United’s Fare Classes Explained

If you’ve been confused by the sheer number of airline ticket options and classifications, you’re not alone.

airplane taking off

Every airline does something a little bit different these days, which can be frustrating for travelers just trying to compare fares and buy smart. We like to keep things simple here at CheapAir.com – so we’re taking you on a tour of each airline’s offering. First up – United!

Basic Economy
United positions its Basic Economy as a ticket for the “price-sensitive.” It promises a journey with inflight services and amenities that come with United Economy fares, but with some important restrictions and limitations.

What’s Included:
  • Seat assignments after check in
  • Seat width ranges from 16”-18” depending on aircraft, Pitch varies from 31”- 34” depending on aircraft
  • One personal item
  • Complimentary beverage and meal/snack service
What’s Not Included:
  • No seat changes once you’ve boarded (you can pay for an upgrade in advance)
  • Group and family seating (unless you purchase seat assignments in advance)
  • Carry-on bags
  • Checked bag fee depending on trip route
  • No upgrades for Mileage Plus members

United Economy
Essentially, Economy gives travelers all the same inflight services and amenities as in Basic Economy without all those pesky restrictions.

What’s Included:
  • Seat assignments after check in
  • Seat width ranges from 16”-18” depending on aircraft, Pitch varies from 31” – 34” depending on aircraft
  • One personal item
  • One carry-on bag
  • Complimentary beverage and meal/snack service*
  • Upgrades available for Mileage Plus members
What’s Not Included:
  • Free seat assignments. Preferred seating and Economy Plus seating available as upgrade.
  • Checked bag fee depending on trip route

Economy Plus
If sitting toward the front of the airplane with extra legroom is important to you (up to 6” in some cases), Economy Plus is where that kicks in for customers. You can even purchase Economy Plus as a subscription for an entire year, when it’s available.

What’s Included:
  • Reclining seat with width 17”-19”depending on aircraft, Pitch varies from 34” – 38” depending on aircraft
  • One personal item
  • One carry-on bag
  • Complimentary beverage and meal/snack service*
  • Upgrades available for Mileage Plus members
What’s Not Included:
  • Premier Access which includes priority check in, security (where available) and boarding can be purchased as part of a flight “bundle”

United Premium Plus
Premium Plus tickets are available on a select number of premium transcontinental flights and select long-haul international flights, and offer more plush seating with adjustable leg and foot rests.

What’s Included:
  • Upgraded, reclining seat with width 17”-19”depending on aircraft, Pitch varies from 34” – 38” depending on aircraft
  • One personal item
  • One carry-on bag
  • Upgraded beverage and meal/snack service with complimentary alcoholic beverages*
  • Larger entertainment screen (up to 13”)
  • Premium amenities on select international flights
  • Dedicated overhead bins
What’s Not Included:
  • Premier Access which includes priority check in, security (where available) and boarding can be purchased as part of a flight “bundle”

United Business
United still offers Business Class as its gateway to a truly premium flight experience with a lot of extra perks included.

What’s Included:
  • Premier Access which includes priority check in, security (where available) and boarding
  • Leather reclining seat with width 20” – 24”depending on aircraft, Pitch varies from 75” – 78” depending on aircraft
  • Two checked bags free of charge
  • Priority baggage handling
  • One personal item
  • One carry-on bag
  • Upgraded signature chef meal service with complimentary premium alcoholic beverages*
  • Larger entertainment screen (up to 13”) with upgraded entertainment options including DirectTV
  • Premium amenities on select international flights
  • Dedicated overhead bins

United First
To be perfectly honest, the main difference between Business and First Class is the more spacious seating configuration. At the gate, First Class customers always board first.

What’s Included:
  • Premier Access which includes priority check in and security (where available)
  • Boarding group 1
  • Open suite or flat bed reclining seats with width 20” – 24”depending on aircraft, Pitch varies from 75” – 78” depending on aircraft
  • Two checked bags free of charge
  • Priority baggage handling
  • One personal item
  • One carry-on bag
  • Upgraded signature chef meal service with complimentary premium alcoholic beverages*
  • Larger entertainment screen (up to 13”) with upgraded entertainment options including DirectTV
  • Premium amenities on select international flights
  • Dedicated overhead bins

United Polaris
Those passengers who look for an elevated experience on international flights need look no further than United Polaris, the international premium business class experience. From start to finish, it’s the most elegant way to travel with luxurious upgrades from the airport lounge to landing, promising the most restful sleep in the air.

What’s Included:
  • Access to the Polaris lounge in select cities; complimentary pre-flight lounge dining and beverage service
  • Polaris seats provide forward-facing, flat bed seats that are 6’ x 6” long and 23” wide.
  • Privacy divider where two seats are next to one another.
  • Two checked bags free of charge
  • Priority baggage handling
  • One personal item
  • One carry-on bag
  • Saks Fifth Avenue bedding
  • Chef-designed multi-course meals and top shelf, complimentary beverage service*
  • Luxury amenity kit including slippers, skincare items and eye mask, pajamas (on flights longer than 12 hours)
  • Larger entertainment screen (up to 13”) with upgraded entertainment options including DirectTV
  • Dedicated overhead bins

Covid Policies
*Please check United’s Covid-19 page for a comprehensive list of policies and changes to on-board service in place to protect passengers at this time.

5 Comments

  1. I love Cheap Air and it’s payment options. I will be purchasing tickets for 2 from Norfolk, Virginia to Miami, Florida this coming week for the Christmas week from 12/22/20- 12-29-20.

  2. The carriers, especially United, have bullied passengers to the point of exasperation over this seat pitch and cabin service options.
    United wants more money, so makes it impossible for an average male to sit in Economy.
    The passenger wants, and deserves, transportation with a reasonable service product at a fair price.
    The result of this marketing crap, especially with United , is that I’ll choose any other carrier than United. Southwest has a better overall product.

  3. With all of the risks involved with COVID going on now, I am glad not to be going anywhere that requires a plane. Our last flight was miserable and since we can’t afford business or first class, we most likely will not be flying anywhere soon. Time to see the good old USA by car. How about some good old fashioned public service/ comfort , guys ? Make people want to fly your airline, above anyone else ! The only real way to make money is to spend some to start with.

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