Basic Economy frequently asked questions

The basics

  • What is Basic Economy?

    United has a fare option called Basic Economy, which is available on select routes. We continue to offer standard United Economy® fares as well. Created for our customers who may be more price-sensitive, the lower-priced Basic Economy fares provide most of the same inflight services and amenities that are available with standard Economy — such as food and beverages, United Wi-Fi℠ and inflight entertainment — but with some important restrictions that you'll want to be sure to review carefully before booking. Please see the Basic Economy page for details on these restrictions

  • Which flights offer Basic Economy fares?

    Basic Economy fares are available on select routes. If available for a particular flight, the Basic Economy option will be displayed on the search results page on united.com and on the "Choose your travel experience" section of the United app.

Seats

  • When purchasing a Basic Economy ticket, you won’t receive a complimentary seat assignment but you may be able to purchase advance seat assignments during booking and up until check-in opens. Economy Plus seats may be purchased at check-in. If you don’t purchase an advance seat assignment, your seat will be automatically assigned to you prior to boarding and you won't be able to change your seat once it's been assigned.

  • With Basic Economy, if you do not purchase advance seat assignments, we're not able to guarantee that your family will be able to sit together. If it's important for your family to sit together, please consider purchasing advance seat assignments, if available, or selecting another fare.

  • If you're traveling on a Basic Economy ticket and don't purchase an advance seat assignment, your seat will be assigned prior to boarding.

  • Customers with Basic Economy tickets are eligible to purchase Economy Plus seating at check-in only. Also, MileagePlus Premier® members won’t be eligible for complimentary Economy Plus seating.

  • Seat assignments can be made for unaccompanied minors. To receive a seat assignment for an unaccompanied minor, please call the United Customer Contact Center after your booking is complete and you have paid the unaccompanied minor fee. See our Children Traveling Alone page for more information about travel for unaccompanied minors.

  • Yes, certain seats are made available to customers with a disability if the request is made at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled flight. Please call the United Customer Contact Center after your booking is complete to receive a seat assignment. We also recommend visiting our Seating Accommodations page for more information.

Check-in

How does the check-in process work with Basic Economy tickets?

For trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights, the check-in process with Basic Economy tickets is the same as for standard Economy tickets.

For all other Basic Economy tickets, you'll only be able to check in for your flight through united.com or the United app if you indicate that you're checking a bag. To check your bag, you'll go to a check-in counter or designated kiosk in the airport lobby. If you begin check-in and do not indicate that you're checking a bag, you'll need to finish checking in for your flight at the airport.

Baggage

  • Your carry-on baggage allowance is the same as for standard Economy tickets if you’re traveling on trans-Pacific flights to and from the U.S., or trans-Atlantic flights (flights to Europe, Africa and the Middle East) to and from the U.S., Mexico and Central America, as well as to and from El Salvador, Panama and South America operated by United and United Express®.

    For all other Basic Economy tickets, you'll be allowed to bring on board one personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag or other small item that is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less. Mobility aids and other assistive devices are also permitted. You will not be allowed a full-sized carry-on bag unless you're a MileagePlus Premier member, a primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance™ Gold member. If you're traveling on a Basic Economy ticket and bring a carry-on bag to the gate, your bag will need to be checked and you'll be required to pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge (payment by credit card only). Please see the Carry-on Baggage page for more information.

  • If you’re traveling on a Basic Economy ticket for a trans-Pacific flight to or from the U.S., you have to check any bags beyond your personal item and full-sized carry-on. Your first standard checked bag is free.

    If you're traveling on a Basic Economy ticket for a trans-Atlantic flight to or from the U.S., Mexico and Central America, or a flight to or from El Salvador, Panama, South America and Tahiti, you will be charged to check any bags beyond your personal item and full-sized carry-on bag.

    On all other flights, if you're traveling on a Basic Economy ticket and bring a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate, your bag will need to checked and you'll be required to pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge (payment by credit card only). MileagePlus Premier members, primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card and Star Alliance Gold members are still allowed a full-sized carry-on bag. Please see the Carry-on Baggage page for more information.

