As travelers, we all know the wide array of frustrations we experience when it comes to flying. Not only is this aspect of travel stressful and oftentimes irritating, but it also tends to be expensive. But, there is a way to cut costs when selecting airfare.

Recently, we tried our luck flying via United’s basic economy fare class. Knowing this passenger category gets a bad rap, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We understand most traveler’s hesitation, but it was nowhere near as bad as some have made it out to be.

Booking Process

The booking process is much like any other. You’ll be given plenty of warning that you are selecting a basic economy fare and details of the restrictions. When available, you might be given the option to upgrade other fare classes, including standard economy.

Checking In

Checking in online is always a time saver. However, with this option check-in can only be completed at the airport. This is so customer service agents can verify you are only traveling with the allowed personal item (bag). If you have regular sized carry-on bags or checked luggage, you will be charged hefty fees. We packed light using standard size backpacks and didn’t have any issues.

As ticket prices keep going up, basic economy fares can be an affordable option.


Our paper boarding passes were flagged to indicate basic economy and that we were not allowed carry-on bags. Once we switched to electronic boarding passes, we noticed they were bright orange to easily differentiate us from the other travelers. We were the last people allowed to board the plane. This meant even less time sitting in those awful cramped seats!

Economy class seats are getting smaller and smaller. Why spend any more time in them than necessary? United Basic Economy ticket holders are the last ones to get on the plane.

Seat Assignments

Seat assignments are done at the gate when flying basic economy. Travelers are not allowed to select seats in advance without paying an additional fee. There is also no guarantee you will be located near others in your travel party. Despite this, my husband and I were seated next to each other on three out of four flights. On the fourth flight, I was assigned to the row directly in front of him.

Other than these few differences, our flight experience was much like any other. We received our complimentary drinks and snacks, and we earned valuable airline miles. Most importantly, our wallets thanked us for picking this budget-friendly option.

Budget Friendly Option

If you are looking for ways to scale back on the purchase price of an airline ticket, we highly recommend it. This is an especially attractive option for short trips where you won’t need to pack much. Really this ticket class was no different than flying a no-frills low cost carrier like Allegiant Airlines. Trying this fare and working with the restrictions on seat selection and baggage allowance saved us a substantial amount on the cost of our tickets.

If you have been considering trying a basic economy ticket via @united, we encourage you to try it! Click To Tweet

If you have been considering trying a basic economy ticket, we encourage you to try it. It was not difficult to manage nor was it an upleasant flight experience, especially on a short flight.

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  1. Yeah we flew United last year in the states for a short flight. We got stung for the hand luggage but you get what you pay for. We do no frills airlines all the time back at home when flying to places in Europe you can save a fortune, but you can’t collect points, unlike United – that’s neat.

    1. Oh man, sorry to hear about the hand luggage. I know those fees are pricey! We have done some no frills flights in Europe (recently tried Flybe) and it is the way to go!!!

  2. Good information. It’s always good to know what you are getting into when you purchase discount airfare. I’m always nervous that they will try to add extra charges at the last minute. I’m glad you got to sit together, and I agree, I don’t need to be first on the plane. I’m fine with being seated last. Being able to save money on travel helps you travel more. #WeekendWanderlust

    1. Those last minute fees make me nervous too. They’re expensive and I don’t like having my bag taken away from me either. By figuring out how to pack light and work around the airline rules, we’ve saved enough money over time to pay for another trip or two!

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