NOT Good!! Delta Introduces Basic Economy to Award Flights
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
You’re well aware of Delta Basic Economy. That conniving fare that’s best known for inconvenience and fees.
It’s the cheapest fare available. But you’ll have to pay for “extras” like choosing your own seat (which is a pain when you’re traveling with friends and family). And there are no ticket changes or upgrades allowed. Plus, you’ll have to board in the last group, so you’ll have the hardest time finding space for your carry-on luggage.
Fortunately, if you have cards like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express or Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, you’ll receive priority boarding. So you can purchase Basic Economy tickets and still board the plane before most other folks.
This fare used to be irrelevant for folks booking award flights. But in the interest of progress, Delta is now “testing” award pricing for Basic Economy tickets on certain routes.
It’s always good to have options when it comes to using our miles & points, right? If that’s the case, what’s so awful about Delta giving its loyalty members the option to redeem miles for Basic Economy?
Delta Testing Out Basic Economy Award Flights
Delta doesn’t have an award chart. So you really can’t know for sure how many miles your desired flight is going to cost until you actually look it up.
For example, if I want to fly from Cincinnati to Miami, the lowest I’ll pay is 7,500 Delta miles one-way. But other days I’ll pay 9,500 miles for the same ticket. Other days, 19,000 miles. Basically, Delta charges whatever it wants each day.
Now, select Delta routes will have an additional option to book Basic Economy with miles. Because there is no award chart, it might be difficult to tell if Delta is raising coach prices or truly giving folks a cheaper option. View From the Wing observes that the difference between Basic Economy and regular coach (with none of the silly extra charges) looks to be 2,500 Delta miles.
We don’t know when or if Delta will decide to roll out this option to all its routes. However, Delta is generally the trailblazer among US airlines. When they implement a new policy, both United Airlines and American Airlines have no problem following along.
Whether or not Delta finds Basic Economy award flights to be a success, these other airlines could well adopt the idea. And we could begin seeing award prices rise for the same benefits we’ve all enjoyed in the past, like the ability to change flights, choose seats, even bring carry-on luggage (though if you have the right credit card with airline miles, that will never be an issue).
What do you make of this experiment by Delta? Are you worried other airlines will jump on the bandwagon?
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)