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
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