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Delta Air Lines seems to be the Edward Scissorhands of the airline industry these days — it just keeps cutting away at everything within reach. This week, Delta hacked away at its already bare-bones Basic Economy fare. If you thought it was doo doo before, wait until you hear these changes.
- Basic Economy flights will no longer earn Delta SkyMiles.
- Passengers flying in Basic Economy will not earn Medallion-qualifying elite credits.
- Flights scheduled after December 31, 2021 in Basic Economy fares will no longer be changeable.
- Cancellations can be made, but they are full of restrictions (see below).
Quick Overview of Delta Basic Economy
Basic Economy is Delta's cheapest fare class and includes exactly what the name implies: the basics. When you book a seat in Delta Basic Economy, you can expect the following:
- No seat assignments until after check-in, and you are not guaranteed seats together when there's more than one person on the reservation.
- Basic Economy passengers are the last to board.
- Basic economy fares are not eligible for paid or complimentary upgrades.
But Delta is adding to this list of restrictions.
New Earning Structure – or Lack Thereof
Beginning December 9, 2021 and applying to flights booked for January 1, 2022 and later, Delta Basic Economy flyers will no longer earn SkyMiles on their flights. Prior to this announcement, Basic Economy earned Delta's standard base rate of 5x SkyMiles per dollar (before elite bonuses).
Additionally, passengers in Basic Economy will no longer earn elite-qualifying miles for Delta Medallion status.
Cancellations and Changes
Aside from the changes in earning structure for Basic Economy, Delta is also “updating” its cancellation and change policies. Prior to Covid, Delta did not allow changes or cancellations for Basic Economy fares. While concessions were made due to the pandemic, those will soon end.
Delta will implement the following policies:
- After December 31, 2021, no changes to Basic Economy tickets will be allowed.
- Cancellations will receive a partial eCredit, according to the itinerary chart below.
- You will need to pay cancellation fees.
For cancellations, depending on where the flight originates, you can expect to pay the following:
- U.S. domestic flights: Subject to a $99 fee
- Flights to the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico: Subject to a $99 fee.
- Originating in the U.S. or Canada to an international destination: Subject to a $199 fee.
- Europe: Cancellation charge is €150 for travel originating in Europe.
- Africa, Middle East, and India: Cancellation charge is $199 for travel originating in one of these areas.
- Mexico: Travel originating here cannot be changed or cancelled.
And for award tickets that are cancelled, you will be charged the following:
- Domestic flights within the U.S. and Canada: 9,900 miles
- International flights: 19,900 miles
Alternatives to Delta Basic Economy
Fortunately, not all other airlines have followed in Delta's footsteps. At least not yet. The following airlines are just a few of those that still allow members to earn miles on Basic Economy fares.
- Alaska Airlines allows Basic Economy (Saver Fare) tickets to earn full miles on distance flown.
- United Airlines still allows customers to earn mileage, although at a reduced rate and reduced credit towards elite status.
- American Airlines Loyalty Points are earned when flying Basic Economy fares.
Co-Branded Cards Can Help
American Express offers several co-branded Delta cards. These cards allow members to use various benefits, even with Basic Economy fares. For example, the following cards come with the first checked bag free. A checked bag would normally cost $30 when flying in Basic Economy.
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Additionally, cardholders receive Main Cabin 1 priority boarding.
Related Content: How to Choose the Right Delta Credit Card
These changes regarding Delta's Basic Economy fares are a huge blow. Likely, most flyers pursuing status weren't flying in Basic Economy. However, passengers flying on Basic Economy tickets likely expected some normalcy with miles earning and respectable change/cancelation fees.
This is just another reminder of how quickly things can change in the industry. Fortunately, as a Delta co-branded cardholder, you can still get a few benefits that are typically excluded from Basic Economy fares. Overall, though…yuck.
What do you think of these changes?
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