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

March 7 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.

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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.

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

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    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.

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Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
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