We at TravelPlex feel it is important, and actually part of our job in managing corporate travel programs, to inform our clients of any industry changing events. A few months ago we alerted our clients of Delta Airlines' new restrictive “E Fares”. While these new fares offered a slight savings (roughly $30 - $50 per roundtrip ticket), they were extremely limiting in what travelers could and couldn’t do, such as change or cancel the flight(s). Also, middle row seats assignments were the norm, and other limitations are being imposed on traveler services, such as carry-on luggage not being allowed in overhead bins. Indications point towards frequent flyer points being removed from these fares as well. All of TravelPlex’s 100+ corporate clients asked that we restrict showing these fares to their travelers.

We have just been informed that starting January 1, 2017, United Airlines will be replicating Delta’s limited fares, known as United’s Basic Economy Fares. While these fares will be offered in January, they will be effective for flights starting in the second quarter next year. Below are bullet points of the new faring rules:

UA’s Basic Economy Fares have similar restrictions, including;

  • Automated seat assignments (middle seats?), 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 or the primary cardholder of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card.
  • There will be no voluntary ticket changes
  •  MileagePlus program members will earn redeemable award miles; however, they will not earn Premier qualifying credit, 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).
  •  No combinability with regular economy fares or partner carriers. Interline travel is not permitted.
  •  The fares are 100% non-refundable. The current $200 change fee is not applicable to these fares, as the ticket will have no value if not used for the specific flight / date.
  •  Initially in limited markets, but will spread system wide by mid-2017.
  •  And finally,…. travelers will be restricted to a single personal item that must fit under the seat.

Like the Delta E Fares, TravelPlex will be unable to intercede on the traveler’s behalf should these new fares be purchased. That means should any issue arise, including any emergency (after hour) needs/changes, the ticket will be worthless. 

Click here to read a Business Travel News article about United Airlines' new fares