, premium economy will rise even more, and every other airline will start adopting the exact same practice.

A fare class below economy brings a whole new meaning to the term scum class.

I mean how awful an experience do they have to make economy class travel before people actually wake up and say enough is enough? Will it really have to get to the point where they remove seats entirely and force people to stand just so they can fit twice as many people in? Will the air stewardesses charge you a fee every time you need something off them? Will they start charging an ‘oxygen fee’? Why not just put us in stackable coffins in the cargo hold? Maybe I shouldn’t give them ideas.


Now don’t get me wrong, I hate those passengers who abuse the overhead storage bins as much as the next person. Those selfish idiots who bring on luggage that clearly should have been stowed, plus an extra suitcase and half a dozen duty free bags, not to mention all their heavy coats and other clothing are the absolute worst. Especially when they take up an entire rows worth of space or more leaving no room for anyone else! There is a special place in hell reserved for those people right next to the damn recliners. They should be dealt with and airlines do need to get a grip and deal with the problem.

But this is not the way to do it.

This constant race to the bottom is a curse that is affecting most airlines now as even major carriers start to adopt the nickle and diming approach. They are simply charging fees for providing a service that should be included in the already high price of your ticket, or removing services to save money, and I am absolutely sick of it.

This is in no way about the airlines staying afloat or staying competitive. This is about increasing profit at the expense of customers, plain and simple.

Some commentators are actually hailing this as a good idea, from a business point of view at least. That may be technically true because adding on extra fees whilst cutting services does bump up the bottom line, but the big problem is that it may be profitable but it treats customers – once again – with absolute contempt.

Losing already shaky customer loyalty is never a good idea.

What Airlines should be doing is making the economy experience better, nicer for passengers. We’re not asking all that much really, just the ability to sit in our seats comfortably without having our legs amputated, the ability to put our bags in a space specifically allocated to the seat we are sitting in. Not being charged extra for every single little thing that the airlines can think of.

Instead of concentrating on turning first class into an exclusive spa experience on every flight, what about putting a little bit of thought into the majority of the people who are flying on your planes every day?

Passengers do occasionally push back though, even the loudmouthed, money grabbing little hobgoblin Michael O Leary of Ryanair was force to back down from his moronic ‘pay to pee’ idea.

And that is exactly what needs to happen here. I urge all of you to be vocal in your distaste for this but more importantly vote with your wallets. Don’t fly basic economy or even better still, don’t fly United at all. They are an awful airline anyway so you aren’t missing much!

Airlines need to be told there is a line in the sand, and this time they aren’t crossing it.

What do you think? Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or please join in the discussion on my Facebook or Twitter pages on this important topic, and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons and spread the word.

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Is It Time Airlines Banned Reclining Seats Completely?

Is The United Airlines PR debacle A Line In The Sand For Passenger Rights?

Should Ryanair Lose Their License To Operate?

The 10 Most Annoying Things About Flying.

The Truth About Airline Compensation Claims.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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40 comments on “Why United Airlines Basic Economy Tickets Worry Me.
  1. Llewellyn Moreland says:

    You are exactly right, the only way they will get away with this is if people let them. If people buy those seats they will be giving their tacit approval and this will become standard. Even Ryanair was forced to concede that people actually need to bring luggage with them when they fly and increase the allowed size of their carry on.

  2. Peter says:

    But surely if they are allocating a certain number of seats to be ‘basic economy’, and therefore taking away from the total number of normal economy seats, then when the normal economy gets full they are essentially forcing people to buy their basic economy anyway regardless of wether they like the conditions or not?

  3. Jennifer Williams says:

    This is just horrendous! United are a horrible airline anyway and I was very unlikely to fly with them before this. I definitely never will now!

  4. Aubrey says:

    This is so typical,airlines just keep making things worse and worse in economy.

  5. Gail says:

    You are right, this will set a horrible preceent and everyone will follow suit when they realise they can save/makemoney from it. Absolutely disgusting airline!

  6. John Schumer says:

    It’s like airlines are constantly trying to hit passengers with worse and worse punishments unless they pay up. It has to stop.

    • It really does, I’m not a big believer in givernments stepping in but there really should be some industry limits imposed on how bad they can make the flying experience for us. The whole industry is ripe for severe regulation.

  7. Carl says:

    Looks like I’m avoiding United whenever possible. And when everyone else brings these fees in even those damn Total Recall scanners will struggle to scan me under all the layers and pocket vests I’ll be wearing!

  8. Sandra says:

    What really annoys me (on top of everything) is the way they try and spin this as a good thing, like its all for our benefit!

  9. Although I don’t and have never flown on United Airlines, I would say that this is ridiculous.

  10. Stacey King Wolfe says:

    I hate United with a passion, they have never had good service every time I have flown with them and this is just making it even worse. It is profiteering plain and simple, they should be ashamed.

  11. Robert Mitchell says:

    It’s good to see people speaking out against this, I am tired of seeing the constant erosion of so called ‘comforts’ on flights, there has to be a point where the government or a regulator steps in.

  12. Daniel Hirst says:

    So tired of these airlines. United won’t be getting my money. If I wanted to put up with budget airline crap I’d book a budget airline!

  13. Adam says:

    To be fair they say they are doing it to compete with the budget airlines. How will they do that otherwise?

    • This is an absolute crock, they are doing it to increase profits and save money, plain and simple. Major carriers don’t need to compete with budget airlines, there is room for both in the industry.

  14. Debs says:

    I’m with you on this, I fly a lot, obviously on economy because like most people I just can’t afford business or especially first class, and it makes me so angry that they just make things worse and worse for us but are constantly making first class better! Talk about the divide between the rich and poor!

  15. Freya says:

    They really just want to make things worse and worse for anyone flying coach. As if most people can afford the ridiculous 1st class prices.

  16. Nic says:

    Why not just start charging per item inside the bags, take out the seats altogether, cram twice as many people in and charge for the privelige of breathing their air as well?

  17. maninahuff says:

    I’m with you all the way on this, these airlines need seriously regulating, now. They cannot just keep eroding conditions. And it really makes me angry when they try and pass it off as if they are doing us the favour!

  18. Helen Nicholson says:

    Oh god, how soon before all the other airlines follow suit?

  19. Mark says:

    I’m really with you on this. I’m sick of airlines treating us like cattle.

  20. Olivia says:

    I think the airlines need to be regulated far more heavily with international sanctions for not meeting standards. I normally don’t agree with governents stepping in on busineses, but surely there should be something done about squeezing too many people into too short a space, I mean they already have extensive safety standards, why can’t this just be added to it?

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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