First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

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28fe6
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First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:53 am

I'm traveling with 2 adults and 3 small children (ages 4 through 6) soon. I can save $400 or more by choosing Basic Economy instead of Regular Economy. These are the downsides of Basic Economy:

--No carry-on bags: no problem. I hate bags anyway.
--No re-schedule or refunds: I'm willing to take the risk. I have some trip insurance via my credit card, maybe.
--No seating choice: This is the biggest issue when traveling with a family. I can pay to choose seats, but if I pay for seating for everyone for every segment, there is very little price difference compared to Regular Economy.

United says that seats will be chosen after check-in time, and they do not guarantee that families will be able to sit together. I'm willing to split my party into two on the plane (1 parent with 2 kids, and 1 parent with 1 kid). But I don't want any of my kids to be seated in a totally different part of the plane away from any parents.

I know i can pay for proper Economy and choose my seats, but I want to try Basic and see how it works out. Does anyone have experiences flying under Basic economy with smaller children? What is the risk that the airlines really seat your children in a totally different part of the plane?

jucor
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by jucor » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:26 am

It really depends upon how full the plane is -- if it's crowded there's a good chance you'll not get to sit with your kids -- and a good chance you'll all have center seats. I've cheaped out on basic economy several times -- and have generally gotten less than optimal seats -- and was not surprised (that's why it is a cheaper ticket, after all!). Personally, I would not do it at all for flights over 2 hours, even without kids. If you choose Basic Economy United has zero obligation to honor your seat preferences or reseat you once on the plane.

With kids that young I'd not risk it, even on a short flight. Do your family and the others on the plane a favor and pony up for the regular economy.
Last edited by jucor on Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

HomeStretch
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by HomeStretch » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:28 am

Pay for the plane class of service that allows you to select seats in advance so you can keep your family in one or two groups.

Why leave this to chance when you board? In the event you can’t get seats together because you opted not to pay for pre-boarding seat selection, why delay takeoff or inconvenience other travelers by asking them to move? With 3 small kids, protect them from the possibility of sitting alone next to strangers.

knowledge
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by knowledge » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:31 am

I have not had first hand experience flying basic economy. I have been in planes where a mother was separated from her toddler when she bought basic economy fares and no one wanted to accommodate her to allow her to sit next to her child. If you buy basic economy, assume the worst case and that you'll have 5 separate seats. I wouldn't bother.

Afty
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by Afty » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:35 am

I wouldn't risk it. From the United Basic Economy FAQ:
Q: If I'm traveling with my family, can we sit together if I purchase Basic Economy tickets?
A: With Basic Economy, if you do not purchase advance seat assignments, we’re not able to guarantee that your family will be able to sit together. If it’s important for your family to sit together, please consider purchasing advance seat assignments, if available, or selecting another fare.
There's discussion on FlyerTalk as well, there the consensus is that United won't intentionally seat families separately but they may not have a choice if there are no seats available together and other passengers who paid for a seat assignment don't want to switch.

david
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by david » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:36 am

Think of the headache on their end if they do. Your kids will at least be with a parent or there would be pandemonium on the plane by your family and anyone unlucky enough to sit by your unaccompanied children.

That said, I have flown with my family including one small child in a basic economy situations, but I don't remember the carrier. You possibly can try calling after. Also the gate agents will very likely help you, go up to them asap to get your seat assignments and possibly seat assignment changes.

However, policies have been changing and the current FAQ says don't use this fare class if you want to sit with family.

Also, you.might want to look into a United credit card. https://thepointsguy.com/guide/how-to-s ... -airlines/

Learner1
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by Learner1 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:38 am

I thought that with Basic Economy, carry-on bags were all that is allowed and that checked bags incur an extra fee. This is my experience flying Basic Economy on an American Airlines transatlantic flight.

muddgirl
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by muddgirl » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:41 am

I have flown United quite a bit recently, sometimes basic economy and sometimes with friends who booked basic economy. If the plane is rather empty then the gate agents have had no problems assigning seats near each other. If the plane is full, they will not reseat anyone with assigned seats to keep family together. this can result in a lot of negotiation and seat shuffling but then you are depending on the kindness of strangers.

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FlyAF
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by FlyAF » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:46 am

Please don't be the person asking people who paid for their seat assignment to switch when your family all gets center seats.

There are many reasons that I quit flying coach, but this one is definitely pretty high up the list.

rjbraun
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by rjbraun » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:54 am

Agree with others, OP should spring for regular economy tickets and get seats assigned in advance.

I'm kind of surprised that the airline would even sell basic economy tickets to a group that includes "underage" passengers. By definition, it would seem that any passenger opting for basic economy would need to be prepared to be seated in any single seat, anywhere on the plane. That hardly seems the case for a child 4-6 years in age. Even if the parent is willing to forego sitting with their kid, it hardly seems appropriate to place the child, who will presumably be assigned a middle seat, between two adults who may or may not be interested to accompany a minor on a plane trip.

