United has a new marketing approach borrowed from Spirit Airlines: warn customers of the awfulness of its product.
MileagePlus Premier members are being emailed with a ‘recommendation’ to not buy United’s basic economy (emphasis added):
Because you are a MileagePlus® Premier® member, we know you value using your benefits and earning Premier qualifying credit to maintain status. That’s why we want to be sure you’re aware of our newest fare option, called Basic Economy, which is available on select routes and in addition to standard United Economy® fares. Created for our customers who may be more price-sensitive, these lower-priced fares come with some important restrictions, including no upgrades, no Economy Plus® seating and no Premier qualifying credit, among other restrictions. If these benefits are valuable to you, then we recommend choosing a standard Economy ticket for your future travel.
The standard product comparison chart, say a software with basic and pro versions, will list a few check marks of included features on the basic, then a bunch more for the pro. With United basic economy, it is entirely bad news:
Typically, with a Basic Economy ticket you would not be allowed a full-sized carry-on bag4, but because you are a MileagePlus Premier member, you will receive this benefit as well as your standard priority boarding privileges. Primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card will also be allowed these same exceptions.
Economy fares are typically $20-40 more than basic economy each way. United is going to a lot of trouble create a crap product and marketing its crappiness, just to try to squeeze out this premium.