Why I’ve Been Flying Delta Basic Economy Lately

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We’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with airlines making all sorts of changes when it comes to onboard services. With the recent changes, as a Delta Platinum Medallion, I’ve been flying Delta basic economy lately and plan to do so through the of end of March.

Granted, most of my flights are around 2-3 hours, so I’m not sure I’d feel the same way on a 5+ hour transcontinental flight, but on flight less then 3 hours, I’ve been pleasantly content in basic economy.

Here’s Why I’ve Been Flying Delta Basic Economy Lately:

I) Delta is Blocking Middle Seats through March 31, 2021: Delta is currently the only remaining US airline to be blocking middle seats in economy on all flights through the end of March. As a Basic Economy flyer, you can’t select your seat at booking, but will be assigned a seat either at check-in or at the gate. With middle seats blocked, you’re guaranteed to get an aisle or exit row. With flights still not full, chances are you may find other seats open once onboard, so I’ve had good success snagging the exit row even.

II) Less First Class Seats for Medallion Upgrades: Following Delta’s blocking middle seats, the airline is also blocking seats in first class on domestic flights. Additionally, depending on the aircraft, additional seats are being blocked for flight attendants as well. As an example on a A320 with 16 seats, Delta is currently blocking 9 seats in the cabin, meaning there are only 7 seats left for sale. Chances are most will be sold, so when it comes to an upgrade, it’s highly unlikely you’d receive that complimentary First Class upgrade even if you purchased a Main Cabin fare.

III) Limited Food and Beverage Catering Onboard: This applies to both First Class and even Comfort +. Delta has drastically reduced its catering offering due to the pandemic, and as a result you’ll only find beer and wine in these cabins. With Delta removing liquor, don’t expect a Woodford on the rocks onboard, and when it comes to food offerings you’re lucky to receive a non-perishable snack box.

Bottom Line

I’ve been flying Delta Basic Economy the past several months, and plan to do so until the end of March. Should Delta continue to block middle seats past this date, and not increase the catering onboard flights, I will likely continue this strategy through summer.

I’ve talked with a few Delta Medallions, who have like myself have similar feelings and as a result are also flying Basin Economy and have no real complaints. I feel that I’ve been saving on average $60 per round trip by choosing Basic Economy instead of a Main Cabin fare, but given the reasons above, it’s hard to justify to pay for the Main Cabin.

Again, I’m not necessarily suggesting Delta make changes to the onboard service due to the pandemic, I’m just sharing how my Delta strategy has changed as a result.

See our recent posts: Why Delta Shouldn’t Lower 2021 Medallion Qualifications and How Delta Should Enrich SkyMiles Medallion Program.

What are your thoughts on flying Delta Basic Economy during the pandemic? Feel free to share if you have a similar opinion in the comments below.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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  1. I would love to see liquor return to First Class in April as a start. Flight attendants could prepare the drinks the galley, so it doesn’t seem that there would be any additional contact time with passengers compared to now.

  2. I’ve started traveling again and even with the discounted fares, it doesn’t make sense to buying first class with no food or drinks onboard, plus with middle seats blocked in coach it’s not for shorter flights.

  3. I heard a rumor that full catering will be resuming in First Class on April 1st, the same date that Delta will stop blocking middle seats. Actually been flying American the past few months, and until catering comes back I will continue, plus AA has had some great fares compared to DL.

  4. I have been doing the same as you have recently as a DM. Delta BE right now is what the Europeans think of business class. I travel ATL-DAL a few times per month as my most common trip. BE is often less than $50 and Main is a $40 premium. I am often able to get an exit row and several times have received Comfort+ from the GA.

    First is difficult as a DM since the are less than half the seats available with FA blocking. Many companies that are still allowing travel book F as a safety measure. The best opportunities for upgrades right now are flights with Delta One seats on domestic routes as DL will fill the cabin.

  5. Every DL FA I’ve talked to wants to be able to serve more onboard. I think they should adopt the United model where they serve everything but don’t open it. So they could offer 2 minis of woodford with a cup of ice or a can of sparkling water and vodka. It’s kind of absurd that you can get a split of wine in E+ but not a can of coke!

  6. Why are you flying at all? There’s a pandemic going on in case you didn’t know. Unnecessary travel puts people’s lives at risk and hospitals are overloaded. Can’t you just stay home until you can get vaccinated like a responsible person?

  7. I was upgraded nearly every flight (8 of them) over the holidays and I’m a lowly Silver. They are blocking 9 seats if all 7 people are traveling solo in first class cabins with 16 seats (many flights have more.) The seat becomes unblocked if two people are traveling together and get upgraded. They can fill first class to 75% per FA. They also were diligently pulling people out of coach to first class if their upgrade cleared and they had already boarded.

  8. @Michael, if you’re that paranoid over something with a 99%+ survival rate for all but the obese and over 80 crowd, STAY HOME.

    I’d to know is how to actually get hold of Delta for a question. How many hours am I supposed to wait on hold? Any chance you have an email for them? Who would’ve thought there’d be a time that Southwest had the best customer service?

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