Delta Crushes Basic Economy Mileage Earning

The concept of “Basic Economy” has been around for awhile now. Basic Economy fares generally entitle passengers to a seat on the plane and little more. But no major airline had taken the final step – removing the eligibility to earn miles and elite status credit from Basic Economy fares – until now…

For flights purchased after December 9, 2021 for travel after January 1, 2022, Delta Airlines passengers buying a Basic Economy fare will no longer receive the following:

  • Redeemable Skymiles
  • Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM), Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS)

I would assume that you won’t be able to earn miles and status credit in partner programs either – from Delta Basic Economy fares – but this change might not be implemented immediately…

Hot take

This is a risky move. Many people choose their frequent flyer program based on the miles accumulated on their first few flights; many then go on to sign up for a co-branded credit card and other lucrative opportunities for the airline to make money.

In addition, Delta is gambling that status and miles conscious passengers will trade up to a full Economy fare instead of moving over to a competing airline. (leading to additional revenue from Delta’s current customers)

Delta is also gambling that infrequent, leisure flyers truly do not care about earning a handful of miles for a flight.

And finally, perhaps Delta is somewhat over-confident. Historically, Delta has led the airline industry and the likes of United and American have followed. With American now going in a different direction with its Loyalty Points scheme, United is free to either follow Delta along meekly, or to make a major play for the market segment that typically chooses Basic Economy fares.

Bottom line

Long ago, Skymiles ceased to be an interesting loyalty program for those who want to earn miles and spend them on aspirational, long-haul flights in First or Business Class. In that sense, this change is irrelevant and just continues the trend of redeemable miles being earned on the ground from partner transactions.

Nonetheless, it feels incredibly punitive to offer NO miles or elite status credit for somebody choosing to fly on Delta Airlines…

You can read about these changes on the Delta website by clicking here.



  1. enrique says

    we should boycot the airlines that do this kind of behaviour. I used to be 1K in United, and after they butchered mileage plus I have not fled a single time on them. But as I do not live in the US for me is easy. There must be a way to stop them doing this.

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