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.
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.
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 Delta.com. 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