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Basic Economy not allowed to check-in 24 hrs prior

Jan 23, 2020
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Booked a Basic Economy fare. Everything I saw on website said check-in would be available 24 hours prior. When I went to check-in, I was unable due to their requirement that I had to see a United agent at the airport because I had not added any luggage. There was no mention of this extreme policy when I purchased this ticket and there should be if they are going to be this draconian.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
Booked a Basic Economy fare. Everything I saw on website said check-in would be available 24 hours prior. When I went to check-in, I was unable due to their requirement that I had to see a United agent at the airport because I had not added any luggage. There was no mention of this extreme policy when I purchased this ticket and there should be if they are going to be this draconian.
Since you cannot get a seat assignment with basic econ, why is it important to check in 24 hrs in advance?
 
Jul 13, 2016
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I agree that sounds strange. When did you buy the ticket and did you book directly with UA, or through a third-party like Expedia?
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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From UA web site under Basic Econ: " With Basic Economy, you'll only be able to check in for your flight through united.com or the United app if you indicate that you're checking a bag. To check your bag, you'll go to a check-in counter or designated kiosk in the airport lobby. If you begin check-in and do not indicate that you're checking a bag, you'll need to finish checking in for your flight at the airport. "
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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From UA web site under Basic Econ: " With Basic Economy, you'll only be able to check in for your flight through united.com or the United app if you indicate that you're checking a bag. To check your bag, you'll go to a check-in counter or designated kiosk in the airport lobby. If you begin check-in and do not indicate that you're checking a bag, you'll need to finish checking in for your flight at the airport. "
That's obnoxious of them. Thanks for researching.
 
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Barry Graham

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I agree except that free baggage is not a perk you lose by choosing basic economy.
 
Apr 3, 2016
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The only thing I can think of is because United Basic Economy does not allow you to bring a carryon, only a small personal item. Maybe they are forcing you to check in person to ensure you do not have a carryon?? I guess they think people do not travel without any luggage (either carryon or checked).
 
May 30, 2019
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I agree except that free baggage is not a perk you lose by choosing basic economy.
On UA, free overhead baggage is a perk you lose on most flights.

Here is UA's description of Basic Economy: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/inflight/basic-economy.html

"On trans-Atlantic flights, your carry-on baggage allowance is the same as for standard Economy tickets.

For all other Basic Economy tickets, you're not allowed a full-sized carry-on bag unless you're a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance™ Gold member. Everyone else who brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate will be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge.

So, yes, UA is forcing passengers to check in at the airport, often printing a specialty-marked boarding pass to ensure they don't carry overhead-sized carry-on bags on the plane."

This is where someone typically posts to book directly with an airline vs an OTA for the facts, so I'll say it here.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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As many have noted UAs basic economy is more restrictive for the non status passenger than some other airlines.

A passenger has to check in at airport for the baggage check— the airline does not want delays at the gate with someone trying to take a larger piece (ie not fitting under seat in front) and hoping it slips by. Non status BE passengers board last — when the overhead is often full.

And this is done to prevent people from gaming the system.

I do not like basic Economy but I have met people who do— such as students flying from college home to parents who do not need to check a bag or have a large carry on as they have enough clothes at home.
 
May 1, 2018
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There was no mention of this extreme policy when I purchased this ticket and there should be if they are going to be this draconian.
Look I hate United airlines because they basically own the nearest airport and I'm forced to used them. But is this really something that is extreme or draconian? If you're not checking a bag you just walk up to a carry on-only kiosk at the terminal and check in - it takes less than 60 seconds to complete. I can agree it's mildly inconvenient, but extreme and draconian? Let's not make mountains out of molehills.
 
Jan 23, 2020
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From UA web site under Basic Econ: " With Basic Economy, you'll only be able to check in for your flight through united.com or the United app if you indicate that you're checking a bag. To check your bag, you'll go to a check-in counter or designated kiosk in the airport lobby. If you begin check-in and do not indicate that you're checking a bag, you'll need to finish checking in for your flight at the airport. "
After the fact, I did find these additional restrictions above that prevent you from checking in on-line but I found them at a separate section of the UA website that dealt with frequently asked questions. But when I booked directly with UA, there was no mention of that restriction in the booking process, even though the United website forced you to review the Basic Economy restrictions concerning No Complimentary Seat Selection and No full size carry on. My point is that UA should inform you of this restriction during the booking process so you know what you are buying.
As far as why it bothers me: 1) I know I can meet the personal items 9x10x17" restriction without checking a bag, so any additional restrictions imposed on me should be clearly defined in the purchasing sequence (BTW- I have done this before with other airlines and have never been prevented from getting a boarding pass because I didn't check a bag (so yea it is somewhat draconian)), 2) having a boarding pass ahead saves me time, sometimes significant time, if the ticket counter line is long, 3) I like to know prior to airport arrival if I will be TSA precheck so I can better manage my time and expectations.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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After the fact, I did find these additional restrictions above that prevent you from checking in on-line but I found them at a separate section of the UA website that dealt with frequently asked questions. But when I booked directly with UA, there was no mention of that restriction in the booking process, even though the United website forced you to review the Basic Economy restrictions concerning No Complimentary Seat Selection and No full size carry on. My point is that UA should inform you of this restriction during the booking process so you know what you are buying.
As far as why it bothers me: 1) I know I can meet the personal items 9x10x17" restriction without checking a bag, so any additional restrictions imposed on me should be clearly defined in the purchasing sequence (BTW- I have done this before with other airlines and have never been prevented from getting a boarding pass because I didn't check a bag (so yea it is somewhat draconian)), 2) having a boarding pass ahead saves me time, sometimes significant time, if the ticket counter line is long, 3) I like to know prior to airport arrival if I will be TSA precheck so I can better manage my time and expectations.
Did you pay for the TSA precheck program? If you didn’t, assume you don’t get it and arrive at the airport two hours before your flight is supposed to leave to make sure you will not have any problems.

