United Airlines Basic Economy Is Still the WORST in the Industry – Don’t Let This “Upgrade” Fool You

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Let me remind you about the unprecedented inconveniences of United Airlines Basic Economy.

  • If you’re traveling with someone else, hug them goodbye before you reach the end of the jet bridge.  You can’t choose your own seat.
  • If your plans change, you forfeit everything.  You can’t make any modifications to your flight.
  • You can’t bring a carry-on bag.  If you try, they’ll check the bag at the gate, charge you for a checked bag, and charge you an additional $25 gate handling fee.
  • You board the plane dead last.  That way the folks with more disposable income than you can snicker at you from their seat.

Note:   You can combat those last 2 bullets by opening the United℠ Explorer Card and using it to pay for your Basic Economy flight.

But now, United Airlines is sweetening the deal for Basic Economy customers with the opportunity to earn elite status twice as slowly as coach customers!

United Airlines makes a slight improvement to Basic Economy – but it’s all for show

United Airlines Brings Elite Status Credits to Basic Economy

I hate United Airlines Basic Economy.  But I do fly it, because I pay with my United℠ Explorer Card and receive priority boarding, a free carry-on bag, and a free checked bag.  If I didn’t have the card, forget about it.

Previously, United Airlines restricted Basic Economy passengers from earning miles that qualify toward elite status.  But now, United Airlines allows them to earn 50% elite qualifying miles and 0.5 elite qualifying segments.  In other words, you’ll receive half the elite credits that regular coach passengers get.  So if you were to fly strictly Basic Economy, here’s what you’d have to achieve:

  • Premier Silver – 50,000 miles or 60 segments (and $3,000)
  • Premier Gold – 100,000 miles or 120 segments (and $6,000)
  • Premier Platinum – 150,000 miles or 180 segments (and $9,000)
  • Premier 1K –  200,000 miles or 240 segments (and $15,000)

That’s a LOT of miles to travel.  My sense is that folks who fly Basic Economy aren’t interested in achieving elite status (I’m certainly not).  So United Airlines isn’t losing anything by making this change.  It just sounds good.

If you’re serious about elite status, you’re better off paying an extra ~$20 to fly regular coach and earn double the elite credits.  Not to mention you’ll receive a free carry-on bag and other unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.

I could be wrong though.  Let me know if you’re a Basic Economy customer chasing elite status!  And subscribe to our newsletter below:

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Want to know more about Basic Economy and avoiding its pitfalls?  Check out:

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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