United Airlines Basic Economy

Deliverables: Competitive Analysis, User Flows, User Stories, Multi-Channel Design, Wireframes, Prototypes, Comps, Usability Testing
Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Sketch, Invision, Axure


Basic Economy is a fare class designed for travelers that are willing to give up certain amenities such as seat selection and flight changes, to save money. Because of the unique restrictions on the product, integrating it into United's existing fare classes proved to be a technical and UX challenge.

Basic Economy is also United E-commerce's first Agile project. As the lead designer, I created the end-to-end experience for users through wireframes, user flows, comps, prototypes, and more. I worked closely with the product manager, QA team, and engineers to create the best product while advocating for the user.

Project Scope and Process

The scope of the project included 3 main areas of the customer journey: Booking, Manage Reservation, and Check In. The scope also included web, mobile, and airport kiosk channels. The design examples in this portfolio piece pertain to the booking experience across web and mobile.

The project kicked off with an Inception phase or Sprint 0, where the team identified all the potential user stories to be executed in subsequent sprints. The team consisted of myself, 1 product manager, 1 business analyst, 2 QA resources, and several engineers representing different code bases and teams. Within our WAR room, I created a "mockup wall" so that I could easily walkthrough the Basic Economy journey and share updates to the design.

Each sprint involved daily standups, desk checks with engineers, and 24-hour video conferencing with our IT team in Houston. As a team, we mapped out dependencies and prioritized each user story in terms of importance for launch; I made sure to play a vocal part in prioritization so that the user's voice was represented. The project was estimated to run for 12 sprints.


As mentioned earlier, Basic Economy is United's response to Delta's Basic Economy or Spirit Airlines' products. The fare has several rules:

Screen Flows

Because the product has so many rules, I created detailed screen flows for each scenario of purchasing a Basic Economy fare. Also since the project was being executed through discrete Agile user stories, it was important to tie each user story back to the overall flow of the experience. The screen flow below illustrates the experience of purchasing an Basic Economy ticket on the web and mobile:


I built prototypes in Axure and Invision for 4 external usability sessions to test Basic Economy fares. The sessions were invaluable in gauging user comprehension of these new fares and their restrictions, and after each round I incorporated feedback into my designs. Below are the prototypes we used in one of the usability sessions.

Specific User Stories

Decision Modal

After the user selects a Basic Economy fare on the outbound flight, a decision modal appears. The goal of this modal is to explain the restrictions of Basic Economy while presenting an upsell opportunity.

Some of the main considerations in this design were copy, layout of the modal, and relative vs. absolute pricing on the button labels. We also put a lot of analysis into the necessity of the checkbox. Below are some of the my deliverables for this design: the first image represents the design with accessibility notes and the second shows redlines.

Here is how the design translated into mobile.

Fare Comparison Modal

Another modal in the design was a the fare comparison. The user can access this modal from the flight shopping page to see the differences between fare options. Since we were adding a new fare type with this project, I thought it was critical to implement this design to help users make a clear and informed decision.

The image on the left is the current state fare comparison - clearly not the most helpful content. The image on the right shows the design that I proposed.


Basic Economy was United's first e-commerce project to launch working code in a shareable environment within 2 weeks - something the team was very proud of! The product is currently available on the site in certain markets.

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