Delta devalued SkyMiles awards twice during the pandemic and now calls it a sale when they offer 350,000 and even 400,000 mile-plus business class roundtrips to Europe. They’ve also gutted international upgrades with top elites getting confirmed from coach to premium economy only and no longer business class.
The other shoe has dropped at the reverse end of the spectrum, mileage-earning on the cheapest fares. For new tickets purchased (as of December 9, 2021) and travel starting January 1, 2022, Delta’s basic economy fares will no longer earn miles or elite status credit. Period. In some sense this is the culmination of a 20 year quest by Delta to deny benefits to the cheapest fares, and frequent flyers successfully pushed back on Delta changes two decades ago.
Delta was the first airline to introduce basic economy, and they even force members redeeming their lowest-priced awards into basic economy restrictions much of the time – no advance seat assignments or upgrades.
American Airlines, after introducing upgrades and other elite benefits to basic economy fares, even starting counting them towards elite status again. So Delta is much worse than American here.
Neither American nor Delta goes the United/JetBlue route, however, of refusing to le customers on basic economy fares bring on a carry on bag (JetBlue doesn’t even let cobrand cardmembers bring one on when booking basic economy).
Delta will let basic economy passengers pay them more money for ticket changes, rather than make tickets entirely non-changeable and non-refundable:
- Domestic and close-in international (Canada, Caribbean, Mexico and Central America): $99
- U.S. to other markets: $199
Yes Delta employees are friendlier, and historically the airline has delivered better operational performance. But there are many dimensions along which they offer an inferior product and value proposition.