TN_Boy
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by TN_Boy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:01 pm

muddgirl wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:41 am
I have flown United quite a bit recently, sometimes basic economy and sometimes with friends who booked basic economy. If the plane is rather empty then the gate agents have had no problems assigning seats near each other. If the plane is full, they will not reseat anyone with assigned seats to keep family together. this can result in a lot of negotiation and seat shuffling but then you are depending on the kindness of strangers.
I am trying to remember the last time I flew on a plane that was "rather empty!"

OP, if you do this, do understand that either you are going to inconvenience somebody by making them switch (if they are willing.... I probably wouldn't be ....) or your children may be sitting next to strangers. Do the kids travel well? How long are the flights?

muddgirl
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by muddgirl » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:11 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:01 pm
muddgirl wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:41 am
I have flown United quite a bit recently, sometimes basic economy and sometimes with friends who booked basic economy. If the plane is rather empty then the gate agents have had no problems assigning seats near each other. If the plane is full, they will not reseat anyone with assigned seats to keep family together. this can result in a lot of negotiation and seat shuffling but then you are depending on the kindness of strangers.
I am trying to remember the last time I flew on a plane that was "rather empty!"

OP, if you do this, do understand that either you are going to inconvenience somebody by making them switch (if they are willing.... I probably wouldn't be ....) or your children may be sitting next to strangers. Do the kids travel well? How long are the flights?
I know it was quite a shock when I checked in and saw 5 or 6 completely empty rows. These could have been saved for Basic Economy so maybe I should amend that it depends on the ratio of Basic to non-basic flyers.

lazydavid
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by lazydavid » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:23 pm

Learner1 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:38 am
I thought that with Basic Economy, carry-on bags were all that is allowed and that checked bags incur an extra fee. This is my experience flying Basic Economy on an American Airlines transatlantic flight.
That is standard Economy, sometimes called Coach, or in the case of AA, Main Cabin. Domestic routes have no free baggage, long-haul have one. Basic Economy also has charges for checked bags (including on long-haul routes), but carry-ons are prohibited, you board last (so there would be no room for your carryon anyway), and get whatever seat is left when you get to the gate. They're also not refundable or changeable (except for IRROPS), eligible for upgrades, standby, same day flight change, etc. One way in which AA apparently differs from UA is that their reservation system does automatically try to seat anyone under 14 with an adult.

coalcracker
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by coalcracker » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:26 pm

Here is a recent long thread about this subject:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=275189&p=4425656#p4425656

I have two young kids (5 and 2) and was recently burned by naively choosing basic economy instead of regular economy. Never again.

They sat us all separately and, on a full plane, we had to negotiate with passengers around us so we could be seated 2 and 2. The gate agents were no help at all; said their hands were tied.

I, like you, had assumed that they would go the extra mile to seat families together, but it seems this is another ploy by the airlines make their cheapest seats as unpalatable as possible, and "depart" money from pockets of fliers. I will not be purchasing basic economy tickets again when traveling with family.

coalcracker
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by coalcracker » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:30 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:01 pm
muddgirl wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:41 am
I have flown United quite a bit recently, sometimes basic economy and sometimes with friends who booked basic economy. If the plane is rather empty then the gate agents have had no problems assigning seats near each other. If the plane is full, they will not reseat anyone with assigned seats to keep family together. this can result in a lot of negotiation and seat shuffling but then you are depending on the kindness of strangers.
I am trying to remember the last time I flew on a plane that was "rather empty!"

OP, if you do this, do understand that either you are going to inconvenience somebody by making them switch (if they are willing.... I probably wouldn't be ....) or your children may be sitting next to strangers. Do the kids travel well? How long are the flights?
Let's be real: no one is going to let a 2-6 year old child sit next to strangers. But I agree that it will be inconveniencing someone with the switch. Honestly I wish airlines would not even offer this class of fare in which seats were unassigned, but I guess it's appealing to some (mostly solo?) travelers.

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28fe6
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:51 pm

Thanks for the FlyerTalk link.

I still have a chance to purchase seats up until check-in time starts. However, United says that you cannot purchase seats after check-in time.

In the case of young children, I'm really surprised that United allows people to buy Basic Economy tickets for them at all. After all, airlines have rules about which ages of children they allow to fly alone, for example, so they could easily have a rule that you can't book certain age children in Basic Economy. But if they do allow it, they seem to be supporting flying a 2.1-year-old kid anywhere in the plane by itself. I am surprised United is willing to support this or even allow it. I know I wouldn't be very happy to have somebody else's 2 year-old fly in a middle seat next to me, away from his parents.

