06 Jul Avoiding Delta Basic Economy via Amex Pay with Points

Basic Economy – we all hate it, and we all attempt to avoid it. There is just nothing worse than perusing Google Flights, finding a great Delta fare, only to find out that it is a Basic A$$ Economy fare!

Lit-really nothing worse in the entire world than Basic Economy tricks…

Sure, the Basic Economy fare is a bit cheaper, but VERY restrictive. It’s my opinion (and many others’ as well) that the little break in price is nowhere near enough to justify the loss in standard airline ticket terms.

Even Delta recognizes how lousy Basic Economy fares are. No early seat assignment, no ticket changes, no access to premium products via upgrades… It’s almost like they feel bad selling it! (Ya, right!)

But, at least Delta makes it obvious to potential customers on their website that they are purchasing Basic Economy fare with restrictions.

Delta Basic Economy via American Express Travel

Unfortunately for us American Express Membership Rewards enthusiasts, avoiding Delta Basic Economy when booking via Amex Online Travel Portal is quite tricky!

Now, typically the Amex Pay with Points option presents a low value for Membership Rewards at 1 cent per point, but for those of us that picked up the Business Platinum card prior to the benefit changes, we get a 50% rebate when booking economy flights with your preferred airline (Delta in my case) or when booking Business/First Class flights with any airline.

Greg The Frequent Miler posted about booking avoiding Basic Economy fares back in January and noted the limitations in avoiding Basic Economy within the Amex online travel portal. And while those online limitations still remain today, there is a method to avoid Basic Economy and still utilize the Amex Pay with Points feature!

How to Avoid Delta Basic Economy via Amex Pay with Points

If your initial Amex Travel Portal results in the following Basic Economy result above, just follow these 3 easy steps and get yourself out of that restrictive fare and into the economy fare you know and love!

Step 1: Search for your desired airfare via Delta website


The Delta website makes it easy to identify and avoid Basic Economy (E-fare class). Select your flight and be sure to select the Main Cabin fare, noting the specific Main Cabin fare class (V-fare class and T-fare class in the example below).

You will need the specific fare classes in order to feed them to the American Express telephone agent in Step 2!

Step 2: Call the Business Platinum Travel Service at 1-800-553-9497

Once connected with an agent, explain that you would like to book through Amex Travel using the Pay with Points option, but that the online portal is only displaying Basic Economy E-fare class. The agent should be able to pull up your desired itinerary and manually adjust the fare class – and this is where your research in Step 1 comes into play! Provide the agent the specific fare classes and book!

Note – Don’t allow the agent to transfer you to the online support team, they cannot assist you!

Step 3: Request a Booking Fee Waiver

American Express typically charges a $39 per ticket fee when booking through the call-in service. You should NOT pay this! If the agent attempts to charge this fee, kindly explain to the agent that your desired itinerary could not be booked online, and therefore no fee should apply.

Final Thought

Who has 2 thumbs and is not a fan of Delta Basic Economy? THIS GUY!

Photo cred – http://aero-shots.boardingarea.com/

And while you may not be able to avoid Delta Basic Economy when booking through the Amex online travel portal, you CAN avoid those restrictive fares by dialing up American Express Travel Services and requesting to be booked into a Main Cabin fare! And the best part – you can utilize the Pay with Points option and potentially receive a 50% points rebate (certain Amex Business Platinum cardholders only)!

What has been your experience with American Express membership rewards and Delta Basic Economy? Have you had success in avoiding these restrictive fares!?

Happy Travels!


  • henry LAX
    Posted at 10:15h, 06 July Reply

    i’d like to a make suggestion that’s unrelated to this article – your customized javascript appears to significantly speed up the scroll up/down speed when using the mouse wheel, and makes the browsing experience slightly unpleasant because i need to resort to using the keyboard to actually scroll properly.

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