  • On trans-Pacific flights to or from the U.S, your first standard checked bag is free. On trans-Atlantic flights to or from the U.S., Mexico and Central America, or flights to or from El Salvador, Panama, South America, and Tahiti, you will be charged a fee for your first standard checked bag. MileagePlus Premier members, Star Alliance Gold members and qualifying MileagePlus cardmembers who purchase their tickets with their card will receive standard checked bag benefits when checking in with United for flights operated by United or United Express. You may be able to save on checked bag service charges by prepaying for your checked bags online at least 24 hours before your flight. Restrictions may apply. For details, visit our Baggage Information page.

  • Yes, travelers will still be allowed to carry on approved assistive devices in addition to a personal item when traveling on a Basic Economy ticket. You can find a list of these items as well as other items that do not count as a carry-on bag on our Carry-on Baggage page.

  • In the case of customers who purchased a Basic Economy ticket, a small musical instrument may be carried on as long as the instrument can be stowed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of the customer at the time of boarding.

    A larger musical instrument that does not fit in the overhead bin due to its size and is brought to the gate will be checked to your final destination and subject to the applicable checked baggage fees plus a $25 gate handling charge (payment by credit card only).

    View baggage fees

  • For trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights, all travelers with a Basic Economy ticket – even those without a MileagePlus credit card – can bring a full-sized carry-on bag on board.

    For all other flights, if you are a primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card at the time of check-in and you provided your MileagePlus number when purchasing a Basic Economy ticket, you and travel companions on the same reservation will maintain your boarding priority and be allowed to bring a full-sized carry-on bag on board if space permits. The qualifying MileagePlus credit card must be used to purchase the ticket. Qualifying cards are: MileagePlus Explorer Card, MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, MileagePlus Club Card, MileagePlus Club Business Card, Presidential PlusSM Card, Presidential Plus Business Card, MileagePlus Awards Card, Ixe United Universe Card, and Ixe United Card.

Boarding

  • Yes, customers with disabilities and customers who require additional assistance will still be allowed to pre-board. In fact, all customers that are allowed to pre-board today will still be able to pre-board with Basic Economy tickets. Please see our Boarding Process page for more information.
  • Yes, if you are a primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card at the time of check-in and you provided your MileagePlus number when purchasing a Basic Economy ticket, you and travel companions on the same reservation will maintain your boarding priority and be allowed to bring a full-sized carry-on bag on board if space permits.

  • On trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights, your boarding group will vary.

    On all other flights, all customers with a Basic Economy ticket will be in the last boarding group unless they're a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, a primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance Gold member.

Ticket changes and refunds

  • Basic Economy tickets can't be changed once you complete your booking. However, our 24-hour flexible booking policy allows you to cancel a reservation within 24 hours of booking your trip, as long as you completed your purchase one week or more prior to the original scheduled departure flight.

    You can also join the standby list for another flight for free within 24 hours of your original departure time.

    We also offer the option to add United Economy benefits to a Basic Economy ticket for a service charge. This allows you to cancel or make changes to your flight without paying a change fee, and also entitles you to other benefits included with United Economy fares. Visit the Trip Details page to add United Economy benefits to your Basic Economy tickets. Learn more about this option on the Basic Economy page, or read the FAQs about it further down on this page.

  • Basic Economy tickets will not be refunded if you cancel your trip, except as allowed by our 24-hour flexible booking policy.

  • In the event of any changes made by United, such as rebooking due to a cancellation or schedule change, we will rebook you according to our usual rebooking procedures.

  • No, paid seat assignments are nonrefundable. If you end up in an Economy seat that's not similar to the one you purchased, you will automatically be issued a refund.

MileagePlus members and Premier benefits

  • Yes, MileagePlus members will earn award miles for Basic Economy tickets just as they would for standard Economy tickets. See the Earning Miles on United Flights page for more details.

  • MileagePlus members will earn Premier qualifying points (PQP) as well as lifetime miles and accrue toward the four-segment minimum — but note that the accruals will be lower than for other tickets. Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for Premier qualifying flights. MileagePlus members will also earn award miles based on the fare and their MileagePlus status. See the Earning Miles on United Flights page for more details.

  • MileagePlus members, including MileagePlus Premier members, will not earn PQP or other accruals toward Premier status for purchasing a standard Economy seat assignment.

