SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Some cheaper airfares will be available to Bay Area travelers as United announced Tuesday that the airline will start selling a new kind of low-cost ticket.
United is launching Basic Economy service. It promises cheaper tickets with significant restrictions.
Travel analyst Henry Hartevedlt told KPIX 5 the restrictions include:
- Limiting passengers to just one carry-on bag that must fit under their seat; no using the overhead bin
- No advance seat assignments
- No changing your ticket once it has been finalized, no matter what
“It’s one of these perfect examples of you get what you pay for,” said Hartevedlt. “You trade off a lot of convenience and control for some additional savings.”
Delta started a similar stripped-down program last year, also called Basic Economy.
It is only available on some flights and routes, usually ones that either tend not to sell out or where there’s lots of competition.
Sample fares for the service are $58 from Oakland to LAX or $133 from San Francisco to New York.
Both flights are mid-week in March.
Hartevelt says once you get airborne, it will be the same flight everyone else gets.
“You get the soft drinks or coffee. If you want to buy a snack box you can,” explained Hartevelt. “No difference on the plane.”
Analysts say airlines are just trying to keep profits up.
“The trend in the airline industry is all over the map,” said Hartevelt. “You see business class getting nicer.”
The question remains whether travelers will stand for fewer perks. At least one person KPIX 5 spoke with seemed to have reservations.
“Not being able to use the overhead bin? I don’t know,” a woman said.
“As you’re thinking of this, really think carefully before you buy the wrong ticket,” said Hartevelt.
Another downside is that if you are traveling with someone else, you probably won’t end up sitting together.
United says it will start offering basic economy fares in January for travel starting in March.