Frustrated United customers say they didn’t realize they were purchasing ‘basic economy’ tickets (UAL, EXPE, PCLN)

United AirlinesSome United Airlines customers are saying that travel websites do not give adequate warning about what is included with a basic economy ticket.David Goldman/AP Photo

United Airlines is going to great lengths to try and warn customers about the restrictions placed on its new basic economy tickets.

But some of the travel booking sites like and Priceline that sell tickets for the airline are not as clear about the new fare’s limitations.

Since launching its basic economy tickets, United has been alerting customers before check out about the fare’s stringent limitations, such as no seat changes and no carry-ons. Customers who purchase the tickets on United’s site must acknowledge that they understand the restrictions before they are allowed to purchase. The company is even sending follow-up emails to make sure that customers know what they have signed up for.

However, when customers purchase basic economy seats on travel sites, the rules about basic economy seats can be easy to miss.

For example, when searching for airline tickets on, the words “Basic Economy” are shown under the fare price. But a user must click on the phrase for the restrictions to appear.

Expedia Screenshot Screenshot/Expedia

However, it isn’t until after the user selects the ticket and is taken to the “Trip Summary” page that any information is listed about the rules of basic economy seats. And even then, details about what is included with the basic economy fare is listed in small font in the right-hand column.

Expedia ScreenshotsScreenshots/Expedia

A spokesperson for Expedia told Business Insider that if a customer clicks on “Show More” under each fare class that the restrictions will appear.

But at no point is a user forced to acknowledge that they understand what is included with the new fair when purchasing on Expedia as they are on United’s website.

Business Insider’s Sarah Jacobs writes that she was confused after booking a flight and realizing she signed up for Basic Economy.

On Orbitz, which is owned by Expedia Inc, the experience is similar.

While the Expedia spokesperson said that they make the flight choices clear on their site, some users disagree.

A number of customers have reached out to Expedia and United via Twitter to tell them that they didn’t realize the tickets they purchased came with such restrictions.

@Expedia I am locked into basic economy for a United flight. I signed up for regular economy. The page reloaded and it showed basic. #help

— Winston Dawson (@winstondawson) June 19, 2017

@Expedia please ensure that @united “basic economy” seats are clearly explained before booking. Did not appreciate the new class

— shubhakar_rao (@shubhakar_rao) June 15, 2017

BEWARE! Just booked a flight through @Expedia on #UnitedAirlines and there’s a new “basic” economy ticket they tell you about AFTER booking

— Joe Raffa (@The_Joe_Raffa) June 13, 2017

“We, of course, continue to work with suppliers to ensure customers can clearly see the all the information they need in searching and booking,” the Expedia spokesperson said.

Expedia and Orbitz, though, are not the only travel sites where restrictions about basic economy tickets are easy to miss.

We checked out the buying process for United Airlines’ tickets on Priceline and noticed that basic economy tickets are not marked at all in the initial search results.

PricelineThe top ticket priced at $181.20 is a United Basic Economy ticket, however, it is not marked as such.Screenshot/Priceline

It wasn’t until after we selected the top ticket priced at $181.20 that information about restrictions appeared in small print below the flight details.

Ticket info 1Screenshot/Priceline

After choosing to continue with the purchase, more information appeared about the ticket selection. However, the only restriction listed for the basic economy fare was that the buyer could not select a seat.

Seat selectionScreenshot/Priceline

We tried the search again and more restriction information was displayed, however, so it’s possible there is a glitch.

Priceline did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why United’s Basic Economy tickets are not more clearly marked on its site. However, a United spokesperson told Business Insider that it is continually working with its partners to help ensure that travelers know they are aware of the restrictions.

The spokesperson said that United has even pulled its tickets from some sites where information about basic economy was not clearly shown. In these instances, the airline did not allow the travel agencies to sell their tickets again until updates to the site were made.

The United spokesperson said the company will continue to monitor partner sites to make sure restrictions are displayed correctly and ask its partners to make adjustments when needed.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Popular

To Top