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Delta Basic Economy vs. Main Cabin

For those who have purchased Delta basic economy and then paid to get an assigned seat, do you recall what the fee was? and was that fee per flight or round trip? Thanks

Posted by
20868 posts

I have never bought Basic Economy but have had to pay to reserve an ordinary seat on a European partner airline, and it charged per-flight, or at least once per direction. It definitely wasn't a round-trip fee. Be sure you actually can pay to get an assigned seat now as opposed to 24 hours before your flight. You don't want to be stuck in two middle seats.

Posted by
192 posts

I never bother with the assigned seats for the short flights, but for the long ones, beware. Sometimes there is an upgrade fee for seats that are not actually better. I recently flew and didn't get the very basic, but the basic plus, the one with the checked bag. When I went to get a seat, here's what I discovered.

Delta's Comfort Plus has extra legroom, but I was unable to upgrade to that option from my fare. My options were the regular "Main Cabin" seating in the back, so I selected a window seat near the rear of the plane. However, there were a TON of seats designated as "preferred seats" on Delta's seat selection website, mostly near the front of the Main Cabin, for which one could pay the $81 fee. However, a quick look at Seat Guru made it clear that these seats were exactly the same as my window seat. I ended up paying $120 for the exit row for one flight (lots of reasons for feeling the need to maximise my chances of a good flight for that particular leg), and that was as promised, but my guess is the poor dude next to me also paid 80 bucks for what was ultimately a standard seat. The Delta website says these seats are reserved for medallion members, but they only offer maybe a zone earlier for boarding (at best) and a quicker deplane because you are closer to the front. That's it.

On the way home I took my chances on a regular seat in the main cabin, and it was fine. Glad I didn't pay extra. It was a window, but the aisle seat beside me had also been an option.

Just make sure you are actually getting something better if you are going to pay for it.

Posted by
4211 posts

Thanks for the great suggestions and link!

I am having to rebook flights. When I look at the ticketing and seat assignment for Main cabin, I'm not allowed to pick a seat and it appears the planes are full. I think I might just pick basic economy since I think I'm not going to get what I want by paying for Main cabin. My husband will be fine, he doesn't mind the center section of seats as long as he gets an aisle.

Posted by
20868 posts

I'm not sure you can count on an aisle seat if you book Basic Economy. Be careful.

Posted by
1898 posts

By the center seat posters mean the center seat middle section not the aisle seat in the center section

Ask for the preferred seats what they’re really doing is holding those for the frequent flyers. So I just booked a flight on Delta and I can select any row row in coach

Personally I would not risk a Long flight in basic economy. If I can’t book a seat when I buy a ticket I don’t buy the ticket

Posted by
4211 posts

It'd be so much easier if I could talk to some one at Delta. Those were the days. . . I can tell the flights are close to sold out. Travel dates are just a few weeks away, beggars can't be choosy.

Posted by
4891 posts

Only you can decide how important checked luggage and having an assigned seat are to you. Is the money worth it to you? If you were sandwiched between two strangers for 8-9 hours, would you mind? Can you put up with anything to save a few bucks or are you willing to spend more to assure comfort?

My choice would be comfort. I spend a miserable trans-Atlantic flight once due to my seat, and believe me, after about 4 hours of pain, I would have paid anything for a different seat.

Posted by
4211 posts

Usually, I use miles for international travel which seems to always get me at least main cabin and I can pick my seat. Now to make changes to my flight arrangements, I had to pay in dollars. I tried to book main cabin and when I got to pick my seat, I couldn’t. The only seats were in the middle. So why pay main cabin, when the available seats are lousy anyway? When I originally planned my trip, I had nonstop and I picked my seats. The arrangements were ideal, but I’m not doing my original trip, now. Now that I’ve made changes, there really aren’t many options especially when there seems to be just a couple flights to my destination a day. I have status with Delta and they’ve been good to me the last few years (except for constantly changing my flights). I arrive to the gate early, smile and maintain a pleasant attitude. I never check a bag on the outbound flight and since I have a Delta AMEX, I could check one for free, anyway. We will likely end up in the seat type we like, but separated. We will be together for 24 days. We can manage being separated for our flights. I’m not trying to save a buck, there are literally no economy plus seats available.

My question was to get a sense of cost to pick a seat if I purchased basic economy. I will call Delta this week to discuss when I am able to hold for hours. Maybe an agent will be able to help me or maybe not. When a plane is close to full, there isn’t much to do other than be grateful I got a seat.

