American and Delta already offer highly restricted basic economy fares on Transatlantic routes, but United just launched their own version of it last week.
The good news is that United isn’t calling their restricted fare basic economy. United basic economy means that you can’t select a seat, change your flight, bring a large carry-on, get an upgrade, collect premier qualifying miles. They also board last.
Having a United credit card gets you out of most of those restrictions, it allows you to check a free bag, bring a large carry-on bag, and get priority boarding. However even cardholders can’t select a seat, change a flight, select an economy plus seat, get an upgrade, or collect premier qualifying miles.
United’s new Transatlantic offering only takes away the free checked bag and makes tickets non-changeable or upgradeable. You can still select a seat, bring a large carry-on, select an economy plus seat, collect premier qualifying miles, and you won’t board last.
If you have a United Explorer card or United Silver you’ll continue to get a free checked bag. If you have a United Club card or Star Alliance Gold you’ll continue to get 2 free bags. If you have United Platinum or higher you’ll still get 3 free bags. The only difference for any of these travelers is that the ticket won’t be changeable or upgradeable to business class.
The difference between the new restricted economy fare from Newark to Paris is $90 round-trip:
United doesn’t offer this restricted fare outside of Europe yet, so transatlantic flights to Tel Aviv are still safe for now.
The question is will United still launch a basic Transatlantic economy fare to match American and Delta? Or will this be enough to incentivize travelers to pay a higher fare without as much “punishment” to those who don’t opt to pay more? Could there be 2 levels of basic economy in the future?