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Delta WINS Basic BIG 3 fare class fight and now American only STINKS 50% less than United!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

from aa newsroom website
We stink only 50% as bad as United! Yeah?

Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of Delta’s E BASIC fare class and have stated that over and over here on the blog. I have, as of this date, never ever purchased one and do not plan to if I can avoid it. But that is not to say I would not if the flight is short enough and the reason I would even consider buying one is simple – Delta pays FULL ELITE POINTS on basic fares!

United, who for some reason always makes the worst loyalty choices they could ever make, is utterly punishing those elites who happen to get stuck with or buy a BASIC fare. Now American is out with theirs and take a look:

AAdvantage – Full AAdvantage miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars may be earned when purchasing these fares; however, only  one-half  Elite Qualifying Mile will be earned per mile flown, and  one-half  Elite Qualifying Segment per segment flown. – Bold red mine.

So AA is stinking 50% less than UA but is 50% worse that Delta that yields 100% elite points. Err, well done for not being as horrid as UA but only be HALF as good as Delta? OK then!

Now Delta has been brilliant when it comes to making elites happy and I give them all the credit due. They understand that elites have VERY different needs that normal flyers. This is why, when you think about it, they have gotten away with the decimating of SkyMiles that elites really just don’t care about (I sure don’t). The “masses” will dump SkyMiles on silly things but they don’t care about elite points or even understand them. That is why Delta has not changed the elite game for the negative. They even allow MQD exempt via AMEX spent all the way up to Diamond unlike United that blocks you from 1K exemption via Chase spend.

AA has gone hybrid on the credit card spend with the ability to knock half of the MQD (EQM) spend out with your AAdvantage card. I can see the logic in this but at the same time it is clearly not as good as the Delta model.

Many around the web are suggesting that Delta will follow AA & UA down the gutter with these same changes. I ask you – why? I just don’t see it happening. Delta understands the difference between an elite and a normal flyer. They understand the current setup is making them a fortune in revenue and they are more profitable under the current system than the other airlines. Why in the world would they break this when they are trying to make MORE money not less. Delta innovates and sets standards, they don’t follow the others.

Personally I think those at Virginia Avenue a.k.a. the Delta motherhip home address in Atlanta are dancing in the streets with the stupidity of both AA and UA. I think you will see more and more elite (who happen to spend the most on tickets) status match to Delta to this year and I think they are very wise to do so!

Best “BASIC” fares. Best elite program. Best reliability. Best wifi. Best service. I could go on and on but Delta is just crushing it and even with the nasty BASIC fares, they win big time! – René


Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. The only time I can imagine a Medallion member sitting in an E Ticket seat would be when his/her company purchased it. For the few dollars saved it’s hardly worth the perks one has to give up.

    Back in the day, Disney E tickets were great. Today Delta E tickets not so much.

  2. How long until Delta changes their Basic Economy to match UA or AA?

  3. I actually booked a Delta basic economy ticket recently, however it’s probably the only time I’ll do it. Being able to choose my seat during the purchase process is a big deal to me. But I have the Delta Amex, so I’m not missing out on priority boarding or anything. I had $150 in gift cards, only had to pay 6 bucks out of pocket with basic economy, and it’s a relatively short flight. So it made sense in this scenario.

    That said, I think it’s crazy how much American and United are restricting those who do choose this option. At least we know Delta is doing it right!

  4. lonelyatthetop Reply

    Breaking News!

    No one from ANY other airline would like switching to Delta. Remember when they made fun of us for our loyalty (not too long ago)?

    There’s no room over here…stay with your own airline and be a voice for change (like I tried these past 2 1/2 years.)

    Nope, we (Delta) are full folks!

    Make your own programs better…

    • @lonelyatthetop – LOL ok let’s let all those at UA and AA stay with their miserable program. I hear you. I agree. Keep Delta Delta flyers 😉

  5. I was a loyal Platinum flyer on the red tail for years, and continued even after Delta started decimating the MSP experience. At that time I shifted to WN and could not be happier. People talk about seat selection As important. As A-List preferred I almost always have bulkhead aisle. The few cases where I don’t are usually due to a last minute change. Were it any of the big three my choice would be the”B” or “E” seat of my choice. With WN even here I board at the end of A so always ALWAYS have an aisle. Oh and no change fees. Thanks, you guys fight it out, the view from the cheap seats is pretty damn nice.

  6. Well, let’s not forget that Delta started this nonsense of basic economy fares; and of the qualifying dollars; now they all do it. UA, DL each have their own pros and cons- for example UA right now (with Polaris) has a better soft product internationally and better food in their lounges, and their miles have better international availability on the Star Alliance network and are easy to use. On the other hand, DL is much better with domestic service, reliability, customer service. If I lived in Atlanta, I would definitely switch to DL. DL is unique for having improved dramatically in the past 6 years (I used to fly them until 2010, and they were the pits); UA for having had an unprecedented decline between 2010 and 2015 or so.
    AA is unique for being worse in just about every respect (horrible customer service, terrible domestic product, fuel surcharges on many awards) except that their miles can be used for Cathay and JAL, which is the only thing I’ll even think of redeeming them for.

    I’d be surprised if anybody changed their flying habits because of these basic economy fares.

  7. AA has done much in the last year to squander its aadvantage (pun) in ff programs over DL. Nevertheless AA still beats DL in certain key areas. For me (and these conclusions are always a function of individual preferences and circumstances), the most compelling reasons for liking AAs program are access to first class lounges and international first class flights. As an AA EXP, access to first class and AA Flagship Lounges and dining even when flying coach is a real plus. Those who strictly fly DL and collect Stymiles (my term) know not what they are missing!

    Granted DL customers can obtain points through credit cards that will allow them to fly first class on other airlines, but you do get some miles from flying. It’s a shame that the miles and status earned on DL will not help its best customers experience the luxury of first class international travel. Also those who fly a lot with AA have the opportunity to receive eight SWUs per year versus only four GUCs on DL.

    I’m anxious to read your review of the Asanda Spa in the JFK T4 Skyclub. DL has upgraded the food and drinks there and the showers are first rate. Still that lounge was not as good as the AA Flagship Lounges which are themselves in the process of being upgraded. ATL E and F lounges also need upgrading badly. They are barely passable as business class lounges and an insult to KE and especially AF first class passengers.

    In general, DL is better than AA in some things like service and reliability. That gap, however, is smaller than urban legend asserts and it is narrowing. IF AA persists in shooting itself in the foot and DL maintains it program as is, I’ll fall back on my DL Diamond status. That is until AS gets a nationwide route network. AS is the airline with the best ff program, service, reliability and profitability.

  8. Unhappy Diamond Medallion Million Miler Reply

    You could not be more wrong when it comes to Elites at Delta. I am a Elite Diamond plus million miler. I have been a Diamond member since 2010 and the Diamond benefits have been on the downhill slide for a long time.
    Delta stated corporate goal is to eliminate all complementary upgrades by 2018. My upgrade percentage used to be close to 100% now it is down to less than 30%. The MQM roll over has created far to many Diamond Medallions,now we have the ridiculous MQD’s, as well as the 75k skymile cap per trip. Over crowded Skyclubs, I feel lucky if I can get exit row aisle. Not to mention the fake economy comfort upgrades where Delta thinks a seat change from a steerage aisle seat to a EC middle is an upgrade.

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