I would love to get the United card, but it's a Chase card and I think I'm over 4/24 or whatever. I haven't been able to get any cards at all for a long time, based on "too many inquiries", even though I haven't got a new credit card in over a year.
Why leave this to chance when you board?
To save $400. That difference will easily pay for our rental car for the whole trip.
Last edited by 28fe6 on Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TN_Boy
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by TN_Boy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:00 pm

coalcracker wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:30 pm
TN_Boy wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:01 pm
muddgirl wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:41 am
I have flown United quite a bit recently, sometimes basic economy and sometimes with friends who booked basic economy. If the plane is rather empty then the gate agents have had no problems assigning seats near each other. If the plane is full, they will not reseat anyone with assigned seats to keep family together. this can result in a lot of negotiation and seat shuffling but then you are depending on the kindness of strangers.
I am trying to remember the last time I flew on a plane that was "rather empty!"

OP, if you do this, do understand that either you are going to inconvenience somebody by making them switch (if they are willing.... I probably wouldn't be ....) or your children may be sitting next to strangers. Do the kids travel well? How long are the flights?
Let's be real: no one is going to let a 2-6 year old child sit next to strangers. But I agree that it will be inconveniencing someone with the switch. Honestly I wish airlines would not even offer this class of fare in which seats were unassigned, but I guess it's appealing to some (mostly solo?) travelers.
So what if nobody offers to switch and the seat for the kid is a center seat away from parents? That's a serious question, I do not know what happens in that situation. Do they force a switch?

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28fe6
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:03 pm

So what if nobody offers to switch and the seat for the kid is a center seat away from parents? That's a serious question, I do not know what happens in that situation. Do they force a switch?
I don't know either. I can think of a few things that might happen. The people sitting next to the kid might complain. Or the airline could offer somebody compensation for somebody to switch their seat, the way they offer compensation for people to take different flights. I have never heard of it happening though. For $400 savings, I'm still considering pushing forward and seeing what happens. I might also carry a $50 bill in my pocket, in case somebody complains about having to switch a seat they paid for. I would much rather pay $50 to somebody to switch their seat, than pay $400 for 5 assigned seats that I might not even need.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by indexfundfan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:05 pm

You can save a little by buying 4 regular economy tickets and 1 basic economy ticket. One adult with 3 kids, the other adult alone.
My signature has been deleted.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by MotoTrojan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:08 pm

I would go for a hybrid approach and get all basic economy and then only pre-pay for enough seats to keep those that need to be together, together. Could also do a hybrid of basic economy and regular economy if that works.

Don't be that person who saves the $400 and then bothers the flight/gate attendants to get your family together... beyond obnoxious. It is cheaper for a reason.

oldfatguy
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by oldfatguy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:09 pm

Maybe you should drive.

scophreak
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by scophreak » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:16 pm

MotoTrojan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:08 pm
Don't be that person who saves the $400 and then bothers the flight/gate attendants to get your family together... beyond obnoxious. It is cheaper for a reason.
Like others, I disagree with this sentiment. If the airline allows for these tickets to be booked for passengers that cannot be seated alone, then the onus is on the airline to accommodate. They could easily alter the booking system such that passengers under a certain age (i.e. the age to travel alone) are not permitted to book in Basic Economy. Since they choose not to do so they should deal with the consequences. This is basic customer service and a problem of their own creation. They hold all the power to solve the problem, if they choose to do so.

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28fe6
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:21 pm

I forgot to mention that I have Premier silver status with United, for what it's worth. Also, I booked 2 different itineraries (same planes): Me+son on one, and Wife+2daughters on the other. So we could theoretically upgrade Wife+2daughters, and hope that Me+son (he's the oldest) get fairly decent seats given my status.

In the other thread, somebody posted this:
Congress already passed rules against separating families with children 14 and under but the dept. of transportation won't enforce it.
Does anyone have any more information about this? I would like to know what laws and other rules exist at least to be informed.

Pigeon
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by Pigeon » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:22 pm

I can't imagine how you travel with three little kids and bring no luggage at all, unless you are paying to check a bag or two.

I may be a jerk, but I wouldn't switch seats to accommodate your three year old. I've got kids and I understand traveling with kids. But I think it's pretty inconsiderate to expect people to give up their seats so that you can save a few bucks.

I also can't recall the last flight I took that wasn't either overbooked or full up.

scophreak
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by scophreak » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:30 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:21 pm
I forgot to mention that I have Premier silver status with United, for what it's worth. Also, I booked 2 different itineraries (same planes): Me+son on one, and Wife+2daughters on the other. So we could theoretically upgrade Wife+2daughters, and hope that Me+son (he's the oldest) get fairly decent seats given my status.

