These "bare fares" will have a low base price, with a-la-carte pricing for amenities like seat assignments, frequent flyer miles, and checked bags. "United officials were convinced that offering bare fares would enable the airline to offer customers a competitive fare while at the same time creating a revenue premium for United," reports Travel Weekly (free registration required). The fares would be available in about a year, says Greg Taylor, United's senior vice president of planning.
In addition to "bare fares," United is considering a few other options to generate more revenue while, of course, "providing a better experience for our customers," according to Taylor. These include itinerary changes for $25 or $50, one-day elite status (with priority check-in, security lines, and boarding), and one-day passes for Red Carpet lounges.
If United's idea takes off, you can bet other airlines will institute similar policies. But it remains to be seen whether a-la-carte pricing will be good or bad for travelers.