Welcome to a weekly feature on the Eye of the Flyer 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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