In the other thread, somebody posted this:
Congress already passed rules against separating families with children 14 and under but the dept. of transportation won't enforce it.
Does anyone have any more information about this? I would like to know what laws and other rules exist at least to be informed.
Here's one article on the subject...https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyl ... story.html

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by lazydavid » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:30 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:21 pm
I forgot to mention that I have Premier silver status with United, for what it's worth. Also, I booked 2 different itineraries (same planes): Me+son on one, and Wife+2daughters on the other. So we could theoretically upgrade Wife+2daughters, and hope that Me+son (he's the oldest) get fairly decent seats given my status.
On most airlines--including United--elite benefits do not apply when flying in Basic Economy. You can get earlier boarding if you have high enough status or an appropriate CC, and a free checked bag, but that's pretty much it. Booking two PNRs won't help you either, because you cannot upgrade basic fares, full stop. Not due to status, not by paying, not by using stickers. See UA's FAQ:
United Airlines wrote:Q: Do MileagePlus Premier benefits apply when purchasing a Basic Economy ticket?
A: Premier members who purchase Basic Economy tickets are subject to most of the Basic Economy restrictions. However, Premier members will receive the same boarding priority as they would receive when traveling on any other fare, and they're always eligible for a full-sized carry-on bag and the complimentary checked baggage allowance they receive with their Premier status.

Q: As a MileagePlus Premier member, will I be able to select a seat in Economy Plus or in the front cabin when flying on a Basic Economy ticket?
A: No, all travelers with Basic Economy tickets, including MileagePlus Premier members, will not be able to sit in Economy Plus or the premium cabin. This includes complimentary and for-purchase Economy Plus seating, as well as any type of upgrade including paid upgrades, MileagePlus Upgrade Awards, Complimentary Premier Upgrades, Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades.

Q: I'm a MileagePlus Premier member — will I still be able to choose an Economy Plus seat?
A: Customers who purchase a Basic Economy ticket, regardless of Premier level, will not be able to purchase or receive an Economy Plus seat.
https://www.united.com/web/en-US/conten ... y-faq.aspx

I hope it works out for you, but I fear this is a miscalculation that could go very badly.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by SrGrumpy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:31 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:51 pm
In the case of young children, I'm really surprised that United allows people to buy Basic Economy tickets for them at all.
In the case of young children, I'm really surprised that parents think they can buy Basic Economy and then ask for special treatment.

HomeStretch
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by HomeStretch » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:33 pm

This thread really makes me wish that airlines would not sell unassigned seat tickets to minors.

I’m a bit flummoxed that a parent wouldn’t spend the $$$ to guarantee seating for young children. Honestly no way I’m switching my aisle seat (that I booked/paid in advance) for a middle seat to accommodate a parent that “saved $400”, no matter how many $50 bills are offered as an incentive to me.

$400 is a lot of money. But this isn’t the place to economize. Reconsider the trip.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:34 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:53 am
What is the risk that the airlines really seat your children in a totally different part of the plane?
About 10 months ago, my two kids flew with my spouse and I on six different flights over two weeks, there was two of the six legs where one of our kids had to be separated from us, i.e. three different groupings. Both times, our oldest (13 yo) was ticketed directly in the row ahead or behind one of us.

The difficulty was two fold. The flights were all completely full. Secondly, people pay extra for aisle seats and have a preference for window seats so when I asked those around my daughter and I to swap, only one did so. The other time they were very indignant that I had the gall to ask them to move so my daughter could sit next to us. Our oldest daughter was 13 so it wasn't that big of a deal but I wouldn't have wanted to be in that situation for our youngest.

Based on that experience, I would pay the extra to choose seating in advance.

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28fe6
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:35 pm

I can't imagine how you travel with three little kids and bring no luggage at all, unless you are paying to check a bag or two.
We do it routinely. We are very lean and don't bring luggage even if it's free. We are visiting family and have everything we need on the other end of the flight. Anything in the middle can be bought in the airport.
I may be a jerk, but I wouldn't switch seats to accommodate your three year old. I've got kids and I understand traveling with kids. But I think it's pretty inconsiderate to expect people to give up their seats so that you can save a few bucks.
It's not a few bucks. It's like $400-500. More than any of the individual tickets cost.

you cannot upgrade basic fares, full stop
Not upgrade, but United website said that we can still choose to purchase seat assignments up until check-in time. That's the only benefit we really care about.

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Watty
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by Watty » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:36 pm

The airline is very unlikely to ask a passenger to move from a seat they paid extra for just so that you can all sit together.

If you try asking people to switch then don't expect anyone to be willing to switch seats with you especially if they have a window or aisle seat and you want them to switch for a center seat. They likely paid extra for their seat.

The majority of people on flights are also traveling with someone so you would likely be asking people to be split up from their traveling partners.

By the time you are trying to get them to switch there may also not be any overhead space for their carryon left near where you want them to move to.

You might want to take some fifty or hundred dollar bills with you so you can offer people money to change seats.

You would also likely need to deal with getting separated when the plane lands and there is chaos when people are getting off the plane.

