What is United Economy Vs Basic Economy

The basic difference between the United Economy Vs Basic Economy is with the fares on flights, carry-on restrictions, eligibility for refunds, extra legroom, seat selection, and baggage allowances. United Airlines’ level of service for customers varies according to the class of the tickets booked.

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines operating many domestic and international flight services on six inhabited continents and across the United States. This guide will help you to know what is United Economy vs Basic Economy.

The Difference: United Economy Vs Basic Economy

United Economy Vs Basic Economy Differences 

Basic Economy don’t provide selection for the seats and is not eligible for refunds. Economy Plus tickets provides extra legrooms to the passengers with standard economy seats. The standard economy ticket will include seat selection and free carry-on.

The airline offers its passengers seven types of different classes of service to allow them to choose their kind of seat, in-flight amenities, and airport services for a safe United Airline. United Airlines has restricted its basic economy tickets to full-sized carry-ons. All three economy class passengers are charged for the checked bags on domestic flights. 

  1. United Basic Economy
  2. United First(Domestic)
  3. United Business( Latin America, transcontinental domestic, and Caribbean). 
  4. United Premium Plus ( Premium Economy)
  5. United Economy Plus
  6. United Economy. 
  7. United Polaris.

Multiple Ticketing Options  

United Airlines offers standard fare options for a primary U.S. carrier. However, due to competition from budget airlines, the airlines now offer a Basic Economy fare that only includes a seat on the plane. The Basic Economy option is helpful for travellers who don’t need to bring much luggage, as it doesn’t cover standard carry-on or checked baggage. If you are United’s frequent flyer program member, you won’t be able to earn premier qualifying miles towards elite status if you book a ticket at this fare. 

The Different Ticketing options within flight amenities are covered below

1. Basic Economy: Basic Economy is the most restrictive fare option, and you can get a pre-assigned seat before boarding. However, you cannot choose to sit with family or a group. You must also pay an additional $120 for your first checked bag (round-trip). Upgrades are not available, and changes or refunds are not permitted.

2. Economy (standard): This option allows you to select your seat when booking (if available). You can also customise your booking with other options.

3.  Economy (flexible): This option offers a refundable ticket on United Airlines (subject to cancellation fees). You can select your seat when booking (if available). You can also customise your booking with other options.

4. Premium Plus: This option offers spacious and more extensive seating with extra legroom. You also get complimentary food and beverage and can customize your booking with other options.

5. Business: This option offers spacious and more extensive seating with extra legroom. You also get enhanced dining with complimentary food and beverage.

Offers in Basic Economy Vs Economy and Economy Plus

The below table shows the difference between the services offered to United Airlines passengers at three different economy-level air travel offerings. Apart from the services offered at United Economy Vs Basic Economy classes, you can also check out their premium and premium plus services on long-haul international routes with many advanced features and amenities. 

Ticket TypeBasic EconomyEconomyEconomy Plus
Checked bags (domestic)Starting at $35 (prepaid) for your first bag.Starting at $35 (prepaid) for your first bag.Starting at $35 (prepaid) for your first bag.
Overhead carry-on bagFree on transatlantic and transpacific flights; otherwise not allowed.Free.Free.
Seat assignmentsSeats are assigned to you.You can choose your seats for free.You can choose your seats for free, located in the front section of economy.
Qualifies for elite benefits (including upgrades)Earns Premier Qualifying Points, but flights do not count as Premier Qualifying Flights. No upgrades.Yes.Yes.
Flight changes allowedNo.Yes.Yes.
Earns MileagePlus milesYes.Yes.Yes.
Boarding group (out of 5 groups),Last (Group 5).Groups 3 through 5.Groups 3 through 5.
SeatStandard economy seat.Standard economy seat.Economy seat with extra legroom

United Airlines Amenities in Economy Class 

United Airlines Amenities in Economy Class 

In Economy class, you can choose between United Basic Economy vs Economy and Economy Plus amenities. Here is a breakdown of what each option includes:

Basic Economy vs Standard Economy

Basic Economy / Standard Economy
  • For domestic flights and those to/from the Caribbean and Latin America, passengers are provided with free soft drinks, including illy coffee.
  • Passengers also have the option to purchase snacks, meals, and alcoholic beverages during the flight.
  • During international flights, customers will receive free food and drinks, which include house beer and wine. 
  • United Wi-Fi is available but requires a fee. 
  • The entertainment options may differ depending on the aircraft, but you can find more information about it on the Inflight Amenities page located on the United Flight Status page.

