I don’t usually rant on my blog, use a bit of sarcasm occasionally, but I need to tell you about this latest United pricing scam. At first blush, Basic Economy sounds really good to us older, OK senior, flyers. It seems United is giving us a pricing break. Warning, warning ! On second thought, has United EVER given us seniors a price break ? Hah !
Here’s my story. I’m headed to Las Vegas for a 3 day workshop called, “The Money Show”. I’ve attended before and have gotten some very usable advice on money matters pertaining to dividend bearing stocks. Anyway, I book this amazing Basic Economy non-stop flight from Chicago to Las Vegas, perfect after-noon flight time and great price of $284us. My other choice was Economy at $50 more. So I think I’ve found a winner. Thank you, United. but……Hold on. I have to choose a seat, not unusual, but have to pay $12 to reserve it. Same for the return flight. Otherwise, it’s like having a ticket but no seat and guess who would get kicked off an over-sold flight first. Me ! So, not wanting to get bumped at the airport, I pay for the seat and ticket, now it’s $308 round trip.
However, I failed to completely understand United’s new carry-on policy. There is none. I mean Basic Economy passengers aren’t allowed to board with a full-size carry-on, just a small personal item, purse, briefcase, etc. I’m confused at the language. Does United mean a full size suitcase ? I don’t understand what a full-size carry-on could be. So, I attempt to speak with a customer service person. I’m referred to United’s web site for baggage info. So I log on and find out that, although the FAA allows a carry-on and a personal item, United has eliminated the carry-on item completely unless you have purchased the Economy plan or are a Premier member. No such luck there.
The choice I have now is to stuff as much clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc. into my briefcase or pay $25 to check my carry-on (one way) and retrieve it at the luggage carousal at McCarran airport in Las Vegas. Note: United states that if you show up at check-in with your carry-on, it will be taken from you and put into the checked bag section. Oh, you still pay the $25 baggage fee, but also a $25 admin fee (credit card only). If you don’t pay, you will be bumped from the flight. Now my super cheap flight of $284 will now cost $308 plus $50 for a round-trip baggage check, total so far $358. Sorry I forgot taxes and fees of $48 bringing the final total to $408.
How is this possible ? I know, I shouldn’t have assumed United would be so generous, but really, $408 and that’s their version of Basic Economy. Let’s review. With Economy class you are allowed to bring a carry-on and personal item, and your seats are paid for with your ticket purchase. This is the way I have always traveled. Shame on United to be so money-hungry as to think their loyal customers would stand by for this tactic. I wonder if my seat will be on the wing some where. Gotta pack them in and make more money ! Beware of Basic Economy. It’s not quite the real deal that it appears.