United is introducing basic economy, a cheaper — and worse — fare class below economy. First spotted by The Points Guy, the new offering gets rid of seat assignments and elite-qualifying miles, forbids paid upgrades and flight changes, and bans overhead carry-on bags. But it’s cheaper! So there’s that.
With the carry-on baggage ban you can only bring one personal item onboard like a purse, laptop bag, etc., and United has somehow managed to make its basic economy offering worse than Delta’s which still allows you to carry on luggage. And given how Delta has handled basic economy, I wouldn’t expect United to offer substantially cheaper fares to make up for the lack of amenities. These changes usually result in consumers paying more to maintain their current levels of comfort and flexibility.
United will begin selling basic economy seats at the beginning of 2017, with flights beginning in the second quarter of the year. United’s updated international business class, Polaris, will begin rolling out in December, and the company is exploring premium economy seating as well, in a bid to catch up with American Airlines current and Delta’s upcoming premium economy fares.