Guide to Delta Basic Economy

Delta launched Basic Economy in 2012 and has updated it several times since. Delta’s Basic Economy offers Main Cabin service with fewer flexibility options such as advance seat selection or the ability to change or refund the ticket once it’s purchased. Basic Economy fares are available in limited markets, specific flights, and dates.

Rotating infront of the old tower, LAX.

What are Delta’s Basic Economy Restrictions?

  • No advance seat assignments – standard seats may be selected at check-in (if available) up to 24 hours prior to scheduled departure
    • If a standard seat is not available when you check-in, your boarding pass will say “Seat Assigned at Gate”
  • No paid or complimentary upgrades to BusinessElite/Delta One, First Class, Business Class, Economy Comfort/Delta Comfort+ or Preferred Seat
  • No same-day confirmed or standby flight changes
  • No priority boarding for purchase
  • No option to upsell in MyTrips

What does Delta’s Basic Economy Still Include?

  • Includes priority boarding for Delta Medallions and Delta SkyMiles Credit Card holders – up to nine passengers per reservation
  • Includes mileage accrual (Medallion Qualification Miles, Medallion Qualification Dollars and Medallion Qualification Segments)
  • Includes in-seat power, along with in-flight Wi-Fi for purchase, free personal video entertainment with Delta Studio, and free snacks and drinks (where available). Access to In-seat power and seat-back screens are available on select aircraft
  • Includes Risk-Free Cancellation – 24 hours to cancel a ticket for any reason and receive a full refund—including any prepaid fees and Direct Ticketing Charges—with no cancellation fee (some limitations apply)


Recommendations on Using Delta’s Basic Economy

  • Book a roundtrip as two separate one-way tickets
    • Since Basic Economy are not combinable with non-Basic Economy fares, be sure to check your flights one-way at a time, as you may be able to save money by booking a Basic Economy fare in one direction and non-Basic Economy fare in the other direction.
    • However, do not book two separate tickets in one direction by segment (i.e. changing planes) as if your first flight is delayed and you miss your second flight on a different ticket Delta may not honor the second ticket.
  • Check-in exactly 24 hours in advance
    • Delta assigns basic economy seats at time of check-in, so similar to Southwest you need to check-in exactly 24 hours in advance to have the best availability of seats.
    • If standard seats are available after check-in, Delta will allow you to change to a different seat.  In my experience, this feature is only available at, not on Delta’s mobile site or mobile app.
  • You still get full mileage accrual
    • Be sure to input your frequent flyer number
    • Unlike United and American, Delta still offers full Medallion Qualification Miles, Medallion Qualification Dollars and Medallion Qualification Segments on Basic Economy fares
    • On flights of less than 500 miles, Delta still gives a minimum of 500 Medallion Qualification Miles
  • You still can get priority boarding with status or a credit card
    • Basic Economy tickets include priority boarding for Delta Medallions and Delta SkyMiles Credit Card holders – up to nine passengers per reservation
  • There are ways to sit next to your child and/or disabled companion
    • Delta’s Contract of Carriage states:
      • “When a person identifies the nature of his or her disability, Delta will, to the extent possible, accommodate the passenger with a seat assignment that suits the passenger’s needs, including seating the passenger together with any Safety Attendant or Personal Attendant traveling with the passenger.”
      • “Children under the age of 15 will not be accepted for
        transportation unless they are accompanied on the same flight in the same compartment by a parent, legal guardian, or other passenger at least 18 years of age.”
    • Your best bet is to check-in exactly 24 hours in advance as noted above, if there are two standard seats together and you are not assigned them you can move to those seats after check-in.
    • If you aren’t able to get seats assigned together at check-in, Delta does typically block 2-3 Comfort+ seats, 2-3 economy seats near the front, and all seats in the last two rows on every flight for gate assignment. Be sure to either call the airline immediately after check-in or get to the boarding gate early to speak to the gate agent and/or airport staff for assistance and they will try to accommodate you.
    • The airline has a vested interest in seating children next to at least one accompanying adult, no stranger will want to supervise someone else’s rowdy child.

Does the lack of seat assignment make you worry about buying Delta’s Basic Economy fare?



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