Last updated: 12:10 PM ET, Wed November 16 2016

United’s New Carry-On Rules Likely To Cause A Stir

Airlines & Airports | United Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | November 16, 2016

United’s New Carry-On Rules Likely To Cause A Stir

PHOTO: Under United’s new Basic Economy fare, passengers will not be able to utilize the overhead bins. (Courtesy Thinkstock)

United Airlines on Tuesday announced its new “Basic Economy” fares for 2017, designed to compete with no-frills, low-fare competitors without cheapening the brand.

But with every give, there’s a take. And some fliers won’t like this latest trade-off in return for a cheaper ticket – unless you’re an elite status member with United, you won’t be able to bring a full-size carry-on bag on the flight.

That’s right, for the cheapest fare possible you give up the luxury of a carry-on that will now have to be checked as regular luggage. United will only allow passengers with Basic Economy tickets to bring one item on board that can be stowed under the seat in front of them.

Basically, your cheap ticket bans you from the overhead bins.

Also, customers who choose Basic Economy will be assigned seats on the day of departure – meaning passengers traveling together could be separated from sitting with each other.

It’s all part of a master plan to restructure fares in the hopes of generating $4.8 billion in earnings by 2020.

"As we approach the new year, our operations are running well, our employees are more energized than ever, and we are ready to unlock United's full potential," United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. "Today, we are talking about what's next for United. We now have the strategy and organization in place to be the best airline in the world – for employees, customers and investors."

United says the new offering “provides the added benefit for customers and employees of simplifying the boarding process, as fewer customers will bring overhead bags on board.”

Some aren’t so sure about that.

But travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Traveller.com that Delta has a similar basic economy structure in which tickets are just $10-$20 less than typical economy fares. On Delta, however, you can bring a carry-on; on United, any savings in that range would be wiped out by checking a bag for $25.

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