If you can save money, are you prepared to pay for a basic airplane experience? Delta Air Lines’ basic economy seating is a cheaper option, but offers less perks than regular main cabin tickets. Is it possible to bring a carry-on with you? Are I guaranteed a seat? What does basic economy look like on Delta?

Learn what to expect from Delta basic economy flights, how to book tickets and other ways you can add value to your flight.

What can you expect to fly basic economy with Delta

What is included in Delta’s basic economy fare? And what can it do for passengers who want to save money? These are the basics:

You can check your destination to determine the Delta basic economy baggage rules. Domestic passengers will be charged the same as main cabin passengers for their checked bags: $30 for the first and $40 for each second.

Checked bags are required for international travelers. However, the rates vary depending on where they are going. The fees range from $30 per person to the Caribbean to $75 for Europe. Basic economy passengers flying to Asia get one free checked bag

Carry on allowance: If you fly Delta basic economy, you can bring a carry-on or personal item free of charge.

Seats: You can sit in the main cabin but you cannot choose your seat. It is possible for your reservation to be split if you have booked multiple people. You will not be given a seat unless you pay for it. This happens either at check-in, or when you board. However, you are guaranteed a seat just like any other ticket.

Lounges: A basic economy ticket does not grant access to any lounges, as you may have guessed. A basic economy ticket does not prevent you from accessing the Delta Sky Club if you have other benefits, such as an annual membership, or credit card benefit.

Entertainment: Don’t be afraid to have fun on your flight. You can still enjoy your seatback screen and the ability to view in-flight movies and TV through Delta Studio with a basic economy ticket.

Food & beverages: The in-flight drinks and snacks are the same as what you’d get in the main cabin.

Earn Rewards: Passengers who fly basic economy on Delta are not eligible for redeemable Delta SkyMiles, or credit towards Medallion status.

Book a basic economy flight with Delta

It is easy to book a Delta basic economy ticket. You can search for a flight the same way you would normally — enter the destination pair, travel dates, and number of passengers. Click the red arrow for the search results. This example shows us how to find a one-way ticket between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles on December 15.

If there is a basic economy option, it will be the first option on the left. The results will be displayed in the same manner regardless of whether you choose to pay with dollars or miles.

After you have selected the flight that you wish, a disclaimer will be displayed to inform you of limitations in booking a basic economy ticket.

  • After check-in, no seat(s) will be assigned.

  • No modifications allowed.

  • Cancel to partial eCredit (ticket less $99/person).

  • Last to Board and not eligible for upgrades .

  • No miles or credit towards SkyMiles Medallion status.

To proceed with booking a basic economy flight, please check the “Accept Restrictions”.

By checking this box, you can avoid miscommunications regarding the type of fare that you are purchasing and also acknowledge the restrictions associated to a basic economy Delta ticket.

Delta basic economy vs. main cabin

Delta offers three choices for economy passengers: Comfort Plus, Main Cabin and Basic Economy. What are the differences between Delta main cabin and basic economy tickets?

Delta’s basic economy fares do not allow for seat selections, ticket modifications, full refunds, or reward-earning opportunities. Basic economy passengers cannot be upgraded and they are the last to board Delta aircrafts.

Main-class passengers have the option to choose their seats and cancel or change their tickets at no additional cost. They can also earn flight rewards and board before basic economy passengers.

Booking a basic economy ticket means you must accept a random seat assignment, even if it is the middle seat. You also need to be certain you won’t have to cancel or modify your flight. The trip will also require you to give up your miles.

Compare the benefits and the price difference before you make your final decision.

Other ways to get great value

A basic economy ticket is just that, a ticket. But there are ways to make your trip more enjoyable.

Book with Delta SkyMiles

You won’t be able to earn any rewards for basic economy flights that are paid in cash. Instead, redeem miles to book these fares and keep the money for future trips. The first flight from Salt Lake City, California to Los Angeles costs $89 while the second flight is $129. The rates for paying with miles are also different: 6,000 SkyMiles vs. 9,500 SkyMiles.

According to NerdWallet valuations, the first option is worth 1.39 cents per miles and the second one yields 1.30 cents. This is lower than average for Delta SkyMiles. This is a small difference in value, but you should still carefully consider all flight options and choose the redemption rates that will be most beneficial to you.

Get credit card perks

Delta basic economy passengers board the plane at the last boarding zone.

You can get more perks if you frequently check luggage: selected co-branded credit card holders will be able to check their first bag free of charge, along with up to eight other companions who are traveling on the same reservation. These terms and conditions apply.

Visit a Sky Club

For basic flights, you can enjoy a little bit of class by joining a Delta Sky Club, which offers complimentary drinks, snacks, and Wi-Fi. Delta does not sell single-visit lounge passes anymore, but Delta SkyMiles(r), Platinum American Express Card holders can get access for $39 per trip.

You get free access to Sky Clubs when you have a Delta SkyMiles(r), Reserve American Express Card, or The Platinum Card(r). The Delta SkyMiles(r), Reserve American Express Card includes two one-time guest passes each year. Additional guests will be charged $39 per visit. These terms and conditions apply.

Delta basic economy, recapped

You shouldn’t expect much when you fly basic economy on Delta. The seats in basic economy are exactly the same as the main economy cabin. However, they can’t be picked up for free and you cannot cancel or change your ticket if there’s an unexpected event.

This is because these flights do not offer any rewards. We recommend that you choose a main-cabin ticket if the price difference is not too much.

Photo by Delta Air Lines.

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