Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Basic Economy Tickets No Longer Eligible For Earning SkyMiles or Medallion Elite Status With Delta Air Lines

This policy becomes effective as of Saturday, January 1, 2022 — or today.

Tickets which are purchased at the Basic Economy fare on or after today, Thursday, December 9, 2021 for flights which depart on or after Saturday, January 1, 2022 will no longer be eligible to earn miles in the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program — nor will they be eligible for earning Medallion Qualification Miles, Medallion Qualification Segments, or Medallion Qualification Dollars towards towards earning Medallion elite status.

Basic Economy Tickets No Longer Eligible For Earning SkyMiles or Medallion Elite Status With Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Not all of the news is bad for those customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets, as more flexibility will be offered via a new policy which is being introduced by Delta Air Lines: if you redeem your SkyMiles for a Basic Economy ticket for flights which depart on or after Saturday, January 1, 2022, you will be able to cancel your ticket and receive a portion of your SkyMiles back — but a cancellation charge will be deducted from the value of your ticket.

As for revenue Basic Economy tickets which are purchased on or after today, Thursday, December 9, 2021 for flights which depart on or after Saturday, January 1, 2022: “if you cancel you may be eligible for a partial credit in the form of an eCredit. A cancellation charge will be deducted from the value of your ticket.” However, an eCredit will not be issued if the cancellation charge exceeds the value of the ticket, according to the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines pertaining to changing or canceling a ticket.

The charges for changing a Basic Economy ticket will reportedly be as follows:

  • $99.00 for all flight routes which are entirely within North America
  • €150.00 for travel which originates in Europe, which is approximately $170.00 at the time this article was written
  • $199.00 for all other flight routes

Final Boarding Call

Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

How should you react to this announcement? According to Delta Air Lines:

It’s recommended to purchase a Main Cabin ticket or higher for customers who value greater flexibility, advanced seat selection, overhead bin space, no change fees, and the continued ability to earn miles in the SkyMiles Program and earn towards Medallion Status.

Frankly, I find this new policy rather petty of Delta Air Lines and unnecessary. When the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program changed to base rewards on the airfares paid by customers of Delta Air Lines rather than the miles — more accurately, “butt-in-seat” miles — being traveled, that already significantly impacted SkyMiles members starting in 2015 in a negative manner because Basic Economy fares are usually the least expensive fares which are sold by Delta Air Lines…

…and although this new policy will supposedly not affect many frequent fliers, some will be affected. My first flight during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic was with a Basic Economy ticket purchased from Delta Air Lines round trip between Atlanta and Denver. I earned a whopping 532 SkyMiles on that trip — including bonus SkyMiles which were conferred upon my membership account due to my Medallion elite status.

This policy gives even less of an incentive for infrequent customers to have any semblance of loyalty to Delta Air Lines — and gives them more of a reason to simply shop for flights based on price only.

Have too many members of the SkyMiles program benefited substantially from purchasing Basic Economy fares to cause this change in policy? Will this change in policy be an incentive for those customers who are members of the SkyMiles program to purchase more expensive economy class fares instead of Basic Economy fares? Perhaps Delta Air Lines wants to reduce its balance sheet pertaining to people who earn a minuscule amount of SkyMiles but never redeem them, as SkyMiles currently never expire?

As for the increased flexibility, that means little when airfares are already low priced — but they will come in handy when Basic Economy airfares are exorbitantly expensive, which can especially be the case on international flights.

Worst of all, this is yet another change in policy which was announced with no advance notice or warning, which is a poor practice when dealing with customers, in my opinion…

…so how long will we wait until other airlines adopt this policy with their least expensive fares?

Photographs ©2018 and ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Extremely petty… as inexpensive as those seats often are, Delta could not be awarding many miles for them. Refusing even those miles is ridiculous.

  2. Oh, wow that’s bad news. Odd question if you book a class of ticket such as Basic Economy and your upgraded to a higher class is your ticket still considered and treated as the class you originally booked or what you have been upgraded to?

    Although I think basic economy is not eligible for any upgrades but example if you booked an Economy class and received a 1st class upgrade (happened to me before), or use one of your Delta upgrades certificates do you get ALL of the benefits, perks and point earning of a 1st class ticket or just a better seat and all other perks of the economy ticket at booking?

    1. Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for any upgrades.
      Complimentary medallion upgrades or certificate upgrades just get you a better seat. You do not earn any additional miles, MQMs, or MQDs. Those are awarded based on fare purchased, not fare flown.

      I’m a Diamond Medallion and never book Basic Economy and I still think this is silly. How many miles can a basic economy flyer really be earning already. Basic Economy flyers are most likely not even registered in the Skymiles program. They are occasional flyers who buy whatever ticket is cheapest on whatever airline.
      I suppose that means taking away this benefit will have no impact on how many seats they sell. Is a flyer really going to buy-up to Main Cabin just to earn a few Skymiles? Not likely. Are they going to book another airline now that they won’t earn the handful of Skymiles from the Basic Economy ticket? Also not likely.
      I guess this just reduces the number of Skymiles in circulation which is good for the balance sheet. It also does seem petty.

  3. Skypesos should now be called Skylira. Petty, sad and foolish. This will make even more people free agents. There is something psychologically happening when the consumer gets something for free. Even if it has minuscule value like skymiles. Beancounters vs Marketing team 14:1 at Delta.

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