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United's Plan to Boost Revenue: Slimmer Seats, More Chances to Upgrade

United Airlines, which has been struggling since a merger with Continental in 2010, outlined yesterday its plan for boosting revenue. The big news for price-sensitive travelers: by the end of the year, the airline will introduce "basic economy" entry-level fares, similar to a program Delta offers (American Airlines is expected to add basic economy fares soon, too). United hasn't yet explained what you'll get for these no-frills tickets, but it looks like the plan is to get more money out of you by offering upgrades—perks such as access to priority security lanes and a free checked bag. Before we can determine whether the new fares are truly a bargain, we'd have to know what comes with them and what counts as a perk. For instance, will United start charging for something that used to be free, like being able to pick your own seat?

And speaking of seats on United planes, there will soon be more of them and they'll be slimmer—another aspect of the company's efforts to squeeze as much revenue as possible out of every flight.