Delta Air Lines announced last week that Basic Economy tickets purchased December 9 or later and flown on or after January 1, 2022, no longer qualify toward elite status (i.e., no MQM, MQD, MQS), nor do they earn redeemable SkyMiles.
It’s not exactly a customer-friendly move. I think some Delta passengers will bounce to other airlines. Several readers made their feelings known in our Comments section.
Reader Geoff noted, “I ALWAYS buy Basic Economy from home to a hub because Delta (or their regional sub) still flies CRJ2s and all the seats suck. Why buy main cabin on a CRJ2?”
Kevin is leaving Delta — and understandably wants to feel LUVed. “I am a Platinum and would often buy the Basic Economy seat for my almost weekly one-hour flight r/t. But I would always cross-shop it against Southwest, which flies the same route. I figured the SW product was comparable to the BE product and, in cases where the schedule and pricing was roughly equal, would always break the tie in favor Delta precisely because I could earn 500 MQMs per segment. No longer. SW will win the tie every day if that’s not there.”
Corbett added, “If I were a BE customer, my Delta Reserve AmEx would have been smelted the moment I learned of this change. Reductions in mileage earned, I could understand. Revoking all earning? No way!”
One of my relatives — “Aunt Abby,” about whom you’ll read in a separate post — is going to be a first-time grandma soon. She flies every few months (soon to be more often than that, I bet) between her home in Orange County, California, and her daughter and son-in-law’s house near Salt Lake City. She’s fine buying Basic Economy tickets. It saves her a few bucks and she holds a Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. The Delta Gold Amex gets her first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 boarding. But she also likes earning SkyMiles. I’m guessing that she’ll burn the welcome bonus she earned on her Delta Gold Amex and then flee for Southwest, which flies from SNA to SLC.
Then she’ll probably ditch Amex in favor of Chase — which offers not only Southwest Airlines credit cards but an attractive portfolio of Ultimate Rewards cards — many of which feature no annual fees. (Ultimate Rewards is a transfer partner of Southwest Rapid Rewards.)
That — combined with Corbett’s comment — got me thinking.
Delta Amex Cardholders Should Earn SkyMiles and Medallion Qualifying Units on Basic Economy Tickets
Here’s an idea: what if Delta rewarded its Delta Amex cardholders’ loyalty — and allowed them to continue earning redeemable SkyMiles and MQM, MQD, MQS on Basic Economy tickets?
Sure, some Basic Economy passengers don’t necessarily care about Medallion status. But they do want to earn points towards award trips.
This could be an impetus for some people to become new Delta Amex cardholders. Or, perhaps, more importantly, others not canceling their existing Delta Amex cards. Not only will a few folks take their travel business elsewhere, but they’ll see no reason to hold their Delta Amexes any longer.
To be fair (or fare, 😉 ), it’d be reasonable that this applies only to cards like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and higher. The no-annual-fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card (see rates and fees) shouldn’t be considered for something like this.
I’ve never purchased a Basic Economy ticket. René did once — I think out of morbid curiosity or because he wanted to blog about it or something. There are a bunch of Delta Medallion and regular-ish Delta travelers who will always buy at least Main Cabin. They want to pick their seats and have more flexible change options.
Some people buy tickets solely based on price — and don’t care if they’re flying Delta, Southwest, Spirit, Frontier, United, American, Sun Country, or Allegiant. They’ll sit where they sit, as long as it saves them money.
Others genuinely enjoy flying Delta and saving money. Like my Aunt Abby. She’s fine with Basic Economy fares and rules. And she likes the perks that her Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card affords her.
Unfortunately, Delta is playing chicken with her loyalty — and that of others just like her. Delta makes it seem like Basic Economy passengers are no longer wanted.
And maybe they aren’t. Even the ones who hold Delta’s prized Amex cards.
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