Delta has topped many of the lists of the best airlines in the U.S. lately. Loyal customers tend to love the quality of service, access to lounges, and on-time performance. While you won’t need to worry about too many hidden fees when flying Delta, check out these tips to simplify the experience and better enjoy your next Delta flight.
Know When to Avoid Basic Economy
Delta started selling Basic Economy tickets before any other major U.S. airline and it has continued to evolve this stripped-down fare class. Starting in 2022, Basic Economy tickets no longer earn any SkyMiles or credits toward Delta Medallion status. This means if you are a frequent Delta flyer who is chasing elite status or enjoys earning frequent flyer miles, you’ll probably want to avoid Basic Economy at all costs.
The (sort of) good news is that Delta’s Basic Economy tickets can now be canceled—for a fee. This is a welcome change from the former policy which simply didn’t allow changes or cancellations for Basic Economy tickets, but you’ll need to do some math and compare other restrictions to decide if Basic Economy is worth it for you.
Basic Economy passengers are last to board, upgrades are not allowed, and you won’t get seat assignments until after check-in. If these restrictions do not sit well with you, you’ll want to purchase the next level Main Cabin fare class, which includes standard seat selection, allows upgrades, and has no change/cancellation fees.
For those still considering a Basic Economy fare for a cheaper ticket, you’ll want to pay close attention to the cancellation fees and checked bag policies, which vary depending on where you are traveling.
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Domestic and Short-Haul International Flights
If you’re traveling within the U.S./Canada or from the U.S./Canada to Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean, you can cancel a Basic Economy ticket and receive a partial credit toward a future flight (minus a $99 cancellation charge). Checked bag fees are the same for both Basic Economy and Main Cabin tickets in this region so you should only consider the other restrictions when deciding what fare class to book.
The price difference between Basic and Main Cabin varies but tends to be an extra $25-45 each way for Main Cabin fares in this region. Due to the minimal cost for an upgrade and extra benefits you’ll receive, I’d say it’s often worth paying for a Main Cabin ticket when flying domestically or on short-haul international flights.
Long-Haul International Flights
For all other international flights, Basic Economy tickets have a $199 cancellation charge and checked baggage allowances can sometimes vary between Basic Economy and Main Cabin tickets. For instance, flights to Europe require a $75 charge each way for the first checked bag when traveling on a Basic Economy fare, while Main Cabin tickets include one free checked bag.
If you travel with a checked bag, it’s often a no-brainer to pay for the Main Cabin fare on certain routes as it includes your baggage along with all of the other perks. For shoestring travelers who only travel with carry-on baggage and don’t care about earning status or frequent flyer miles, choosing to buy Delta’s Basic Economy fare on long-haul international flights can sometimes save a significant amount of money.
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Use Delta’s Flex Search to Filter Unwanted Fares
Don’t want to fly Basic Economy? You can easily filter out these restrictive fares when searching for the best deal over a range of dates by utilizing Delta’s flexible date search tool. Just make sure to check the “My dates are flexible” box and click on the “Advanced search” to expand your options when searching on Delta’s website. You can then choose to only search for the best Main Cabin fares if you’d like to avoid Basic Economy. It’s also possible to search for other specific fare classes such as Comfort+ or Premium Select.
Download the Delta App
The Fly Delta App is an excellent tool to have on your smartphone when flying Delta. Streamline the check-in experience with automatic check-in 24 hours before departure, easily track your bags at any point along your journey, check on your flight status, and make changes to your itinerary directly on the app. One of the coolest features of the app is the ability to search maps of major airports to find restaurants, shops, and amenities including directions and estimated walking times.
Get Free Lounge Access
Access to Delta’s Sky Clubs is one of the main reasons Delta continues to be one of the best rated U.S. airlines. And you don’t need to have elite status or fly First Class to enjoy the lounge before your flight. If you hold either the Platinum Card from American Express or a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you’ll get complimentary access to Delta Sky Club when flying Delta and can bring up to two guests for $39 each. There are hefty annual fees for these cards, but they can be recuperated in many ways. For frequent Delta flyers, it can definitely be worthwhile.
Inside the lounge, you’ll be able to enjoy comfortable seating, complimentary drinks, and even a buffet in certain Sky Clubs. But one of the most underrated perks is access to Delta’s most knowledgeable agents. If you’re ever in a situation where a flight gets delayed or canceled and you need to make complicated changes to your itinerary, you’ll get fast and reliable assistance from a Sky Club agent.
Chat With Customer Service by Text
Waiting on hold for hours to speak to an airline representative is not anyone’s best use of time. I’ve found it to be much quicker and more efficient to chat with Delta’s customer service team via text when I need assistance. In the Fly Delta app, tap “more” and then scroll to the bottom where you’ll find a link to message Delta. You can also chat with Delta through its online help center. Either way, you’ll need to answer a few auto-generated questions before you’ll get an agent.
Message for Free In-flight
Delta now has Wi-Fi onboard the majority of its flights and all Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft include free messaging during your flight. Once connected to the DeltaWiFi.com network, you’ll just need to choose the free messaging option and you’ll be able to chat with friends and family on the ground via iMessage, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp for the entire flight—even on international routes. Better yet, T-Mobile customers can also get one hour of free internet access on their phones and are also able to send SMS messages.
Check for Flash Sales Using SkyMiles
Since Delta no longer publishes an award chart for booking flights with SkyMiles, the number of miles required to book a flight can vary wildly and often relates to the price of a paid ticket. This dynamic pricing method for award tickets may have more cons than pros but there is no denying that Delta occasionally releases some incredible flash deals when booking with SkyMiles.
You can check for the latest SkyMiles Deals on its website but many may be unadvertised so you’ll also want to browse around using Delta’s flexible date search tool with the “Shop with Miles” option selected and follow Twitter accounts that frequently highlight SkyMiles flash sales such as @thriftytraveler or @TPG_Alerts. Some recent flash deals have included flights to Mexico as low as 8,000 miles roundtrip and flights to Spain as low as 32,000 miles roundtrip.