Travel News

Delta Penalizes Customers Who Buy Basic Economy Tickets – Again

Written by Charlie

Delta is making another move against customers who buy Basic Economy tickets – they are eliminating mileage earning for them. This just takes away even more from their customers as they attempt to upsell even harder.

The idea of basic economy was put out by airlines as a way to unbundle airfare to make an option that was cheaper for flyers who did not check luggage or care where they sat on planes. However, the ticket costs have not necessarily been a whole lot cheaper but the airlines keep treating these basic economy tickets as a way to shave more and more off what a customer gets.

Delta Cuts Mileage Earning for Basic Economy Tickets

Basic Economy Tickets Strip Away More

A Basic Economy ticket with American, Delta, and United will get you a ticket that has the most restrictions tied to it that include things like no checked baggage, no overhead carryon, no seat selection, board last, etc. I mean, it’s almost like they want you to feel bad for being a frugal shopper and buying the cheapest available ticket – “done boarding zone #7, now we will board zone #65, the cheapskates.”

That “Upsell” Option May Be Good But Can Get Expensive

While the airlines do a good enough job warning you throughout the buying process what you are missing out on and telling you for how much you can buy up to regular economy, sometimes that is not enough for customers. This is the classic upsell move that many industries have adopted – and they do it because it works. Get a customer paying $100 for a ticket and then tell them they can board earlier, have overhead bin space, have more flexibility with changing/cancelling for “just” $39 more – and many people will do that.

However, if you are traveling with family, that “just” $39 more per direction, per person, adds up to a significant cost.

Now, Delta Will Not Give Miles to Basic Economy Tickets

Now, Delta will no longer give any miles on Basic Economy tickets

Well, Delta was not done with the death by a thousand cuts as now they will no longer award elite qualifying miles or award miles on Basic Economy tickets. That’s right, if you are a Delta frequent flyer and you have been ok in flying Basic Economy because it was cheap and you got some extras with your status, you will now lose out on any mileage earning with Delta if you keep buying Basic Economy.

Delta says that they had wanted to allow customers to have a price-conscious option with Basic Economy but instead, they have raced to make that become more like an ultra-low-cost carrier than anything else. The sad thing? Where Delta (or any US carrier) goes, the others tend to follow.

Somehow, Southwest Still Offers More!

Except for Southwest. While they will soon be announcing yet another fare class that will be more expensive than their top cost fare, even their cheapest fare class, “Wanna Get Away” still gives you flexibility to change/cancel, check 2 bags, and have the opportunity to check-in early enough to get the seat of your choice when you board.

Delta is hoping this latest move pushes more of their customers to opt for the main economy option. It would serve them right if those customers opted to go to a competitor instead.

Edit: I saw this all over today and wasn’t sure where it originally came from but I believe it was the Thrifty Traveler so here is the link to their article on this as well

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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.


  • This is right in line with Deltas work to destroy its loyalty program. After 10 years of Diamond (mostly for the GUCs) ive become a free agent and kinda loving it…

    • Good for you! They used to have a really great program and I certainly enjoyed Diamond status when I had it. But it is a completely different program now than even a few years ago.

  • Recently traveled across country on Delta. Paid extra for Main Cabin so that I could choose easy access seats. A few days before our flight, Dekta changed our reserved seats from aisle to middle and window. I went round and round asking for a refund of the cost difference between Basic Economy and Main Cabin. I was told that paying the extra and “reserving” the seat was no guarantee, it was merely a request.
    Delta, you are not my preferred airline anymore and it looks like you have alienated a lot of previously loyal customers as well.