Rookie Wednesday: Are E BASIC fares, and possibly booking one, driving you away from OTAs? A rookie question post!

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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.

“New” warning +up-sell combo BASIC pop-up!

This post is more of a question for you my dear readers than anything else as I really need your help.

Since Delta, the first of the major airlines, created the new E BASIC fares that once were simply the lowest price ticket available (and all the other majors have followed) I have done all I can to avoid booking one of these “evil” tickets. I call it evil because the restrictions are so crushing that unless it is a one hop flight of about an hour or say just a CRJ200 flight I want to avoid this fare class ticket. But this is not so simple in today’s world.

Many Delta flyers book on OTAs or Online Travel Agents – that is, places like  Expedia  or  Priceline  (after they start at a cash back site first like TopCashBack) because doing this vs. going direct to the airline web site they (often) get:

  • Cash back step 1
  • OTA reward points step 2
  • Credit card points paying step 3

The problem with some OTAs is that searching, and by extensions avoiding, E BASIC fares can be a real pain in the backside. Some sites warn you while others you have to really pay attention to the fare class and just know what you are ending up with.

Also, unlike Delta, it is most times not possible to just check a box or drop down and tell the site you want to search for all fares other than E BASIC fares and this can result in lots of lost time as you hunt and peck for flights and choices that are at least “LUTVX” fares (the lowest Delta fare classes above E BASIC).

Lastly, beyond all the above frustrations, there is always the tiniest risk you could, in addition to ending up in an E BASIC fare, that it could also be termed a consolidator fare and not earn you the points you expected either. Now I get the chance for this is remote and tends to only happen when you are buying an airline ticket say in combination with a hotel or cruise or other package. Normally this is not an issue but worth touching on.

How to avoid E BASIC fares on

So now to my question and where I need your help. I find myself, since I value my Delta MQMs i.e. elite points so much, just always booking on I love that on the “advanced page” with one quick click I can exclude these awful E BASIC fares in my search so I don’t even see them and then simply look at the cheapest price for the flights for the day of my travel. Are you maybe doing the same? Are you giving up on possibly earning more points starting at an OTA because of the not wanting to A) risk not getting points and B) the frustration with E BASIC fares on those sites?

Please let me know in the comments below and any other frustrations or solutions you have found to avoid ending up booked in an E BASIC Delta fare ticket! – René





  1. I never use OTA’s. They bombard you with spam, are full of fake reviews (Expedia refused to post my real review of a hotel the one time I used them) and create complications with refunds and IRROPs. I find what I want on ITA or google flights and go book it on the airline website. done.

  2. I book directly with Delta because:
    1. I find their site better than ever in finding the right fare.
    2. I like being able to see all the fare classes on the initial search
    3. Iv’e heard too many horror stories by friends who use OTA’s and don’t get the seats. etc they paid extra for.

    Once the airlines gutted the travel agent business in the ’90’s, I saw no point in adding another middleman.

    If I am unsure of options and routes, especially for international, I’ll use Google Flights to get me close, but I always book on

    On that last note, I found Air France flights that were not on the Delta site, but when I called Delta they are in fact Delta marketed flights, so I\’ll get “full” credit.

  3. I think most readers of this blog will book direct, but you bring up a valid point – the OTAs should make it easy to opt-out of E fares to do the right thing for their users. Not on by default, but easy to see. They are risking losing customers over this and may not be aware of it.

  4. I agree with Rene’s way of booking tix and sometimes follow the process rjb uses in the comment above. It seems that there are almost a thousand different steps to remember when booking Delta in order to get the best fare. (and not get taken advantage of …).But hey … they have our back!

  5. I usually book via Delta’s site after using Kayak to find some combinations. Lately I have used the Amex travel site so I could get back 50% points after paying with points. I know that this just got reduced to 35% on 6/1. They also now do 5 points per dollar on airline travel booked on the Amex site, so I used that for my son’s trip to Boston on JetBlue ($200 cheaper than DL).

    So far I have not noticed the Amex travel site to offer me the E class fares and I personally think that Amex points are worth more than DL miles, especially at 1/5 the cost.

  6. Here’s what I do, for what it’s worth. I go to Matrix-ITA Search powered by Google, since it allows me to search several airport choices at once. Where I live, I actually have 5 airport options to utilize. Once I find the right combination, I go straight to Delta. Now that Delta has incorported software to allow me to automatically choose my travel partner without having to re-enter Skymiles account info, etc., booking is easier. I never use OTA’s.

  7. Disclaimer: I don’t always book with OTAs due to wanting to avoid consolidator fares (to get my points) etc.

    HOWEVER: There are times, when I’m trying to go for a bargain budget for an essential trip that I will use an OTA. But, rather than avoiding the OTA due to the E fares, I avoid flying Delta to avoid the E fares.

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