If I was sitting next to an unaccompanied kid that was not well behaved because their parents were not willing to pay to reserve a seat I would be real tempted to tell the kid all sorts of scary ghost stories and and make sure that they got lots caffeine and sugar. (just kidding :D (sort of))

Unless the kids are older teenages then I would not try this.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by rjbraun » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:37 pm

indexfundfan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:05 pm
You can save a little by buying 4 regular economy tickets and 1 basic economy ticket. One adult with 3 kids, the other adult alone.
Unless the plane configuration is 4-seats across, I don't see how this would work without having at least one kid seated alone. And assuming the parent flying regular economy is seated between the other two kids (in a 3-seat setup), that would mean that parent wouldn't even be seated just across the aisle for the child on his or her own.
28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:51 pm
Thanks for the FlyerTalk link.

I still have a chance to purchase seats up until check-in time starts. However, United says that you cannot purchase seats after check-in time.

In the case of young children, I'm really surprised that United allows people to buy Basic Economy tickets for them at all. After all, airlines have rules about which ages of children they allow to fly alone, for example, so they could easily have a rule that you can't book certain age children in Basic Economy. But if they do allow it, they seem to be supporting flying a 2.1-year-old kid anywhere in the plane by itself. I am surprised United is willing to support this or even allow it. I know I wouldn't be very happy to have somebody else's 2 year-old fly in a middle seat next to me, away from his parents.

I would love to get the United card, but it's a Chase card and I think I'm over 4/24 or whatever. I haven't been able to get any cards at all for a long time, based on "too many inquiries", even though I haven't got a new credit card in over a year.
Why leave this to chance when you board?
To save $400. That difference will easily pay for our rental car for the whole trip.
Assuming I follow you correctly, it would seem that there is the risk that by the time you decide to purchase seats when check-in time starts, there aren't enough seats together to accommodate your family.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by Diligent Emu » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:39 pm

I recently booked (and took) United Basic Economy for a trip with our 4 year old. I had every intention of paying for assigned seats but the website let me select the seats with no additional fees. I am a United MileagePlus member and credit card holder so this may have something to do with this, but I haven't been able to find any indication that this is the case. I suspect that United does not want to deal with the issues of young kids seated apart from their parents so after trying to scare you off purchasing basic economy they throw up their hands and let you pick seats if you insist on doing it.

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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by galawdawg » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:43 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:03 pm
So what if nobody offers to switch and the seat for the kid is a center seat away from parents? That's a serious question, I do not know what happens in that situation. Do they force a switch?
I don't know either. I can think of a few things that might happen. The people sitting next to the kid might complain. Or the airline could offer somebody compensation for somebody to switch their seat, the way they offer compensation for people to take different flights. I have never heard of it happening though. For $400 savings, I'm still considering pushing forward and seeing what happens. I might also carry a $50 bill in my pocket, in case somebody complains about having to switch a seat they paid for. I would much rather pay $50 to somebody to switch their seat, than pay $400 for 5 assigned seats that I might not even need.
Many airlines (Southwest notably excluded) have gone with a booking model where customers pay for what is important to them. Basic economy is just that: basic service for customers who want to buy a seat at the lowest cost but don't care about where it is located and whether they are seated with traveling companions. If sitting with traveling companions is important, then a customer can choose to pay more to select their seats. Most flights I have been on in the last five years have been fully booked and when seats are assigned to those who haven't paid to pre-select seats, the only seats remaining to assign them are usually middle seats in the rear of the aircraft.

Why would an airline compensate other passengers to move so that you can save money on your ticket? If a passenger paid extra to choose their seat, why should they even consider giving up that benefit to assist you in saving that fee? If you are seated in five different rows throughout the aircraft, how long are you willing to delay boarding of other travelers while you walk up and down the aisle waving a $50 bill looking for someone to change seats? If I paid extra to choose my seat and United then forced me to move to accommodate you and your family, I would have less than kind things to say about you and less than kind things to say about United.

If you choose not to pay to select your seats to save money knowing the very substantial likelihood that you won't be seated together, please don't be that customer who complains when each of you is seated in middle seats each in a different row. If you want your children seated with you, please pay the appropriate fee to pre-select your seats. Or you can consider Southwest which is more "family friendly" when it comes to seating and boarding policies, has no checked bag fees (you get no carry-on bags with United basic economy and you'll pay for each checked bag) and no change fee if circumstances require you to change your travel plans.

