Delta Airlines

Delta Basic Economy: What You Need to Know

Have you looked at booking a Delta Basic Economy vs a Main Cabin ticket to save money on your flight purchase?

Delta Airlines offers Basic Economy on many routes and the price savings could tempt you to book the flight. But, there are some important things you need to know about selecting one of these cheap Delta fares.

In this guide, we take a look at Basic Economy on Delta and how utilizing Delta co-branded credit cards can reduce the restrictions that come with these bargain fares.

What is Delta Basic Economy?

Delta Airlines

Just like American Airlines and United Airlines, Delta Airlines offers its own version of an unbundled service. This refers to fares that are à la carte from everything from seat selection to checked baggage.

Delta offers Basic Economy fares on both domestic and international fares. This includes both paid and award tickets. Although, not all award flights allow Basic Economy as an option.

Basic Economy Restrictions on Delta

As with other airlines’ Basic Economy fares, there will be restrictions when flying this basic fare on Delta. Let’s start with Delta Basic Economy baggage restrictions.

Unlike United, you’re allowed a full-size carry-on and a personal item at no cost. The size requirement for Delta Basic Economy carry-on luggage is 22” x 14” x 9” and can’t be more than 45 linear inches in combined length, width, and height. 

As for your personal item, you’re allowed 1: 

  • Purse,
  • Briefcase,
  • Camera Bag,
  • Diaper Bag,
  • Laptop computer, or
  • An item of similar/smaller size

Items that don’t count as personal items include:

  • A jacket or umbrella,
  • Duty-free merchandise,
  • Strollers,
  • Child-restraint seats, or
  • Medical assistive devices

Delta also allows a free checked bag for Basic Economy depending on the route you’re flying from the U.S.

These include flights to:

  • Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen
  • Brazil (excluding select G3-operated flights)
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Asia
  • Southern and West Africa 
  • India

This is quite generous considering the Basic Economy checked baggage restrictions on other airlines. 

Other Basic Economy restrictions include:

  • Receiving seat assignment at check-in or, in some cases, at the gate,
  • Ticket changes and upgrades are not allowed after the 24-hour cancellation period,
  • No refunds or same-day changes allowed, and
  • Not being eligible to combine with other Delta fares.

Families Traveling in Basic Economy

Family with kids at airport

Your Delta Basic Economy seat assignment does NOT guarantee you’ll be seated together. This is especially important for families traveling with young children. While there’s a chance you could sit together, it’s also just as likely that you won’t be sitting together.

So, if you’re traveling with young children or don’t want to be separated from your family, you might want to avoid Delta’s basic economy fares. 

Delta Credit Card Benefits

Having a Delta co-branded credit helps to ease some of the Basic Economy restrictions.

Even when you book a Basic Economy ticket, Delta cardholders receive priority boarding and a free checked bag. The free checked bag benefit is eligible for you and up to 8 other people (maximum of 9 waivers per reservation).

Delta Skymiles credit cards with this benefit include:

Even better, the checked bag benefit is linked to your frequent flyer number, not your Delta credit card. So, you can pay with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and receive better travel protections.

When it comes to priority boarding, you’ll receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding. Typical basic economy boarding is after Main Cabin 3 boarding. 

Delta Airlines Basic Economy Check-In

You’re eligible to check in 24 hours before departure, either through the mobile app or online. If you do use the Delta Airlines mobile app, it can automatically check you in at the appropriate time.

With Delta Basic Economy, seat selection is not included. Rather you’re assigned a seat.

In some cases, your seat may not be assigned at check-in.

Instead, you’ll see “Seat Assigned at Gate” on your boarding pass. This is likely because no non-preferred seats remain and the agents are moving others into preferred seats before assigning your seat.

Booking Basic Economy Fares with Chase Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards are extremely popular and they offer great flexibility, including when you book through the Chase Travel portal.

The great news is you can book a Basic Economy ticket on Delta with your Ultimate Rewards points, through the Chase Travel portal.

In this example, flying from Los Angeles to Miami (LAX to MIA), a basic economy fare with 1 stop would cost $341.40.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re able to book this flight for only 22,760 Ultimate Rewards Points.

Plus, if you have a Delta Skymiles credit card, you’ll still receive your free checked bag and priority boarding. You’ll just need to enter your Delta Skymiles number when booking your flight.

Earning Delta Miles on Basic Economy Flights

Bad news! When you book a Basic Economy fare on Delta, you will not earn redeemable miles.

It’s still possible to earn 50% of the miles flown when flying Virgin Atlantic on a Basic Economy fare. The same is true for Flying Blue – Air France/KLM but at 20%.

Earning Status Flying Delta Basic Economy

Delta isn’t the friendliest in this department either. Basic Economy with Delta will not earn qualifying Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM), Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS), or Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MDQ).

Basic Economy fares are fare class E bucket. As such, they’ll earn 100% of the miles flown for your MQM and full MQS. You’ll also receive full credit for MQD as well. 

Redeeming Delta Miles for Basic Economy

You can redeem Skymiles for Basic Economy. In fact, Delta was the first of the US3 (United, American Airlines, and Delta), to offer Basic Economy award redemptions. 

Remember, Delta Airlines is dynamic in its pricing, which means the award prices are tied to the ticket price. 

Final Thoughts:

When you look at the Basic Economy fares offered by Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines, Delta is one of the friendlier Basic Economy options.

But, even while it might be a bit better, there are still restrictions to consider, especially if you’re a family traveling with children. 

Using a Delta Skymiles credit card can be a great way to help minimize the pain of Basic Economy and give you more of a Main Cabin experience. 

Lastly, understanding Delta’s Basic Economy rules will reduce any issues and ensure you have a smooth experience flying on one of these cheap fares.

Have you flown Delta Basic Economy? How was your experience?

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