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Delta Is Chasing the Wrong Competition With Their Latest Fees

Delta credit card
Written by Charlie

Delta has added new fees and it reveals which competition they are chasing. However, it is the wrong competition and wrong move for travelers.

The numbers are in and airlines again made a killing in baggage fees in the third quarter. One of the chief earners in that category is Delta Airlines. I certainly do not fault a company for making a profit but their latest round of fees has me wondering what their whole approach is in chasing the competition.

Delta Is Chasing the Wrong Competition with Their Latest Fees

delta targeting

Link: Delta Charging for Checked Bags to Europe

Last week, it was found out that Delta is starting to charge baggage fees on even the first checked bag for flights between the US and Europe when the traveler books the cheap Basic Economy fare. This goes into affect for tickets purchased from December 6, 2017 and will go into affect for travel after April 10, 2018.

The fees are (for tickets purchased in Basic Economy between the US and Europe/North Africa):

  • 60 USD/75 CAD / 50 Euro for first checked bag
  • 100 USD / 120 CAD / 85 Euro for second checked bag (same as it is for Main Cabin now)

This is the latest move by Delta to capitalize on the hunt by travelers for the cheapest fares and to make money on them for basic things like checked bags that always use to be free (for the first checked bag) for flights to Europe.

Who Delta Is Chasing

Obviously, they are chasing carriers like Norwegian, WOW, and others that are offering low fares to travelers with options to add things like bags and seat selection on for a fee. If someone wants to travel for cheap and travel light, those discount carriers can help them get to Europe at prices that would rival transcontinental prices.

The Same Old Baggage Policy Is No More

But that is not Delta! People are familiar with the ability to check a bag for free and not having to pay $60 each way for that “privilege” of doing soI guess I can kind of understand those bag fees for domestic flights as it is easy enough to travel with just a carryon.

But it is rare for many people to travel to Europe with just a carryon. I travel internationally with just a carryon all the time but I am in the minority on that one.

Cheap or More Expensive Ticket?

delta targeting

Delta’s new baggage fee pushes customers to more expensive tickets

Now, people that may have been used to flying on Delta to European markets will find themselves with a choice – pay more for the ticket or pay for that bag. On a random search for JFK to Milan next May, the difference is $100 on a $1,000 ticket. If you check a bag, Delta is basically pushing you to pay for the more expensive ticket since one checked bag roundtrip would cost you $120.

Who Should Delta Be Competing Against?

Review: Emirates Economy Class – Business Class Without the Seat

It is amazing how much Delta and the other US carriers have complained about the big Middle Easter airlines like Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar about government subsidies and how it is not “fair” for them to be able to compete on certain markets (like Emirates new Newark – Athens route).

Yet, rather than try to compete with these airlines that present very good value for economy passengers, they choose to chase the bottom of the barrel when it comes to customer experience in airlines.

It is not because Delta cannot afford to compete with Emirates – they can. They just choose to complain about them and compete with an airline like Norwegian instead. To me, that is really beneath a legacy US airline.

Comparing Value to Emirates

Let’s compare on a route that both Delta and Emirates fly on. Delta charges $976 for Basic Economy and then $60 for a checked bag each way or $1,076 for a regular economy ticket with a free checked bag.

On that same route (JFK – Milan), Emirates charges $1,017 – somewhere in the middle of Delta’s two economy fares. But, Emirates gives free checked bags and a quality onboard product. The meals are good, the entertainment is top-notch, and the service onboard is excellent as well.

Plus, don’t forget that Emirates runs sales fairly often for around $400 to both Emirates and Athens! It should be interesting to see if Delta matches those in the future with their Basic Economy price or Main Cabin price.

delta targeting

We look at Delta and the meals are not that good, the entertainment is not nearly as expansive as Emirates and service by the flight crew can really be hit-or-miss with various attendants. Plus, Delta now is playing games with the free checked bag that everyone is so used to getting (while Emirates gives you 2!).

delta targeting

The price from Emirates for the same route and dates – with 2 bags!


Obviously, Delta is making decisions that they believe will bring them the most amount of money. But, I think their choice to chase carriers like Norwegian is a really bad one for a long-term strategy. Rather than start the process of nickel-and-diming customers that have long been familiar with the regular baggage standard on Delta, they should target passengers that like what airlines like Emirates offers.

