Last Updated on January 17, 2021
United’s Basic Economy is their most restrictive fare.
So much so that United sometimes send out a warning email to customers that have bought a Basic Economy ticket.
They want to remind passengers the following are not part of the Basic Economy deal.
That list fails to mention that online check-in is not available and you also cannot check-in using the self-service machines unless you pay for a checked bag.
It should be top of the list because this experience is frequently one of the most annoying things about flying Basic with United.
United seem to inconvenience Basic Economy passengers in an attempt to annoy them into paying extra for checked bags.
Without checking a bag you will need to stand in line at the airport and find an agent to check you in manually. Agents are not always available quickly.
So if you are not planning on checking a bag you should allow extra time at the airport for an old fashioned desk check-in.
That’s right. If you are NOT checking a bag, you need to stand in line to check-in. Shabazz felt like a second class citizen:
And Jin also had to stand in a long line because she didn’t want to pay the United Basic Economy checked bag fees.
But if you pay the fee to check a bag, even for a carry on sized bag that could fit in the overhead bin, then United will take the pain away.
Suddenly you will be able to check in online or using the selfservice machines and proceed directly to the gate.
So how much money do United want to stop deliberately making your life difficult?
How much is a checked bag on united basic economy?
A checked bag on United Basic Economy will cost you $35 or $30 if you prebook.
On trans-Atlantic flights, you will be charged a fee of $60 for your first standard checked bag, but you will have the option of bringing a carry-on into the cabin.
Remember these fees are charges each way so they soon add up.
There is no United Basic Economy Upgrade option. If you don’t like the baggage policy or conditions you can cancel within 24 hours. After that there are no refunds or changes.
United Basic Economy can work for travelers who travel light and don’t mind jumping through hoops without good reason.
To decide if it’s worth it you need to compare the price difference between standard and basic economy.
If you are good at packing light and if you have a maximum-sized United personal item (17 x 10 x 9 inches) you might be able to avoid the bag checking fee.
But beware United are strict about the personal item size limit on Basic Economy.
We recommend this Boarding Blue as the best bag to avoid United Basic Economy bag checking fee.
It has a 25 liter capacity and is specially designed for Basic Economy on United Airlines to avoid checked baggage fees.
Look, it’s not the best bag in the world but it’s the perfect size for a United personal item.
In comparison a full size carry on has a 45 liter capacity.
And a large checked bag might have 115 liters which for most short trips is way more than you need.
The Potential Unforeseen Cost Of Checking Luggage
I usually prefer to fly with a carry-on and keep my luggage beside me at all times.
On the one hand I travel light so I am able to do that. On the other hand I’m always a little worried about checking luggage.
There are many horror stories about theft, damage, or even complete loss of checked luggage.
Scott was made to check this little backpack on a United Basic Economy flight. Backpacks can sometimes be too wide to be considered a United personal item.
So my advice is if you can pack light in a suitable small under-seat bag then do that and avoid the checked bag fees. At the very least always keep your valuables close to you.
Long term if you think you’ll travel United Basic Economy a lot and want to bring a carry-on bag then you should consider getting a United branded credit card.
Holders of certain cards allow you to bring a full-sized carry on even on United Basic Economy flights. So get a United credit card and you’ll be one of the special people.
United Basic Economy checked bag fees will be $30 to $35 each way.
The baggage policy does not allow you to bring a carry on on Basic Economy flights.
You can’t pay extra to bring larger cabin luggage.
This means your options are either packing light with the under-seat personal item, or paying the fee to check a bag.
I say beat the system with the little under seat bag! You’ll enjoy it!