United Airlines Amenities in Economy Plus

Economy Plus fares provides extra legroom and quicker disembarkation to the passengers. The seats are nearer to the front of the plane. Passengers can also earn Premier qualifying dollars, and enjoy all the economy benefits.

Refund and Changes Policy

If you choose a Basic Economy fare, you can make changes or request a refund within the first 24 hours of purchasing your ticket. However, after this period, you won’t be able to make any changes to your flight. You can still buy a seat or add an extra checked bag. The rules for changes and refunds are the same for both Basic Economy and Economy tickets. If you want the option to get a refund in case you need to cancel your flight, you’ll need to purchase a more expensive refundable ticket. Remember that refunds are only possible within the first 24 hours, even if you opt for an Economy Plus ticket, which is typically more expensive than a refundable United Economy ticket.

Basic Economy Vs Economy Baggage Policy

Baggage Policy - Personal, Carry-on and Checked Bag

When flying with United Airlines, it’s important to know their three categories for baggage: Personal Items, Carry-on, and Checked Bags. To make it easier, here are the maximum size requirements for 2023:-

  • Personal Item: 9 inches deep x 10 inches wide x 17 inches high (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm)
  • Carry-on: 9 x 14 x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm)
  • Checked bag: 62 inches or 157 centimetres (length + width + height) and 50 lbs/23 kg or less.
  • It’s important to note that basic economy fares only include overhead carry-on baggage if it’s a transpacific or transatlantic flight.  
  • Economy and Economy Plus passengers are allowed to bring a carry-on bag and a personal item for free. 
  • Basic economy ticket holders are limited to a single personal item that must fit under the seat in front of them. 
  • If the personal item doesn’t meet the size requirements, it will need to be checked, and an additional baggage fee may apply.
  • However, Checked baggage charges or fees apply to all fare types when flying domestically. 

Upgrading to Economy Plus

The availability of cabin classes on United Airlines depends on the route and type of plane you are travelling with. You can enhance your travel experience by upgrading to Economy Plus, which offers additional legroom and a seat closer to the front of the aircraft for faster disembarkation. You can opt for a one-time upgrade or sign up for yearly upgrades when booking a regular economy ticket (where Economy Plus is available).

United Basic Economy vs Economy In-flight Experience 

Both Basic Economy and Economy passengers will have a similar in-flight experience during a flight. Basic Economy passengers can still buy amenities such as in-flight Wi-Fi, entertainment, food, and drinks. It’s worth noting that Basic Economy passengers won’t be charged for using the lavatory, despite some circulated rumours.

Which is the Better Option Between Basic Economy and Economy?

Which is the Better option between Basic Economy and Economy

Basic Economy is the best option for the passengers who are traveling without a full-sized cabin bag. Consider getting a bag that’s the maximum size allowed and see how much you can fit inside. You may be surprised by how much you can pack, especially if you’re travelling in the summer with lightweight clothes.

Basic Economy can help you save money on your flight if you are okay with boarding last and being unable to choose your seat. It’s also a good choice if you’re allowed a full-sized cabin bag but want to pay less for your ticket.
However, if the price difference between Basic Economy and the regular Economy is minimal, paying more for the added benefits is better. Ultimately, if Basic Economy can save you a significant amount of money, it’s worth it, but if it’s only a small amount, it’s not worth sacrificing your comfort.

Overview of United Airlines Basic Economy Vs Economy


There are seven fare classes offered by United, out of which three have regular economy seating. Economy Plus is the most luxurious option, with more legroom and a better seat location. Standard economy allows carry-on bags and free seat selection. 

Basic Economy has more restrictions such as limited baggage allowances, assigned seats, and boarding at the end of the line but also a cheapest option as well. However, some limitations can be waived for those with elite status or a United co-branded credit card. Still, travelers get similar travel experiences in both Basic Economy and Economy classes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the basic Economy the same as the United economy?

Basic Economy class is less costly than Economy, but both offer the same level of comfort and inflight services. 

Are Basic Economy fares available on all United flights?

Basic Fares are available only on selected routes; it is advised to check before you plan your booking. 

What is united basic Economy vs Economy?

The difference between both is with flight fares, carry-on restrictions, eligibility for refunds, extra legroom, seat selection, and baggage allowances. 

What are the United economy benefits?

You get an option to cancel your flight without paying additional fees. 
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