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

Mar 7, 2019

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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
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
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.
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
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.

delta-back-rear-economy-main-cabin-seat-seating-airplane-cabin
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.

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

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H/T: Thrifty Traveler

Featured image of Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport by the author.

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.

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