Delta makes Basic Economy less rewarding; adds a wee bit of flexibility


Delta today announced that Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn rewards (you’ll neither earn redeemable miles nor earn towards elite status).  On the other hand, Basic Economy tickets pre-pandemic were 100% unchangeable and nonrefundable, but now you’ll be able to cancel and get an eCredit for the original price of the ticket (or miles refunded if you booked an award), but only after paying a fee.

New Basic Economy Rules

No rewards: Basic Economy flights purchased today (Dec 9 2021) or later and departing January 1 2022 or later will no longer earn redeemable SkyMiles, Medallion Qualifying Miles, Medallion Qualifying Segments, or Medallion Qualifying Dollars.

Some flexibility (sort of): For Basic Economy flights departing January 1 2022 or later, it will be possible to cancel and get an eCredit for paid tickets or cancel and get miles back for an award ticket.  In either case, according to One Mile at a Time, you’ll be charged as follows:

  • $99 for routes entirely within North America
  • $199 for all other routes

My Take

I’m not sure this will matter much to people who chase Delta elite status since most of us weren’t flying Basic Economy anyway.  For others, I’d guess this is slightly good news since it means that you’ll be able to get at least some credit back when cancelling a Basic Economy flight (unless it cost the same or less than the fee).  You weren’t going to earn many miles on cheap basic economy flights anyway.

My biggest disappointment with this is that they didn’t follow American Airlines’ lead (I don’t often write that!).  When AA stopped offering elite earnings on Basic Economy tickets, they started honoring elite benefits on Basic Economy flights: upgrades, preferred seat selection, and same day confirmed changes.  If Delta were to copy that, I’d be very happy because it would mean that elites could book the cheapest fares and still fly in comfort.

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Too bad. I just bought a BE ticket yesterday for $50 less than Main, as I usually do for flights under two hours. I’m actually still unsure if I would pay $50 for 2500 skymiles and 1000 MQMs. I guess it’s a reasonable value proposition, but not by much.