Airlines like Norwegian and WOW are about cheapness and convenience. Airlines like Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar win awards. Which one should Delta be targeting for competition?

Featured image courtesy of Chris Parypa Photography | Shutterstock

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Your econ 101 is failing you. Delta is not adding baggage charges, they are unbundling that service from the base fare. Hitherto, you, travelling with just a toothbrush, paid for my heavy bag. Now, I pay for it.

    • Not really. When I compared prices now with the prices from before, the basic economy tickets are not cheaper, at least on the routes that I monitor.

        • It was paid for like it always has been until Delta found out that people are willing to pay the tickets in an unbundled fashion like the LCCs.
          Again, I understand it for domestic but doing it on international trips for an airline like Delta (which constantly complains about airlines like Emirates but does not do anything to challenge them) is a strange move.

  • Gr8 argument; for the New York market.

    Delta has a US route system feed and the LCCs are invading it. The middies aren’t.

  • “…except Delta now won’t let those that buy the cheapest tickets – basic economy – take a roll-aboard on anymore so there goes that!).”
    I thought Delta(as opposed to United and AA) still allowed a carry-on?
    And I assume if one holds a Delta Amex then the fee is waived anyway?

  • The ME3 dont have many US-Europe non-stops. If you want to use MXP how much would the fare be to fly say on EY JFK-MXP , of cause its not a non-stop and I highly doubt anyone would purchase such a fare if all they would be doing is connecting @ EYs hub. The ME# really come into play when heading to Asia,Africa or OZ. Is Delta pulling the bag fees for its Asian flights as well.

    The war to Europe is between the US3 and the LCCs for now, all DL is doing is offering a person the fares they can get elsewhere. If the US3 dont do anything then most folks will be sold on the fare alone and not add in the extras they need (eg checked bags) and wont purchase their tkt from DL.

    If the US3 dont reply as DL is then they might as well shut down, Between The ME3 to Asia and the LCCs to Europe all they can be then will be Southwests/JetBlues

    I think the main problem is WE over here have gotten use to certain perks when flying which The Europeans never had. For years a carry-on was weight restricted when flying in Europe and even BA at 1 time had scales set up by the entrance to where you went to go Airside, yea we have those nutty sizers but what US carrier has ever weighed ones carry-on. I was stopped numerous times , heck my bag empty is almost the max allowed. Lets not get started on checked bags, if in Y hopefully you werent flying for more then a few days, not 2 bags @ 50 or 70lbs

    what was- was, its a new day and unfortunately we have to get use to it, just be happy you arent 1st starting up in this game now, its those folks I pity who are gonna get the raw end, not so much those who have LT Status

    Dont know if you know but UA has changed things to where once you check-in (even OLCI) you can no longer switch which carrier you want to credit your flights to. Till recently you picked your seats, did OLCI, dropped your free checked bags off then switched to which carrier you want to earn with. Then after it posts usually 72 hrs you called UA switched back to your UA# so you could check your bags for free on the return. Thats no longer possible, OK it is but there are a # of additional steps that Im not gonna disclose and a couple have recently been shut off as well. My pt is its a new day and new rules and what was -was and isnt any longer.

    So lets not live in the past and no point in crying over spilled milk

    • I am actually a big advocate of moving on and exceptions the changes that we face in this game! But it still is a surprise to me to see Delta chasing LCCs when I think they are much better than that. Their customers have accepted many cuts on the soft side of things (mileage earning, difficulty in elite qualifications, etc) but when they go after what has been a norm and still complain how other airlines are able to improve where they don’t even try, it is just sad.

      • Complain is something The US3 do very well when it benefits them. But as I said DL hasnt touched (yet) their Asian flights , thats where they are up against the ME3 and not the 1 offs non-stops to Europe. In regards to Europe its the LCCs that will eat The US3 alive at least kettle wise, so BE is the only way to try and keep some of the kettles.

        If they didnt go the BE route then I cant help but think they would have to drop Destination after destination as their flights wouldnt be profitable enough. Also more and more European carriers are starting service up to 2nd tier citys over here, so The US3 will get it from both sides, and OS and LX have started up flights to the likes of LAX and SFO, while till now were just serving the EC

        Personally Im happy that I enjoyed playing the game the past few decades and have LT on UA and AA so that Im not hit left & right with fees and its still worth my while to fly them, but as they kill the cabins with the smaller seats, lavs and seat pitch, my days with them are numbered