United Airlines Will Start Charging for Use of Overhead Bins

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Remember your last flight when you told yourself that at least flying couldn’t get any worse? Well, it’s about to get worse. United Airlines will soon start charging some customers for the privilege to use the overhead bins.

United has announced a “new tier” of ticket, as the company calls it. The airline’s cheapest flights will now be called Basic Economy, and if you want to store something in the overhead bin, that’ll cost you extra. Passengers will be able to bring a carry-on that fits underneath the seat in front of them. But don’t even think about putting something above you. That’s for people who paid more.

Of course, the airline is positioning this move as providing “more options” for customers. But it seems like providing more “choice” always comes with a fee for something customers used to get for free.


“Customers have told us that they want more choice and Basic Economy delivers just that,” Julia Haywood, executive vice president at United said in a hilarious news release. “By offering low fares while also offering the experience of traveling on our outstanding network, with a variety of onboard amenities and great customer service, we are giving our customers an additional travel option from what United offers today.”

Want to hear another fun aspect of “choice” that Basic Economy provides? Passengers won’t get an assigned seat until the day they depart.


What do you suppose will be next? A fee for your jacket? A fee to have someplace to put your feet? If you’d told me a decade ago that an airline would start charging for use of the overhead bins, I don’t think I would’ve believed you. So there’s really no new airline fee that would surprise me at this point?


We’ve reached out to United to ask about this new fee and will update this post with whatever positive spin the company tries to put on it when we hear back.

Update, 12:35pm: United just sent Gizmodo a statement, and it’s every bit as spin-tastic as you’d expect:

We are not implementing additional restrictions on our customers, or taking anything away from them. United has announced a brand new fare called Basic Economy that is an additional option for customers and that will be cheaper than our regular Economy fares. For customers that are interested in bringing a carryon, our regular Economy fare will still be available. Furthermore, customers who purchase a Basic Economy fare with their Chase MileagePlus credit card will still receive priority boarding in group 2, and will be able to bring a carryon bag to stow in the overhead bins.


So I guess if you really think about it, you should be thanking United for all the freedom they’re giving you with so many new choices. Thanks, United.

[Washington Post]