Posted by
3590 posts

Basic economy will allow you to select a seat @24 hours before departure (check in). I have been able to move to a window or aisle at that time, usually.

In the days leading up to this there will be gradual movement of people toward the front of the plane freeing up seats. If you buy main cabin you can set up an alert for free in the Seat Alerts app, which will monitor windows or aisles and tell you when to grab one in the days leading up to the flight. It will also check during the last 24 hours if on basic economy.

There appears to be a strategy to not select a seat and not check in early, I did this once and got comfort plus (or whatever it’s called on United) since that was the only open seat.

To answer your question I think seat upgrade pricing is always dynamic so there’s no correct answer.

Once flying basic economy on Delta on one itinerary we were all split up in middle seats, even minor children were seated alone between strangers.

Posted by
180 posts

I always fly basic economy. Some where I pick my seat and some that they assign them to me. I’ve flown with my mom on two trips with basic economy tickets where we couldn’t pick a seat at all and there was only one out of the four flights we were not sat together, and on thy flight she had no issue asking people to move so we could sit together. Any of the flights I took by myself, I always got a window or an aisle seat. Once I forgot to check in until hours before my flight and by then, all the good seats were taken so I decided to just leave it to chance and didn’t pick a seat. I board the plane to find out they assigned me to premium economy on my flight to Prague. Sometimes you can really luck out booking basic economy. There was one other time I got assigned premium economy when I bought basic economy tickets.

Every time I’ve booked a flight though, no matter the airline, picking seats was charged per flight. So if you had two connecting flights, you’d have to pay three separate seat fees. Never made sense to me to do it that way but that seems to be the way it is. Make sure to double check you can even buy assigned seats because many times with basic economy, not being able to buy a seat is a restriction

Posted by
1898 posts

I realize this won't be popular but when you come to me and say "will you move so I can sit with x" 90% of the time I will just say no. Sorry but I picked my seat, I may have paid for it etc.... your failure to do the same should not be my issue.

And of course the we "ALWAYS" get seated together.. yeah until you don't and then what.

As someone who pre-covid flew almost weekly on Delta trust me , no you won't ALWAYS get seated together, no you won't always get upgraded to comfort etc.. (I have watched some entertaining moments when people realized yes they were separated in middle seats all over the back section of the plane)

Posted by
3590 posts

If you purchase tickets on the same itinerary, they seat you together. Every major airline.

No, not true. As I posted above even minor children can be seated alone between strangers.

Posted by
4211 posts

FYI, THIS IS AN OLD POST AND THE FIRST HALF OF THE COMMENTS ARE OLD. Things have changed a lot since the original post so as usual, double check any information that people provide.

I have flown quite a bit the last 3 years or so, and also purchased and managed the tickets for my daughter when she flies home for holiday. I won't purchase basic economy when we go to Europe. I also typically will not fly basic economy when I'm traveling with someone.

At the beginning of the pandemic when planes were less full, I frequently would be able to select a seat with a basic economy ticket 24 hours before when I check in. For at least a year now, I have been unable to choose a seat at check in on a basic economy ticket, usually I have to wait until I'm at the gate. A couple times seats for basic economy were still be assigned within 30 minutes of the flight. That said, I have always been able to get the desired seat type (window) for myself or my daughter on a basic economy ticket. A couple times it has been quite a desirable seat, in comfort plus or an exit row. I attribute this to traveling alone, being polite and sometimes just luck.

If I really care where I end up, I'd absolutely would not choose basic economy. I will switch seats with people if I can get the same seat type. I wouldn't dream of asking someone to switch when quite often, people have paid more to get the seat they like.

In terms of the recent change eliminating mile accrual for the basic economy seat, I don't think it matters much. Miles have been accruing based on purchase price for a while now. So when we get tickets at a great price, whether it was basic economy or main cabin, we earned few miles anyway.

Now with Omicron, I'm even more likely to purchase main cabin so I can place myself or my daughter in a seat that is a bit more "protected". No, I don't delude myself in thinking that it helps that much.

