Delta Let Me Buy A Seat Assignment On A Basic Economy Ticket

by joeheg

Delta was one of the first airlines to offer basic economy tickets, back in 2013. Originally the ticket class was supposed to allow Delta to compete against low cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier by offering a no-frills, extremely restrictive ticket.

Eventually, every airline started to offer a ticket class with more restrictions and less flexibility. Airlines have made tweaks here and there but as things stand now, Delta Airlines sells one of the most restrictive basic economy tickets out there.

Here’s what to expect when buying the cheapest ticket Delta has to offer:

With Basic Economy please remember refunds and upgrades are not available at any time. Basic Economy is best for those traveling by themselves with firm travel plans. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the restrictions so you know if Basic Economy is right for you.

  • No seat(s) assigned until after check-in, not together
  • No changes allowed*
  • Cancelable for partial eCredit
  • Last to board & not eligible for upgrades
  • No miles earned; no credit toward SkyMiles Medallion Status

Delta makes sure you know you won’t get an assigned seat until after check-in. That’s exactly what we experienced the one time we’ve flown in Delta basic economy.

Call me a glutton for punishment or just plain cheap, but I booked another Delta basic economy ticket for a flight to Atlanta. I was traveling solo for a quick weekend and the price difference was enough to make me accept the restrictions.

I pulled up the Delta app just to make sure I hadn’t been logged out during an iOS upgrade. When I opened the app, I checked my flight.

While I was still 23 hours from check-in, the “Purchase Seat” tab was activated. Out of curiosity, I tapped the button.

There are 30 open seats on the flight. However, most of them are in first class or Comfort+ seats which are unattainable for an upgrade from my Basic Economy fare.

However, at the back of the plane, there are several available seats. 10 middle seats and one window to be exact. I took that to mean that I had more than a 90% chance of getting a middle seat on this flight.

I clicked on the single window seat and found that Delta would let me purchase it for $14.

Yes, I only have 44 SkyMiles in my account. I view that as an accomplishment. 🙂

I paid $14 for the seat at the back of the plane. Since I have Delta as my airline of choice on my AMEX Platinum Card, I’ll get the money back as part of the Airline Fee Reimbursement.

What was most surprising to me was that I was offered a seat assignment when booking a Basic Economy fare. Everything on Delta’s website and past experiences indicated that I wouldn’t get a seat assignment until at the gate. I’ve never had the option to pick a seat, even for a price.

We rarely book Basic Economy fares so I don’t know if this happens regularly or if Delta is testing out selling seat assignments, even if all you get to pick is from are the worst seats on the plane.

Does anyone else have experience being offered seat selection on a Delta Basic Economy ticket?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Jesus September 17, 2022 - 6:50 pm

I have read other experiences where some have said a week before they have been able to buy a seat.

joeheg September 18, 2022 - 2:22 pm

I’ve seen some reports of the same 1-week timeframe but it’s not an official program.

Jesus September 19, 2022 - 6:35 pm

I’ll be traveling in basic economy to Spain in December. Although at first I wasn’t allowed to select a seat in any of the four segments, somehow I was later able to select a seat for the two international legs.

Chris Leavy September 17, 2022 - 7:04 pm

“I paid $14 for the seat at the back of the plane. Since I have Delta as my airline of choice on my AMEX Platinum Card, I’ll get the money back as part of the Airline Fee Reimbursement.”

What is this fee reimbursement thing? I have a Delta Gold Amex – is this something I can access by making Delta my airline of choice?

joeheg September 18, 2022 - 2:20 pm

The AMEX Platinum Card, which earns Membership Rewards points, has an airline fee reimbursement credit as a perk. The Delta AMEX cards, which earn Delta SkyMiles, do not have such a credit.

Miguel Aragones September 18, 2022 - 11:23 pm

I usually travel Basic Economy (I’m military so I don’t pay for extras) but never pay for seat. They want you to pay for it, but all times I do check in almost last min since worst seats are given first. Or simply don’t and go to the counter and smile to agent and proceed to ask if there’s any “good” seat available and I can tell 100% I get decent seats for free. I know Delta is very restrictive with free upgrades but I don’t fight for that as soon I get a good seat (of course NEVER middle seat).


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