Delta upselling: Are they really trying to shame passengers?

One of my favorite activities as a mileage blogger is criticizing Delta because, from a consumer standpoint, they do so much that deserves to be criticized. Granted, not only do they have the right but they also, in fact, have the obligation to make money for their shareholders, so I understand why they raise fees and manipulate the frequent flyer program. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Still, the criticism isn’t always fair (except when I write it, of course). Such is the case with their basic economy product. Basic Economy is their no-frills, all-fees-all-the-time, low-end economy product. It is only offered on certain routes, many of which compete with ultra-low cost carriers, and is as simple as it comes. In exchange for paying a lower ticket price, you agree to give up seat assignments, refunds, overhead space (since you are the last to board) and your rights under the¬†Sixth, Eighth and Ninth Amendments.* In other words, it becomes Spirit Airlines, with a red triangle on the tail. For example, here’s a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 5.31.20 PM

You can’t book one of these fares by accident. In fact, Delta goes out of its way to make sure of that. The fares are listed in a separate column and you’ll get a big pop-up right before you complete the transaction, indicating that you are buying one of these special fares. Sounds great, right? Finally, an airline is up-front about all the fees you’ll have to pay. Here’s what you see after you choose the above flight:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 5.31.45 PM

Except it isn’t great, according to some. Paul Hudson, from, has accused the airline of using that pop-up to pressure you into paying a higher fare to avoid losing the above benefits. So now I’m confused: If Delta doesn’t provide passengers with enough information, they are in the wrong (see Section 1 here from, but if they do provide the info in a manner in which you can’t miss it, they are still at fault?



*Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. You don’t give up your Ninth Amendment rights.

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