MotoTrojan
Posts: 7614
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by MotoTrojan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:48 pm

scophreak wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:16 pm
MotoTrojan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:08 pm
Don't be that person who saves the $400 and then bothers the flight/gate attendants to get your family together... beyond obnoxious. It is cheaper for a reason.
Like others, I disagree with this sentiment. If the airline allows for these tickets to be booked for passengers that cannot be seated alone, then the onus is on the airline to accommodate. They could easily alter the booking system such that passengers under a certain age (i.e. the age to travel alone) are not permitted to book in Basic Economy. Since they choose not to do so they should deal with the consequences. This is basic customer service and a problem of their own creation. They hold all the power to solve the problem, if they choose to do so.
Fair enough. You are that person and that is your decision.

scophreak
Posts: 78
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by scophreak » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:51 pm

MotoTrojan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:48 pm
scophreak wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:16 pm
MotoTrojan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:08 pm
Don't be that person who saves the $400 and then bothers the flight/gate attendants to get your family together... beyond obnoxious. It is cheaper for a reason.
Like others, I disagree with this sentiment. If the airline allows for these tickets to be booked for passengers that cannot be seated alone, then the onus is on the airline to accommodate. They could easily alter the booking system such that passengers under a certain age (i.e. the age to travel alone) are not permitted to book in Basic Economy. Since they choose not to do so they should deal with the consequences. This is basic customer service and a problem of their own creation. They hold all the power to solve the problem, if they choose to do so.
Fair enough. You are that person and that is your decision.
Again...this is something that was mandated by Congress in 2016. I'm the bad guy for not paying for something that Congress has mandated the airlines provide for free? In what crazy world is that logical?

MotoTrojan
Posts: 7614
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by MotoTrojan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:53 pm

scophreak wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:51 pm
MotoTrojan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:48 pm
scophreak wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:16 pm
MotoTrojan wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:08 pm
Don't be that person who saves the $400 and then bothers the flight/gate attendants to get your family together... beyond obnoxious. It is cheaper for a reason.
Like others, I disagree with this sentiment. If the airline allows for these tickets to be booked for passengers that cannot be seated alone, then the onus is on the airline to accommodate. They could easily alter the booking system such that passengers under a certain age (i.e. the age to travel alone) are not permitted to book in Basic Economy. Since they choose not to do so they should deal with the consequences. This is basic customer service and a problem of their own creation. They hold all the power to solve the problem, if they choose to do so.
Fair enough. You are that person and that is your decision.
Again...this is something that was mandated by Congress in 2016. I'm the bad guy for not paying for something that Congress has mandated the airlines provide for free? In what crazy world is that logical?
I totally agree and the airlines should be the one to fix this (surprised they haven't, it would seem quite easy to implement a hard-no on economy basic for travelers with minors) but there are countless examples in life of having law/regulation on your side, and still being a bother/cheat.

7eight9
Posts: 464
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Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by 7eight9 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:57 pm

No idea how the seating situation is going to work out for you. I took a United flight a couple of years ago to Narita. Deserted. Literally deserted. Every passenger had a row to themselves. And a lot of rows were empty. Your flight? Maybe busier.

If your children are well behaved and have something to amuse them then I wouldn't necessarily worry about where they sit. Sitting next to a kid can beat sitting next to someone who takes up more than their fair share of space. I can put on headphones and tune someone out. I can't take back space that is being encroached upon.

As a matter of preference my wife and I sit apart (sometimes side by side if available) in aisle seats. We wouldn't switch with you (unless it was another aisle seat) if you weren't paying for our trouble. Not saying that other passengers wouldn't be more accommodating.

If I was you I would give it a try. If it doesn't work out then you know for next time.
I guess it all could be much worse. | They could be warming up my hearse.

rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by rjbraun » Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:08 pm

7eight9 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:57 pm
No idea how the seating situation is going to work out for you. I took a United flight a couple of years ago to Narita. Deserted. Literally deserted. Every passenger had a row to themselves. And a lot of rows were empty. Your flight? Maybe busier.

If your children are well behaved and have something to amuse them then I wouldn't necessarily worry about where they sit. Sitting next to a kid can beat sitting next to someone who takes up more than their fair share of space. I can put on headphones and tune someone out. I can't take back space that is being encroached upon.

As a matter of preference my wife and I sit apart (sometimes side by side if available) in aisle seats. We wouldn't switch with you (unless it was another aisle seat) if you weren't paying for our trouble. Not saying that other passengers wouldn't be more accommodating.

If I was you I would give it a try. If it doesn't work out then you know for next time.
28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:53 am
<snip>
But I don't want any of my kids to be seated in a totally different part of the plane away from any parents. <snip>
I guess it depends how much of a risk-taker OP is as well as perhaps the duration of the flights. With Basic Economy and three kids in total to manage seating for, the chances of separation would seem to be something greater than zero.

TN_Boy
Posts: 1367
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by TN_Boy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:12 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:35 pm
I can't imagine how you travel with three little kids and bring no luggage at all, unless you are paying to check a bag or two.
We do it routinely. We are very lean and don't bring luggage even if it's free. We are visiting family and have everything we need on the other end of the flight. Anything in the middle can be bought in the airport.
I may be a jerk, but I wouldn't switch seats to accommodate your three year old. I've got kids and I understand traveling with kids. But I think it's pretty inconsiderate to expect people to give up their seats so that you can save a few bucks.
It's not a few bucks. It's like $400-500. More than any of the individual tickets cost.

you cannot upgrade basic fares, full stop
Not upgrade, but United website said that we can still choose to purchase seat assignments up until check-in time. That's the only benefit we really care about.
Part of what is going on, of course, is that traveling by air in any form of economy seating is cramped and often quite frustrating. Thus when somebody makes their seating issue somebody else's problem by asking a random person to move, it is not surprising that people are unhappy about it.

