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Delta Expands Basic Economy SkyMiles Award Tickets to Hawaii and Major Hubs

March 07, 2019
5 min read
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Delta Expands Basic Economy SkyMiles Award Tickets to Hawaii and Major Hubs
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It's a good news, bad news situation. Delta has quietly expanded what was already a quiet launch of Basic Economy award tickets to encompass even more cities, including its hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis–St. Paul (MSP), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Seattle (SEA).

That's the bad news: There appears to be no stopping the subtle creep of BE fares, even on the award side. The good news is that it does appear some fares are lower than we've ever seen, such as the ability to fly from Detroit (DTW) to Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW) on Delta's brand new A220 for 9,500 SkyMiles each way.

You can now book a Basic Economy SkyMiles award ticket aboard Delta's newest jet, but we wouldn't recommend it

Delta initially rolled out BE award fares to a pair of test markets — Pittsburgh (PIT) and Charleston (CHS) — and clearly the trial was successful. With its major hubs now selling Basic Economy award seats, it's only a matter of time before every airport, both domestic and international, is included. As alluring as it may be to spend a few less miles for a seat, we'd urge extreme caution.

BE award fares have come to the Delta mothership in Atlanta

Delta's Basic Economy fares aren't the most restrictive in the industry, but they're still a huge pain. You won't get a free checked bag, you can't select your seat ahead of time, you'll board last and you'll get zilch in return should you need to cancel your flight.

To Delta's credit, 5,000 SkyMiles from SEA to SFO is a bargain

Mercifully, you can bring a carry-on aboard and you still earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).

No seat selection en route to Hawaii? No thanks.

In what can only be viewed as a move completely devoid of aloha, Basic Economy award seats are now being sold to Hawaii.

Those BE rates are about what Delta used to charge for Main Cabin

Basic economy tickets, classified as E fares, have historically been non-changeable and non-cancelable after 24 hours. No refund, no partial value toward future travel. Nothing. Per verbiage on the airline’s website and as indicated during the booking process, Platinum and Diamond Medallions will not be excepted from this policy. To get the fee-free cancellation perk they’re used to, they will need to pony up for pricier Main Cabin (or above) seats.

If you snag a Basic Economy fare, be prepared to sit in the rear of the aircraft (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

To combat the drawbacks of Basic Economy, we recommend holding a credit card that offers free checked luggage, priority boarding and even Delta SkyClub lounge access.

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If you’re looking for a card that provides these benefits, consider getting one of the following cards:

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express ($0 annual fee for the first year, then $95) (See Rates & Fees)
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express ($195 annual fee; $250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (See Rates & Fees)
  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express ($450 annual fee; $550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020 (See Rates & Fees)
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express ($0 annual fee for the first year, then $95) (See Rates & Fees)
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express ($195 annual fee; $250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (See Rates & Fees)
  • Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card ($450 annual fee; $550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (See Rates & Fees)

H/T: Thrifty Traveler

For rates and fees of the Gold Delta Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Gold Delta Business Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta Business Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Business card, click here.

Featured image by Delta jets on the move in Minneapolis (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees