What International Basic Economy Travel Means On Delta
By Shontel Horne
Low-cost carriers like WOW and Norwegian disrupted the airline industry in a major way with their competitive pricing model, offering both international and domestic air travel at rock bottom prices by cutting out the frills and allowing passengers to pay only for what they needed. As the popularity of the highly affordable fare class dubbed basic economy increased, legacy airlines followed suit, offering their own cheap flights that vary in price and restrictions based on the individual airline. Delta, like other major airlines, has seen interest in their basic economy tickets skyrocket over the last few years, but exactly what do travelers get when they buy the wallet-friendly fare?
The reality of basic economy fare categories is that airlines aim to make them as unappealing as possible in hopes that customers will want to upgrade their tickets to the next fare class, which in Delta’s case, are the Main, Comfort+, Premium Select, and Delta One fares. The next time you see a basic economy ticket on Delta for international travel, here’s what you should know before you purchase your ticket.
There are no set fare models for Delta’s basic economy seats. Unlike the low-cost carriers that have low fares on a regular basis, the cost of a basic economy ticket on Delta will vary greatly depending on when you book it, when you’re traveling, and where you’re going. The difference between the basic economy ticket and the next fare class up could be just $90, like this sample fare for travel between Los Angeles and London.
Select the basic economy ticket and don’t be surprised if you’re prompted to shell out a little more cash for the Main cabin and its upgraded amenities. If you know you’ll want to check a bag, it may make more sense to skip basic economy and go right to the Main fare if the price is right.
Delta allows basic economy passengers to bring a personal item and a carry-on for use in the overhead bin, so unlike some low-cost carriers, there’s no fee for using the overhead compartment. For U.S. and Canadian travelers flying to or from Europe or North Africa, it will cost $60 to check the first standard bag and $100 to check a second. Those traveling with Main cabin and Comfort+ tickets can still check their first bag for free. Basic economy fares are not available on many of Delta’s international routes but expect similar baggage rules once the fare class spreads on flights to Asia, South America and beyond.
While some airlines allow you to pay a little extra to choose your seat in advance, Delta only allows basic economy passengers to select seats 24 hours before departure or after check-in. Basic economy passengers also board last and are not permitted to buy priority boarding, and if you’re traveling in a group, don’t count on being seated together.
Don’t worry about being charged for water with your basic economy ticket on Delta! All Delta basic economy passengers receive complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, and on Delta’s long-haul international flights, in-flight meals and select alcoholic beverages are complimentary, too.
CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES
For the most part, basic economy passengers can’t make changes or cancellations, but there is a Risk-Free Cancellation period that allows travelers to change or cancel within 24-hours of purchasing a ticket. For non-refundable tickets, a cancellation fee (which starts at $200) will be deducted from the original cost of your flight, while the remaining value will be provided as an eCredit that can be used towards another ticket.
If you are a Delta Medallion elite or SkyTeam elite traveler or have a Delta credit card, you may have many of the basic economy restrictions waived for you, so be sure to check with the airline to see if you get perks like a free checked bag or priority boarding with your basic economy ticket.
Delta’s basic economy fares may be designed to encourage travelers to upgrade, but when compared to other airlines offering similar flights, you get a lot more for your money.