Why No More Upgrades on Basic Economy Airfares on Delta Air Lines Will Most Likely Not Affect You

“Any tickets that are purchased now for travel after February 1, 2015, will no longer be eligible for Complimentary Medallion Upgrades according to this chart posted on Delta’s site when booking basic economy fares.”

The Weekly Flyer posted the bad news in this article earlier today at Points, Miles & Martinis — but is it really bad news?

Let’s be realistic: with the exception of few Medallion elite level members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program, you are most likely not going to get that upgrade anyway.

First, all other published airfares have priority over what is known as the E fare. Yes — even that passenger who purchased a T fare and has at least the same level of Medallion elite level status as you will get the upgrade before you. Strike one.

Second, load factors have been high lately. There were no open seats on the last flight operated by Delta Air Lines on which I was a passenger, for example. If E fares were offered for that flight, what do you believe are the chances that you would get an upgrade? Strike two.

More importantly, I have not seen any E fares on longer flights within the domestic United States such as between Atlanta and Los Angeles and Atlanta and Las Vegas, — the flights on which I have recently been a passenger. I have only seen them sporadically on shorter flights such as between Atlanta and West Palm Beach. That could change, of course — but for me, paying more money to be eligible for a “complimentary” upgrade for 90 minutes for an extra beverage or two, a snack and a wider seat just does not make much sense to me.

Three strikes. You’re out.

More importantly, however, is that Medallion elite level status will be earned based on revenue starting in 2015. Purchase enough of these E fares in 2015 and you will earn fewer SkyMiles — even though you could save money on airfare for the same flights.

Although both of my experiences as a passenger who purchased E fares earlier this year were positive ones, that does not mean I am thrilled with them and the strict restrictions which come with them, which include:

  • No refunds at all under any circumstance, no matter what
  • No changes are permitted at all at any time
  • Your seat is assigned to you when you check in on the day of your flight — not even when you check in via the Internet before you arrive at the airport


You are basically choosing between paying for benefits and saving options. How much money would you be willing to pay to continue to enjoy the benefits you earned as a Medallion elite level member; or — worded differently — how much money would you be willing to save in order to consider doing without some of those benefits?

I really do not consider the actual change as a loss. Rather, I consider the action of changing those benefits as negative. Is yet another restriction — no matter how insignificant it may be – really necessary?

6 thoughts on “Why No More Upgrades on Basic Economy Airfares on Delta Air Lines Will Most Likely Not Affect You”

  1. Jake from MSP says:

    Embarassing… Medallion qualification doesn’t have any changes next year. It’s still distance sooooo….

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I always own up to my errors and you and the other readers are correct, Jake from MSP — especially since I quoted my own article written on February 26 earlier this year which contains the correct information…

      …but this one I partially blame on technology while I am traveling, where Internet connections are not always reliable. I corrected the one part which was originally supposed to be in the article, which was that I have not seen E fares on longer-haul domestic flights within the United States and asking if that upgrade were even possible on the shorter flights, is it worth it?

      Has anyone else seen E fares for sale on longer domestic flights within the United States?

      Thank you, Jake from MSP, Chris and Keith.

  2. Keith says:

    As Jake said…no changes to Medallion qualification criteria for 2015.

  3. Joey says:

    Wow. Do you think this is the end of mileage running on DL?

  4. Chris says:

    Big and bold on Delta’s website: “The way you earn Medallion status is not changing.” That is embarrassing to miss.

  5. Alan says:

    new booking classes lower than N will introduce down the road.

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