United Airlines to debut Basic Economy fares in Minneapolis

United Airlines hopes to debut its Basic Economy fares in Minneapolis and they could be on offer as soon as the first quarter of this year, according to company president Scott Kirby.

''We're still working through the final – making sure everything is done, everything works right,'' Kirby told reporters on a quarterly earnings call yesterday. ''Coming soon.''

Minneapolis-St. Paul was chosen as the carrier's flights from there connect to the rest its hubs. Also workers there were familiar with rolling out new products, he said.

''We're going to roll it out there to make sure everything works,'' he said.

Also ''ultra low-cost'' rivals, whom the Basic Economy fares were meant to compete against had expanded their presence there. Spirit especially, had seen major expansion in Minneapolis in recent years and now offered at least seasonal service to over a dozen destinations from the airport. Also, Delta which notably was the first big airline to roll out Basic Economy fares, operated a major hub at Minneapolis.

According to Kirby, once United's Basic Economy fares debuted at Minneapolis-St. Paul, they would be likely expanded to the rest of United's domestic system and to its Caribbean flights. They also could also be rolled out on long-haul flights after that, though Kirby said that remained to be seen.

"American Airlines now has something to offer every customer, from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class," American Airlines president Robert Isom said in a statement.

Isom added that the new fare class was designed to put American in a better position to compete against the growing presence of ultra-low-cost carriers.

However, commentators, point out that buying the cheapest ticket also meant travelers would have to do without many of the amenities that had traditionally been considered obligatory in modern air travel.