Keep Calm, United Is NOT Regularly Charging for Overhead Bin Space

The larger overhead bin space in the Boeing Sky Interior (Photo: United)

Over the past few days, many news outlets have run stories with an attention grabbing headline such as “United is now charging for overhead bins” – or some variation of the sort. Even some bloggers have picked up the story and the news has gone viral in some regards.

However, not only is this not true, it is irresponsible journalism.

United CEO Oscar Munoz recently announced the introduction of their new “Basic Economy” fare. This new fare class is designed to propel United into the no frills/low fares market, which is dominated currently by airlines such as Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier, and to a lesser extent jetBlue and Southwest.

BONUS: United Introduces New Basic Economy and Other Company Changes

United has realized that, to some passengers, the emphasis is on “getting there” rather than airline loyalty and United will count on those passengers to help fill seats, as it embarks on large scale domestic network growth.

As these passengers tend to book the lowest fare they can find, Basic Economy is poised to be a win-win for both the airline and passengers, allowing the carrier to compete with the Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) while letting passengers save on airfare, while taking advantage of one of the largest route networks in the world.

In a statement to Gizmodo, a United spokesperson responded to the headlines adding, “We are not implementing additional restrictions on our customers, or taking anything away from them. United has announced a brand new fare called Basic Economy that is an additional option for customers and that will be cheaper than our regular Economy fares. For customers that are interested in bringing a carryon, our regular Economy fare will still be available. Furthermore, customers who purchase a Basic Economy fare with their Chase MileagePlus credit card will still receive priority boarding in group 2, and will be able to bring a carryon bag to stow in the overhead bins.”

Premium economy seating on United’s 787 (Photo: United)

However, this fare does come with restrictions. Passengers will not be allowed to select their seat assignments ahead of check in, which creates the potential for passengers flying together to be seated separately, however upon booking, the airline will require passengers to acknowledge this. Additionally, according to United’s website, the new baggage policy for the Basic Economy fare class is as follows:

“You’re allowed to bring a small personal item on board, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, 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. Full-size carry-on bags are not allowed unless you’re a Premier member, a primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or a Star Alliance Gold member. Basic Economy fares have the same checked baggage policies as regular Economy tickets.”

Furthermore, United has not changed their baggage policy for passengers who have purchased a ticket in the regular economy fare class, which means passengers who purchase those tickets should expect to see an unchanged flying experience from what is currently offered.

The airline is not rolling out a separate fee for the use of overhead bin space for regular fare passengers, so therefore to suggest that the airline is now charging for bin space is false.

This story was originally published by our partners at IGF Travel Channel 

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  • Robert Webber

    I hope United, American, Delta, et al remember that when they create these great lounge in the skies, the lay flat business class (that take up far more real estate than 2 rows of seats) and everything else they do for the hoi polloi – people who are treated like shit, who are crammed into shoe boxes, who are abused regularly by surly gate agents, who wait until there is no more room left at the inn – remember. They remember that the airlines have created classes far beyond the social strata – and when it is time to select airlines – at ANY level – loyalty to those will lessen amongst the lowly cattle in their feed lots. Sure, that’s what they think they have now – they care little about average people, it’s the others who pay more, after all. Too right. Consider though…as those first class travelers shrink (as they have been over the past few years) and business travel shrinks (ditto – and in the near future, a lot less) who will make up the short fall? Who remember that gas upcharges never were removed. Who remembers that they didn’t particularly care for our business. Who remembers that they were treated worse than cattle in trucks With technology you don’t need to visit people, have meetings off-site, go to foreign places for work (except if you are BOD members looking to see where you sent jobs) – the need will drop. The fact is too. companies won’t allow loyalty programs to get in the way of their cost cutting. So….just remember when you need loyalty….no one will show up. .

  • Jim Mitchell

    It is obvious that the low fares that are available now with full perks will turn into basic fares and we will pay more to get what we have today on United. It has been a very nice run with United, but it looks like it is coming to an end.