And we do travel with carry-on baggage, so if we have to move because you get our seats, we wind up either having to hold things up while we move our carry-ons (which may not be possible late in the boarding stage) or we are separated from those carry-ons, which I don't like -- I want to have my eyes on where my baggage is (and sometimes I have stuff stowed in them I'll pull out later in the flight). Your $50 would just annoy me, unless 1) I was traveling alone and 2) there were comparable seats available. Actually if 1) and 2) were true, you might not need to give me money ... but 1) and 2) are usually not true for me.

I agree it would be nice to save $500, but you are *potentially* making your cost issue somebody else's problem. I hope whatever you try works out okay. Traveling is stressful .... try not to add extra stress to some other traveler. If you get separated from the kids, remember that was your choice. And don't glare at the people who wanted to keep the seats they paid for!

jminv
Posts: 1017
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by jminv » Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:20 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:21 pm
Congress already passed rules against separating families with children 14 and under but the dept. of transportation won't enforce it.
Does anyone have any more information about this? I would like to know what laws and other rules exist at least to be informed.
The act directed the DOT to write a regulation to do a few different things. One part was about ensuring family seating for families booking on same ticket, another about having clear policies on family seating. DOT has not yet written regulation that would force an airline to seat families together so it's not an issue of enforcement so don't try citing it like the guy on FlyerTalk. It's not a regulation as of now. What DOT has basically done is that they've said that airlines have to have clear family seating policies (they do, check the DOT family seating website for links) and that they should try to accommodate families. In your case, United will 'do it's best' to accommodate families. This can work fine if the plane isn't very full but that's not very common. Even if the plane isn't full, you can have problems with most windows and aisles being full leaving only middles. Basic economy is designed to get the most people possible not to buy it by making it as unattractive as possible while allowing competitive pricing on the flight search sites.

My own experience with this is as a customer being asked to give up an aisle seat for a middle farther back multiple times or to give up an aisle to take a window in another row on a long haul so that a couple can sit together. I don't change seats unless it's for a near equivalent. It's interesting that people suggested offering money because I have yet to see this. I have seen people with seats that the parents or couples want suggest it but never any offers. People think they should get it for free and usually try to get the flight attendant to do the dirty work for them if this doesn't work. I've noticed that flight attendants are becoming much less receptive to getting involved. As the child gets older, fewer people will be willing to come to your help. The longer the flight, the fewer the people willing to make a switch too. I have seen this play out with the gate agents too and if they can't accommodate it ends in 'ask other passengers to switch once you're on board'.

Few people want to sit next to clearly irritable children. Children get irritable for, among many different things, not being given food for a long time and waiting until after the flight leaves to rectify this situation I've seen this happen, very few people want to sit next to a misbehaving child. In any case, you're taking a risk that you won't be seated how you would like. If you're fine with that, then go ahead.

Southwest isn't an option or isn't price competitive?

muddgirl
Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:33 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by muddgirl » Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:32 pm

From what I can tell the youngest age for unaccompanied minors is 5 years old, so it is possible they will allow you to book a seat next to your 4 year old and not the other two. I suppose you could try to make a Basic Economy booking and see if it lets you choose seats.

OnTrack2020
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:24 am

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by OnTrack2020 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:09 pm

I would not take the chance of having your family split up since you have young children. Even flying Southwest, you are not guaranteed sitting together. When they are teens, that is the time to have them sitting in another section of the plane. :)

Pay the extra dollars.

MichCPA
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:06 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by MichCPA » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:43 pm

United Economy basic is Spirit with 1 extra inch of legroom. No thanks.

Add me to the list that won't give up an aisle seat for a Basic Econ passenger.

MichCPA
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:06 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by MichCPA » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:49 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:23 pm
Learner1 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:38 am
I thought that with Basic Economy, carry-on bags were all that is allowed and that checked bags incur an extra fee. This is my experience flying Basic Economy on an American Airlines transatlantic flight.
That is standard Economy, sometimes called Coach, or in the case of AA, Main Cabin. Domestic routes have no free baggage, long-haul have one. Basic Economy also has charges for checked bags (including on long-haul routes), but carry-ons are prohibited, you board last (so there would be no room for your carryon anyway), and get whatever seat is left when you get to the gate. They're also not refundable or changeable (except for IRROPS), eligible for upgrades, standby, same day flight change, etc. One way in which AA apparently differs from UA is that their reservation system does automatically try to seat anyone under 14 with an adult.
Depends on the airline, AA and Delta give you a carry on (even for domestic). United gives you the short end and you don't have an included carry on.

