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United Airlines: Basic Economy Vs Standard Economy Vs Economy Plus

Flying on a budget requires a lot of decisions when you are buying your tickets. United Airlines Economy class has four options for your ticket. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. 

United Airlines offers four seating options in the United Economy section of airplanes. As you pay more for each classification, you move toward the front of the airplane.

Here are the four classifications with their top benefit:

  • Basic Economy - Lowest price
  • United Economy - Seat selection
  • United Economy, Preferred Seating - Right behind the Economy Plus
  • Economy Plus - 6-inches more legroom than Economy

The benefits of United Economy make it an excellent option for price-conscious passengers. Buying an airline ticket can be complicated. All the information about the different options of the United Economy seating classification is explored below.

Keep reading to make the best decision for your United Airlines flights.

United Economy Overview

Economy seats on the lower deck

The majority of the seats on a United Airlines airplane are designated as United Economy. On other airlines, this is often called Standard Economy. All the United Economy seats on a national flight receive the same drinks, snacks, and media amenities.

What is United Economy?

United Economy is a ticket option that offers a good mixture of benefits for a comparable price to other major airlines. The two best benefits of a United Economy seat are choosing your seats and bringing both a personal item and a carry-on into the cabin.

What are the Benefits of United Economy?

United Economy tickets have many benefits that give you options for travel and for the changes that you may need. Here are the main benefits of a United Economy ticket:

  • Seat selection at purchase
  • Included personal items and carry-on.
  • Included soft drinks, teas, and coffee
  • Included  snack options
  • Options to buy from the "Choice Menu Snack Shop" or "Bistro on Board."
  • Options to buy alcoholic beverages
  • Media Amenities
  • Some flights have In-seat power

United Economy International Flight Benefits

  • Seat selection at purchase
  • Included soft drinks, teas, coffee, beers, and wines
  • Included meal service with a snack or sandwich option
  • Options to buy from the "Choice Menu Snack Shop" or "Bistro on Board."
  • Options to purchase alcoholic beverages
  • Media Amenities
  • Some flights have In-seat power

What Baggage is Included in United Economy?

Hand-luggage compartment with hand-luggage in an airplane

All United Economy ticket options offer checked baggage for a fee. Inside the cabin, United Economy passengers can bring both a personal item and a carry-on that fits in the overhead bins. The carry-on may be gate-checked if the flight is full. 

How Big Can My Carry-on be on United Economy?

Weighing luggage using a luggage measuring device at the airport, United Airlines: Basic Economy Vs Standard Economy Vs Economy Plus

United Airlines has three main categories for baggage: Personal Items, Carry-on, and Checked Bags. Here are their 2023 maximum size requirements:

  • Personal Item - 9 inches deep x 10 in. wide x 17 in. 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 centimeters [length + width + height] and 50 lbs/23 km or less

What is United Economy Preferred Seating?

If you want to be in an earlier boarding group or for quicker exit on arrival, you can buy Preferred Seating when you buy your United Economy ticket.

Preferred Seating seats are either right behind the Economy Plus seats, by bulkheads, or next to Emergency Exits. These seats may have extra legroom, but it is not guaranteed, so read the description carefully.

What is United Economy Plus?

United Economy Plus is the front section of the Economy cabin. These seats offer 6 inches [15 cm] more legroom.

Plus seats are guaranteed to have In-seat power for recharging your cell phone, tablet, or computer. You will be given Premier qualifying points for any United Airlines MileagePlus participants.

What is Basic Economy?

Basic Economy is the most affordable way to travel on United Airlines. This ticket does not include seat selection. Seats are assigned by the computer at the time of check-in on your computer or on the United app on your cell phone. 

What is the Benefit of Basic Economy?

 The best benefit of buying a Basic Economy ticket on United Airlines is the price. For a short flight, Basic Economy may be a good choice for you if you don't mind the least preferred seats.

The seat assignments tend to be at the back of the airplane and are often the middle seats. 

What Should I Know about United's Basic Economy?

You should know a few things about flying on a United Airlines Basic Economy ticket:

  1. You cannot choose your seat, so you cannot sit with your family or friends.
  2. The gate attendant usually cannot change your seat to be near family or friends.
  3. You can only bring a personal item with you.
  4. You cannot bring a Carry-on for the overhead bins.
  5. If you bring a Carry-on, you may be charged a gate handling fee AND a checked bag fee.
  6. You cannot usually upgrade to Economy Plus, Business, or First Class.
  7. You cannot change your flight without a fee.
  8. You cannot get a refund if you need to cancel your ticket.

Can I Change My Flight on Basic Economy?

In 2021 United Airlines improved its policy on changing a Basic Economy ticket. Now you can buy a "Switch to Economy" upgrade.

Once you have paid for this upgrade, you can change your flight. You will be paying for a United Economy ticket on this purchase.  

Airplane seat and window inside an airplane

Is United Economy the Same as Basic Economy?

These two classifications in the Economy cabin share the same seats, but they are different. A Basic Economy ticket has more limitations.

You cannot choose your seat, sit with friends or family, and bring a Carry-on item onto the airplane. 

On a United Economy ticket, you can choose your seats to keep your friends and family together. The onboard eating, drinking, and media amenities are the same.

Click here to see this Carry-on at Amazon.com.

Is Economy Plus the Same as Basic Economy on United Airlines?

No, Economy Plus is not the same as Basic Economy.

United Airlines Economy Plus gives you a seat in front of the main cabin. Your seat will have six more inches of legroom. You will have guaranteed in-seat power for your devices.

Basic Economy has none of these benefits.

Is Basic Economy Always the Best Price?

Yes, but the answer is more complicated. Basic Economy will be the lowest-priced ticket on the airplane.

Some airline researchers compared the price differences between Basic Economy, United Economy, and Economy Plus. Price differences ranged from $3 to $60 between the three. 

Is Economy Plus better than United Economy?

Economy Plus seats have more legroom than the seats in United Economy. You will board earlier and deplane earlier than the rest of the United Economy cabin when you sit in Economy Plus.

Weigh these benefits against the cost saving of the United Economy ticket.

Is it Worth Upgrading to Economy Plus?

This is a personal decision for every traveler. One criterion to consider is the length of the flight you are taking.

For an international or cross-country flight, the extra legroom and guaranteed in-seat power may make the higher cost of the Economy Plus ticket worth it. 

What is United Premium Plus?

For some transcontinental United Airlines flights on the new airplanes, you can buy a United Premium Plus seat. This category has some additional benefits than Economy Plus. You get:

  • All benefits of Economy Plus
  • Each seat has its own power outlet and USB port
  • Free drinks (alcoholic drinks included)
  • Premier Access boarding
  • 2 Free Checked Bags
  • Discounted United Club passes

Click here to see this travel bag on Amazon.com.

How Do I Get a Free Checked Bag on United Airlines?

Open traveler's bag with clothing, accessories, credit card, tickets and passport

Most national United Economy ticket options require that you pay a fee per checked bag. All international flights come with one included checked bag.

Some travel credit cards and some United Airlines cardmembers come with up to 2 free checked bags.

What Seat Classes Does United Airlines Offer?

When you fly United Airlines, you have many seat options. Most are not available on all flights. Here are the options from most benefits to the least:

  • Polaris Class
  • First Class
  • Business Class
  • Premium Plus
  • Economy Plus
  • United Economy - Preferred Seating
  • United Economy
  • Basic Economy

In Summary

When you fly United Airlines, you have seating options in the Economy cabin.

United Economy is the most affordable option for sitting with family or friends and having flight change options. Economy Plus has more legroom. Basic Economy will save you the most money, but it could be costly if you need to change your plans.

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