Basic Economy seems to be undergoing an inevitable expansion. United and American are rapidly expanding the markets in which they offer Basic Economy, and Delta has began expanding the product to international flight since late 2015.
Earlier this year, we did a product comparison between Basic Economy on the three legacy US airlines. Delta came out ahead, offering passengers in Basic Economy both a carry-on item to be stored in the overhead bin, as well as a personal item to be placed under the seat. Meanwhile, United came in last—on top of all the restrictions involving seat assignment and boarding, they offer no elite credits to passengers in Basic Economy.
Though American has started to offer Basic Economy fares to selected Caribbean destinations, Delta is the only US airline that offers it on transatlantic flights. Delta’s Basic Economy on international flights carry similar restriction as domestic flights:
- Seat assignment only available after check-in
- No refunds, ticket changes, or standbys
- Last-zone boarding, with no opportunity to buy-up to Priority Boarding
- No upgrades to Delta ONE, First/Business Class, or Comfort+
Until yesterday, Delta still offers at least a free checked bag for all passengers on their transatlantic flights. This is an important inclusion, as many passengers on these longer flights tend to be on extended trips, where a checked bag might be necessary.
However, passengers ticketing on or after December 6, 2017, for travel on/after April 10, 2018 will no longer receive a free checked bag on flights between the US and Europe/North Africa. Passengers will either have to buy-up to Main Cabin, or pay $60 to receive a checked bags on these flights.
As far as I can tell, Delta didn’t make an announcement about it—they simply added the language to their “Baggage Fees” page.
However, I have to give Delta some credit for at least making it clear when passengers book these flights on Delta’s website.
The price difference on this round-trip is $120, which is exactly how much it would cost for a Basic Economy passenger to check a bag. I suppose this reinforces the idea that Delta doesn’t actually want anyone to buy Basic Economy, but rather uses it as a way to raise existing fares.
Of course, if you have a co-branded Delta credit card, like the Delta Gold SkyMiles credit card, you will still get your first checked bag free. Unlike American, which limits co-branded credit card holders to free checked bags on domestic flights, Delta cards do not have a language limiting the kind of flights on which you can use this benefit.
Passengers flying before April 10, 2018 will not be affected, regardless of when they buy their tickets. However, if you are planning an international trip with Delta after this date, be aware of what is and what isn’t included on your ticket!