InvisibleAerobar
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:33 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:05 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:03 pm
So what if nobody offers to switch and the seat for the kid is a center seat away from parents? That's a serious question, I do not know what happens in that situation. Do they force a switch?
I don't know either. I can think of a few things that might happen. The people sitting next to the kid might complain. Or the airline could offer somebody compensation for somebody to switch their seat, the way they offer compensation for people to take different flights. I have never heard of it happening though. For $400 savings, I'm still considering pushing forward and seeing what happens. I might also carry a $50 bill in my pocket, in case somebody complains about having to switch a seat they paid for. I would much rather pay $50 to somebody to switch their seat, than pay $400 for 5 assigned seats that I might not even need.
in what world is that remotely fair? You are saving to the tune of $80/ticket, yet you offer $50/seat to someone who has presumably also had to pay $80 extra to get that specific seat (if the other person was also in basic economy, no big deal, as s/he just pocketed $50, but if s/he had to pay for the privilege)? Should this hypothetical other person magnanimously eat the $30/seat cost to further your desire to save money?

Shouldn't you be offering at least something like $120/seat to entice others?

stoptothink
Posts: 6791
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by stoptothink » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:09 pm

InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:05 pm
28fe6 wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:03 pm
So what if nobody offers to switch and the seat for the kid is a center seat away from parents? That's a serious question, I do not know what happens in that situation. Do they force a switch?
I don't know either. I can think of a few things that might happen. The people sitting next to the kid might complain. Or the airline could offer somebody compensation for somebody to switch their seat, the way they offer compensation for people to take different flights. I have never heard of it happening though. For $400 savings, I'm still considering pushing forward and seeing what happens. I might also carry a $50 bill in my pocket, in case somebody complains about having to switch a seat they paid for. I would much rather pay $50 to somebody to switch their seat, than pay $400 for 5 assigned seats that I might not even need.
in what world is that remotely fair? You are saving to the tune of $80/ticket, yet you offer $50/seat to someone who has presumably also had to pay $80 extra to get that specific seat (if the other person was also in basic economy, no big deal, as s/he just pocketed $50, but if s/he had to pay for the privilege)? Should this hypothetical other person magnanimously eat the $30/seat cost to further your desire to save money?

Shouldn't you be offering at least something like $120/seat to entice others?
You know, the person being offered can say no.

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2805
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:18 pm

You have a way to sit together - pay the price that gives you that option.

I would not trade seats to let you sit together, because I paid for my seat and don't want to give you for free what I paid for. $50 is an insultingly low amount of money to offer, try $500. I would still say no, but someone might budge.

And if the departure is delayed because you are trying to negotiate a massive seat swap so solve a problem you created, a planeload of people are going to resent you and your family.

But you do you.

JediMisty
Posts: 416
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:06 am
Location: Central NJ

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by JediMisty » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:40 pm

HomeStretch wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:28 am
Pay for the plane class of service that allows you to select seats in advance so you can keep your family in one or two groups.

Why leave this to chance when you board? In the event you can’t get seats together because you opted not to pay for pre-boarding seat selection, why delay takeoff or inconvenience other travelers by asking them to move? With 3 small kids, protect them from the possibility of sitting alone next to strangers.
+1. I oftentimes travel alone and have been cajoled, then pressured to give up my aisle seat for other people's convenience. I paid the fare so that I can choose my seat and don't want to sit next to a minor who is most likely upset to be away from their parents nor do I want to be pressured to give up my seat. And for the record, people don't graciously take no for an answer. Since this is anonymous, there are medical reasons I need to be able to reach the bathroom quickly. Please don't assume that moving shouldn't matter to others especially those of us who are traveling alone....

Bacchus01
Posts: 3182
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: First-hand experiences with United Basic Economy for families?

Post by Bacchus01 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:50 pm

coalcracker wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:30 pm
TN_Boy wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:01 pm
muddgirl wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:41 am
I have flown United quite a bit recently, sometimes basic economy and sometimes with friends who booked basic economy. If the plane is rather empty then the gate agents have had no problems assigning seats near each other. If the plane is full, they will not reseat anyone with assigned seats to keep family together. this can result in a lot of negotiation and seat shuffling but then you are depending on the kindness of strangers.
I am trying to remember the last time I flew on a plane that was "rather empty!"

OP, if you do this, do understand that either you are going to inconvenience somebody by making them switch (if they are willing.... I probably wouldn't be ....) or your children may be sitting next to strangers. Do the kids travel well? How long are the flights?
Let's be real: no one is going to let a 2-6 year old child sit next to strangers. But I agree that it will be inconveniencing someone with the switch. Honestly I wish airlines would not even offer this class of fare in which seats were unassigned, but I guess it's appealing to some (mostly solo?) travelers.
What? You would obviously be surprised. After some bad experiences, I will never give up my seat again. If you knowingly cheaper out, that’s your problem. It seems harsh, but the rules are very clear.

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