In March 2012 Delta introduced “Basic Economy” (“E” class) fares that were more restrictive than regular coach fares.
The idea was to offer them only in specific markets where Delta is competing against a low cost carrier — Delta has to match the low cost carriers on price, so gosh darnit they’re only going to give the same product that those airlines do at that price.
Put another way, instead of beating low cost carriers by offering better value for the price, they were going to only offer what those carriers do.
Basic Economy fares were not changeable, and didn’t allow pre-assigned seating. But Delta’s elites, at least, could still receive upgrades.
For tickets purchased starting February 1, 2015, Delta’s elites will no longer be eligible for upgrades on these fares.
I wasn’t sure if the fares currently allowed same-day confirmed changes or standby travel, but the Delta website says that they do.
Basic Economy fares are non refundable and no cancellations or changes may be made once the ticket is purchased. However, this fare is eligible for Risk Free Cancellation and our Same-day Travel Changes programs.
Apparently the ability to same-day confirm or standby will be going away on these fares as well.
This is the ultimate extension of an airline being loyal to a fare on a given trip rather than a passenger. A customer flying 125,000 miles in paid international business class, who buys one “E” ticket domestically, will sit in back and be unable to change their ticket.
Delta customers flying routes where the airline competes with Spirit, beware. A Detroit-based flyer doesn’t just have to pay attention on their Florida trips, anymore, since Spirit is flying to Dallas, Houston, and Denver as well. In fairness, Delta does make it clear on their website what sort of fare is being booked.
Delta has minimum revenue requirements for elite status, so presumably customers fly on these fares are doing so only occasionally. Delta sees the customers as profitable enough to reward — just not all the time. A revenue-based program isn’t enough: they need to punish their most loyal flyers on individual trips, too.
(HT: Points, Miles & Martinis)