  • Premier members who purchase Basic Economy tickets are subject to most of the Basic Economy restrictions. However, Premier members will receive the same boarding priority as they would receive when traveling on any other fare, and they're always eligible for a full-sized carry-on bag and the complimentary checked baggage allowance they receive with their Premier status.

  • No, all travelers with Basic Economy tickets, including MileagePlus Premier members, will not be able to sit in Economy Plus or the premium cabin without purchasing a seat assignment. This includes complimentary Economy Plus seating, as well as any type of upgrade, including paid upgrades, MileagePlus Upgrade Awards, Complimentary Premier Upgrades and PlusPoints upgrades. Economy Plus seats may be purchased at check-in.

  • All customers with Basic Economy tickets, including Premier members, will be unable to make same-day changes. However, you may stand by for other flights within 24 hours of your original departure time.

  • Customers who purchase a Basic Economy ticket, regardless of Premier level, will not receive a complimentary Economy Plus seat. Economy Plus seats may be purchased at check-in.

  • Our program is changing in 2020, but Basic Economy tickets will still be eligible for partial Premier qualifying credit. For flights departing in 2020, members will earn full Premier qualifying points (PQP) for Basic Economy tickets, inclusive of fare and surcharge if applicable, but will earn no Premier qualifying flights (PQF). For more information about the 2020 Premier program, go to www.mileageplusupdates.com.

Add United Economy benefits

  • Adding United Economy benefits will give you greater flexibility as you travel by removing the restrictions of Basic Economy. With a United Economy ticket, you can:

    • Cancel or change your flight without paying a change fee*
    • Bring one full-size carry-on item on board
    • Receive a complimentary seat assignment prior to check-in
    • Purchase Economy Plus® or premium cabin seats
    • Enjoy select Premier status benefits associated with your Premier status: complimentary access to Economy Plus and preferred seating, Complimentary Premier Upgrades, and the option to upgrade using PlusPoints, as applicable

    *For tickets booked after April 30, 2021. You won’t pay a change fee to change to a new flight of equal or lesser value. If the new flight is a higher fare, you will be charged the difference between the original fare and the new fare.

  • You add United Economy benefits to Basic Economy tickets on select domestic U.S. flights and short-haul flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, unless it was purchased as a bulk fare, an award ticket, or a deeply discounted ticket (unpublished or opaque fares, including but not limited to those booked through priceline.com and Hotwire).

  • After initially purchasing a Basic Economy ticket, customers may add United Economy benefits by visiting the Trip Details page on united.com, or Reservation Details in the United mobile app. Note that the sooner you choose to add Economy benefits, the more seats will be available to you before check-in.

  • The service charge is assessed per passenger per portion of the itinerary (outbound and return, or return only). All passengers on a reservation must opt-in to this change; the itinerary may not combine Basic and Economy fare types. The change will apply to all flights of the outbound and return trip, or all flights of the return trip if the outbound trip has already started or been flown.

  • Mileage accrual and Premier qualifying points (PQP) will be based on the original Basic Economy fare, and no PQP will be earned for the service charge to add Economy benefits to Basic Economy tickets. Premier qualifying flights (PQF) will be earned for flight segments that are completed after Economy benefits have been added.

  • Enjoy select benefits of your Premier status level like Complimentary Premier Upgrades and complimentary access to Economy Plus seating. In addition, Premier qualifying flights (PQF) will be earned for flight segments that are completed after you’ve added Economy benefits to a Basic Economy ticket. However, mileage accrual and Premier qualifying points (PQP) will be based on the original Basic Economy fare, and no PQP will be earned for the service charge to add Economy benefits.

  • The service charge paid to add United Economy benefits to Basic Economy is nonrefundable, unless it is purchased within 24 hours of booking the original ticket.

  • Yes. If you have an eligible ticket type, you may add United Economy benefits for all flights of your return trip, as long as the return trip has not started.

  • If you’d like to add United Economy benefits to Basic Economy and there is more than one person on your reservation, the service charge will apply for each passenger. All passengers on the itinerary must add Economy benefits.

  • Seat assignments purchased prior to adding United Economy benefits will not be refunded. However, you may apply the value of the prior seat purchase to a new seat (Economy Plus or premium cabin upgrade).