Rookie Wednesday: Are there times Delta BASIC E fares are a good choice? Even for Medallions?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

e basic fare class atl to sbn

Let me begin with review of my viewpoint of Delta’s BASIC E fares. I hate them. I think they are shameful (well shameful-ish anyway). When booking with an OTA you may get stuck in this fare and not even know it. My biggest gripe is that these fares do not do what Delta claims, that is, compete with the discount airlines because even when they sell them in similar markets they are most times not as cheap as the competition. Having said that there can be a few select times I would choose them myself.

warning popup box for delta basic e class fares

Now Delta does warn you about all the nastiness of this fare class. They tell you that you will be in a coach seat and have to get the slim pick’ins that are left over at the 24 hour mark at check-in. But this may not be as bad as it sounds under a bunch of conditions. Let’s knock them out one by one.

seat map crj200 delta atl to sbn

Let’s say most of the legs on the BASIC fare are on CRJ200s. Unless you have had the “pleasure” of spending a great deal of time on these evil jets (like me) you may not know that every single seat on a CJR200 is bad.

seat next to toilet on delta crj200 renespoints blog

Yeah, most CRJ200 seats feel like this!

Oh sure the exit row is marginally better and not being in the seat next to the toilet door is nice but all of the seats are just bad. I really don’t care that much where I sit on a CRJ200 when it comes right down to it. If I can save money, and will be flying on these jets, I am all for saving money.

meal service on delta crj200

Another consideration is food. If there is no meal service at all then it may be worth going with a BASIC fare. For these kinds of trips it is unlikely that even an EATS menu / food will be loaded on the jet so you are getting the same snacks in BASIC as you are on the rest of the jet. When it comes to drinks have a HOOU coupon ready or use a credit card that either gives you a discount like the Delta AMEX cards <-LINK do (20% off onboard buys) or one that allows for credits for onboard buys.

updated 3 delta amex cards

Speaking of Delta AMEX cards, if you hold one you are not going to be boarding in ZONE 3 a.k.a. the zone when Delta will be all but guaranteed to force you to check you bag even if you don’t want to due to overhead space filling up before your chance to board. Yep, if you have the Delta AMEX you get ZONE 1 boarding and that means you will most likely get a spot for your bag. Same goes if you are a Delta elite Medallion. Even Silver Medallions can board ZONE 1 on BASIC and other fares.

Are there other times this cheap fare could be worth considering even as a top elite? I have to say, for me personally, anything over 2 hours of flight I am not going to choose this fare class. However, if I were flying with family or others on my reservation who are not elites then maybe even then and especially so after 16MAY16 when I can no longer, even as a Diamond, get Comfort Plus seats for free for me and those on my reservation (domestically). This change from Delta has me considering BASIC E fares and this is something I would never have done before!

Please take away from this post that BASIC fares are not to be taken lightly. While there can be times they are the obvious choice, most times I still feel they are to be avoided unless specific conditions make the choice worthwhile to you. – René




  1. As a Delta flyer without status I always take the E fare when flying on CRJs and usually on 717s. My real concern is always avoiding a middle seat. As long as a plane doesn’t have middle seats (or not many of them on the 717), not having an assigned seat becomes much less of a problem.

  2. @Dan – Yep great point. Plus being “Johnny on the spot” at the 24 hour mark helps as well to jump on what seats are open (and use app to check when folks move around).

  3. I,m at a loss with the comfort seats after 16th may, as three of family are gold, and youngest dropped to silver, but with rollover, back to gold sept of this year,
    (flights etc) anyway we booked two flights, on same reservation, SJU, via Atlanta, to Tampa,in July 16, anyway they will upgrade the SJU to ATL, to econ comfort, but wait list ATL/TPA ? The points is if i,m travelling with three or more on same booking,Its better to split, to get econ comfort, but then even if others get upgraded not much chance sitting together, Delta should give platinum/Diamond members(i am) an extra 2 days before to allow family members to sit together if seats free?

  4. @Craig – I agree that the 16MAY16 is a total mess. It is going to make elite just go nutz when they find out (no, no one is paying attention yet). This will burn Delta big time!

  5. I am a lowly silver with Delta. I was looking for flight, TPA-ATL, roundtrip for June. E fare is $30 cheaper than X fare. When I selected X fare, on checkout page I see “complimentary upgrade to Comfort+ is not permitted, complimentary upgrade to First class is not permitted”. What is this? I don’t follow Delta as much I did before, but am I correct that after May 16 there are NO comp. upgrades from coach (main cabin) to First?

  6. Renee, I am looking at Delta fares from MSP to SYD in Oct. I have noticed that when doing a test booking, that sometimes it gives me the option to upgrade to Comfort Class for $149 for each way for the LAX to SYD portion. That seems a decent price if fares come down a bit. It is now $1400 if you buy today. My question revolves around buying codeshare on Virgin Australia (which is actually a Delta flight) – would it allow me to upgrade to Comfort Class for the same price or only if I book via Delta? The Virgin flight is about $200 less than the economy Delta Flight. I have no frequent flyer standings that would help me, other than I have Delta AMEX Skymiles card. I don’t have enough miles for any upgrades etc. Is there something I am missing? Thanks.

  7. @rene: Thanks. However, I still didn’t get it (Sorry!). I understand, that E (basic economy fares) are not eligible for comp. upgrades, but other fares are. Here what I see when I click on ‘upgrade eligibility’:
    Upgrade Eligibility

    DL2323 – TPA to ATL:
    Not Upgrade Eligible to Delta Comfort+™
    Not Upgrade Eligible to First

    Is it because now that you have to request upgrade manually on checkout page?

  8. @Sergey – Yes. After you ticket, you go in click manage upgrade and choose C+. If you are DM or PM you instant UG to C+ and can pick YOUR seats.

  9. @Barb – if a Virgin Australia flight the Comfort Class is a MUCH MUCH MUCH better product and well worth the UG. If Delta metal it is just a coach seat with a little extra space.

  10. Heck yeah. All but one Delta flight from here is on an old dirty CRJ. All the seats are the same.
    MQM’s are equal regardless.
    A 55 minute flight to ATL(to see my family) sure beats an 8 hour drive.

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