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Benefits at the Bottom – Why I Love Delta Basic Economy Awards

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Delta Basic Economy

Delta Basic Economy

Congratulations for clicking on one of the unsexiest article topics in recent memory.  Or perhaps you tapped by accident.  If the latter, I understand you departing now.  Indeed, I doubt many are excited to fly a bare-bones version of the domestic airlines’ least desirable product.  But for you intentional readers, I’m today describing why Delta basic economy – awards, more specifically – may be more attractive than you think.  Open your mind and consider the following.

Rock-Bottom Rates

Overall, it seems SkyMiles award rates are generally trending SkyHigh.  At first glance, one-way rates often look more like expensive round trip ones – at least for this firmly middle-aged guy.  But don’t forget to include Basic Economy in your award search!

Basic economy rates aren’t always winners, and sometimes they aren’t even available.  But certain options can arrive surprisingly low.  For instance, I’ve easily found non-stop award space between ATL and MCO at 6k miles one-way.  Stacking this with the TakeOff 15 benefit from the various co-branded Amex cards, the price came to 5.1k miles.  I jumped on it.

I don’t pay much attention to cent per point valuations.  If a redemption meets my primary goal (travel or otherwise), it’s a good enough value for me.  But in my experience, I’ve noticed my Delta basic economy award redemptions have easily surpassed 1 cpp.

Delta Basic Economy

Lounge Access

Efforts have been made to curtail access to Delta’s generally-solid SkyClubs.  But as a Schwab Amex Platinum primary cardholder, I can access SkyClubs even with a basic economy ticket.  (Of course, all Platinum versions work for this.)  Our Schwab Platinum cards are long-term keepers for one simple, unrelated reason, so this SkyClub access is all gravy.

Accessing what I consider to be the most superior lounge network from the big three domestic airlines while traveling at budget award rates is a big winner for us.  There have been rumblings of more SkyClub access limitations, so I’ll ride this wave while I can.

An Unexpected Benefit, Sometimes

Delta has recently presented me with a surprise benefit on a couple occasions in basic economy.  Not surprisingly, Delta often waits late to assign seats to basic economy flyers.  Twice in these instances, I’ve received an exit row seat on a basic economy ticket.  Perhaps I’ve just gotten lucky since they didn’t upsell this seat option to other flyers.  Whatever the reason, receiving this perk while on a bargain basement award ticket makes it even sweeter.  Of course, I manage my expectations here, but I enjoy the small win if/when it comes.

Delta Basic Economy

Delta Basic Economy – Conclusion

“Enjoy” is a strong word to use for flying domestic economy, but I vastly prefer the experience with Delta over most any other airline.  Delta knows they have a superior product and prices flights accordingly.  And booking domestic Delta flights via partners can offer superior award rates.  But I’ll keep hunting for the small wins with Delta basic economy awards.  How has your experience been in Delta basic economy?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. Another nice thing is that you get main 1 boarding on a basic economy ticket if you have a Delta CC. Sometimes I’m hesitant to book it though since I believe there is a $99 fee to cancel. So I’ll pay the extra for main cabin just in case I need to cancel.

    • Kerry,
      Nope, I’m not earning miles since I’m redeeming for basic economy awards, but that’s not a big deal to me in these cases.

    • Dan,
      I usually carry on one small item, and I’ve never had issues. You can check out Delta’s baggage policy here and the credit card baggage perk here.


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