I'm interested to see what happens to ticket sales in the future. Delta (and the other airlines) have made the basic economy ticket so undesirable that I think they may end up with empty seats or having to put people that purchased main cabin tickets in those seats. If I purchase main cabin tickets, I'm sure as heck not sitting in a middle seat or in the middle bank of seats on a wide body. When I had to rebook my daughter's travel home from Hawaii for Christmas, I couldn't get seat assignment when I purchased the main cabin ticket and then Delta assigned her a middle seat. I called the airline and said, I paid for main cabin, I'd like to get her a window seat, and a window seat was opened up for her.

I think with all the uncertainty in the world right now, people should be and are going to be even more cautious about purchasing a ticket that is not changeable.

Posted by
27504 posts

this zombie post from August was woken up today by a spammer bell amy hoping you'll click his 2 part link.

Everything before the spammer is way out of date.

Folks replying in good faith today will have the updated info.

Posted by
3590 posts

all the good seats were taken so I decided to just leave it to chance and didn’t pick a seat. I board the plane to find out they assigned me to premium economy

Good to know, it wasn't a fluke when I got comfort so will do this in future, not select a seat when the good ones are gone.

Posted by
6855 posts

My wife has mobility issues, and we travel with a folding lithium battery electric scooter.

We get the early seating, and they usually put her up toward the front of the cabin with no upcharges. Most restaurants also sit us quick too.

We're perfectly capable of traveling efficiently with the scooter, including carrying our own luggage.

Posted by
2988 posts

I realize this won't be popular but when you come to me and say "will
you move so I can sit with x" 90% of the time I will just say no.
Sorry but I picked my seat, I may have paid for it etc.... your
failure to do the same should not be my issue.

Carol, I'm right there with you. Especially when they want to give me a worse seat or when they are presumptuously already sitting in my seat when I arrive at it.

Posted by
5343 posts

We fly Delta and/or its partners like Air France or KLM 90% of the time and I have the Delta Skymiles Amex card.
Wife likes the window seat and I like the aisle, so we would almost never book the basic economy and take the chance on having to sit in a middle seat.

Posted by
5343 posts

Aimee,
No, we might occasionally talk over that person, but not much. Also, we usually get to know the person a bit.

I like to get up from my seat about once an hour to stretch my legs or visit the facilities.

Posted by
12 posts

I definitely hate the middle seat and will pay whatever it takes to buy an aisle or window, particularly if it's a long flight. Regarding couples who select window and aisle, and pass things over the poor middle seat person: instead consider selecting aisle seats next to each other. Perhaps the middle seat person doesn't want to be chatted up against their will from right and left.

Posted by
1004 posts

RE: Couples booking aisle/window and hoping the middle stays open.

I have seen some couples do this and when the middle seat became occupied, they offered the person with the middle seat the window or aisle seat, and then the couple sat next to each other.

Posted by
2438 posts

My two cents worth, I am willing pay extra because I specifically want/need an aisle seat (hello little bladder). So if someone asked me to change, I'd say sorry I had to pay extra to get this particular seat. That should do the trick, shouldn't it?

Posted by
4211 posts

I like a window seat or I can't sleep. My husband is quite tall and needs the aisle. We don't necessarily pick those seats hoping no one sits in the middle. Of course, it is kind of nice when its empty but we know someone, especially these days, will likely be in it. We do not desperately need to talk to each other while we are in flight. He likes to listen to his music and read his magazines and I watch movies. If we do pass something, it's usually a granola bar or something and we'll offer our seat mate one as well. If we converse, it would be something we'd include the seatmate in, though generally, neither of us talks much.

In general, I do like to avoid the 3-4-3 configuration, anyway. I like the 2 seat rows.

I think most people are not particularly enamored with flights (unless they are in first class). Flying is a means to an end. If people could be extra careful to be thoughtful, flights could be a bit more pleasant.

Posted by
290 posts

On longer flights over the ocean, my husband and I always pick aisle seats across from each other. I'm one of the ones who needs to get up often to use the bathroom and hate climbing over people. On flights over land, my husband likes to look out the window, so we pick the window and aisle seats with the hope that no-one will be in the middle. If they put someone in the middle, neither of us move (I still want that aisle seat). We keep our conversations and sharing stuff to a minimum. That person in the middle is not going to be happy, and I don't want to add to their misery.

Posted by
3144 posts

jules m, I am not enamored of flying even when I am in First Class. which is happening pretty often on short haul domestic flights these days. I suspect they can't First Class seats on short haul flights and start looking to see who they can upgrade from regular economy so they can resell that person's economy seat.