An airline cannot post every single detail about a ticket type- it’s up to the buyer to research. Having to check in at the desk wouldn’t bother me at all - I think they want to ensure your carry on is small enough to get under your seat. Remember- you will be in the last boarding group and if your carry on doesn’t fit under your seat, they may require you to gate check it.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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FOR OUR OTHER READERS "Basic Economy" is the latest fad, and certain pax seem to like spending less money for a flight. If you want to book a basic econ tix, be sure you read all the information, rules, regs, all of it, so you are not buying something that will not serve you well. The internet is a fun game, but it is not your friend.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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After the fact, I did find these additional restrictions above that prevent you from checking in on-line but I found them at a separate section of the UA website that dealt with frequently asked questions. But when I booked directly with UA, there was no mention of that restriction in the booking process, even though the United website forced you to review the Basic Economy restrictions concerning No Complimentary Seat Selection and No full size carry on. My point is that UA should inform you of this restriction during the booking process so you know what you are buying.
As far as why it bothers me: 1) I know I can meet the personal items 9x10x17" restriction without checking a bag, so any additional restrictions imposed on me should be clearly defined in the purchasing sequence (BTW- I have done this before with other airlines and have never been prevented from getting a boarding pass because I didn't check a bag (so yea it is somewhat draconian)), 2) having a boarding pass ahead saves me time, sometimes significant time, if the ticket counter line is long, 3) I like to know prior to airport arrival if I will be TSA precheck so I can better manage my time and expectations.
When one books there own travel one acts as there own travel agent and has to do the research.

UA has a more rigid basic economy -- Delta and American allow for a carry on for overhead -- the Basic Economy for UA is not the same as Basic Economy for other airlines -- and that may be why one can check in online with other airlines.

But then I have to look at the airfares now -- and compare them to a decade or two ago and note how inexpensive it is.

If a traveler cannot be bothered to research and click the links, then pay a travel agent to do the work for you. There comes a time when personal responsibility comes into play.
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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Look I hate United airlines because they basically own the nearest airport and I'm forced to used them. But is this really something that is extreme or draconian? If you're not checking a bag you just walk up to a carry on-only kiosk at the terminal and check in - it takes less than 60 seconds to complete. I can agree it's mildly inconvenient, but extreme and draconian? Let's not make mountains out of molehills.
Because it forces you into arriving at the airport earlier than you might otherwise.
 
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Neil Maley

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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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Because it forces you into arriving at the airport earlier than you might otherwise.
Recommended time to arrive at an airport is 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 for international. Luckily the OP now knows this for his flight so he won’t have to come back here saying he missed his flight because of the check in issue.
 
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Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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After the fact, I did find these additional restrictions above that prevent you from checking in on-line but I found them at a separate section of the UA website that dealt with frequently asked questions. But when I booked directly with UA, there was no mention of that restriction in the booking process, even though the United website forced you to review the Basic Economy restrictions concerning No Complimentary Seat Selection and No full size carry on. My point is that UA should inform you of this restriction during the booking process so you know what you are buying.
As far as why it bothers me: 1) I know I can meet the personal items 9x10x17" restriction without checking a bag, so any additional restrictions imposed on me should be clearly defined in the purchasing sequence (BTW- I have done this before with other airlines and have never been prevented from getting a boarding pass because I didn't check a bag (so yea it is somewhat draconian)), 2) having a boarding pass ahead saves me time, sometimes significant time, if the ticket counter line is long, 3) I like to know prior to airport arrival if I will be TSA precheck so I can better manage my time and expectations.
So, under this ticket choice, can you not use the un-manned kiosks rather than wait to see a ticket agent at the counter? I have never purchased a basic economy ticket nor do I check baggage so I always use the kiosks to print my boarding pass.
 
Sep 4, 2019
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So, under this ticket choice, can you not use the un-manned kiosks rather than wait to see a ticket agent at the counter? I have never purchased a basic economy ticket nor do I check baggage so I always use the kiosks to print my boarding pass.
You can use an unmanned kiosk, but it will cause a light to start flashing until an attendant comes over to swipe their badge and approve your (lack of) luggage.

Recommended time to arrive at an airport is 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 for international. Luckily the OP now knows this for his flight so he won’t have to come back here saying he missed his flight because of the check in issue.
The issue I’ve had is that, since now most of each flight must check in in person, the check in lines are slow and understaffed. Add this to the TSA wait for popular flight times at an airport like Denver and you should probably tack on another hour. For someone who flies lots of long day trips with just a mini backpack for a cheap employer, it makes United a really awful choice. And I tell them that in every survey they send me.
 
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