Several venues, including Fortune and PuffHo, report that as of January, customers flying in the cheapest seats on United Airlines will no longer be able to put their luggage in the overhead bins, but will be restricted to carry-on items that fit below the seat. Since United already charges $25 to check a bag, this automatically puts most passengers trying to economize out by $25, for who can go away for a week with only what fits under your seat?
The “no overhead bin” fares won’t be cheaper than present economy fares; they’ll be the same. You’ll have to pay more for the privilege of choosing your seat and stowing your gear overhead. As Fortune reports:
United, the No. 3 U.S. airline by passengers carried, said customers who bought its cheapest fares would not be assigned seats until the day of departure, meaning people on the same ticket may be split apart.
United will also prohibit these travelers from carrying on bags that can only fit in overhead bins, and they will not accrue miles toward elite status.The company expects the moves to add $4.8 billion to its annual operating income by 2020, although the figure does not include rising wages.
Fare initiatives such as “basic economy” will account for $1 billion of this, as more customers pay to check bags or select higher fares that give them two “free” carry-ons.
“Free” carry ons my tuchas! Who do they think they’re fooling? And, in PuffHo, you can read the pathetic excuses that United gives, trying to make it seem that the passengers are benefiting from this avarice:
“Customers have told us that they want more choice [!!!!] and Basic Economy delivers just that,” Julia Haywood, United’s chief commercial officer, said in a news release.
The boarding process will also be faster because fewer customers will be searching for overhead bin space, United said.
Chicago-based United said it would begin selling the no-frills fares in the first quarter of 2017 for travel starting in the second quarter. Prices will be comparable to low fares it now charges for the economy cabin, but with more restrictions.
Do we look like we just fell off the turnip truck, United? The airlines I use most frequently are United and Southwest, and I have many frequent-flyer miles on each one. But if United pulls a stunt like this, I can’t say I’m going to remain a loyal customer. Southwest gives you two checked bags for free, has SNACKS, and loyal customers like me get drink coupons periodically. And if you buy a ticket and have to change it, you don’t pay any fee; all your money is saved for a future Southwest flight or used toward your new ticket.
If you want to complain to United Airlines, you can use the form here. I’ve already made a complaint.