Delta Free Upgrade on Basic Economy Ticket

This article applies for US domestic flights. I doubt Delta will upgrade you on HKG – SEA, nor do they sell basic economy tickets on international tickets, that I know of.

Want to know how I got a free upgrade to Delta Comfort+ on a basic economy ticket by diong nothing? Read on.

I booked a flight from ORD – JFK in basic economy. I have a Delta AMEX credit card, so I still get Zone 1 boarding and free checked bag. With that card basic economy is fine on Delta. Only real drawbacks is no changes and upgrades.

With Basic Economy, you will not receive a seat assignment until after check-in or at the gate. Passengers traveling together, including families, may not be seated together. You will not be eligible for same-day changes or ticket refunds after the Risk Free Cancellation Period. You will board in the last zone and not be eligible for paid or complimentary upgrades or preferred seats, even with Medallion® Status.

Well, the statement on Delta’s website isn’t 100% correct. True you will not receive a seat assignment. Therefore, if the flight is full, usually only Delta Comfort+ seats will be leftover since everyone with no status will select seats in the back of the plane, including all of the middle seats.

Therefore, when it I got my seat, at the gate, the only seats left where Delta Comfort+, so I got a free upgrade along with priority boarding. Cha-ching. (I was able to see on the app that I was upgraded to Comfort+ and Sky zone boarding.

In theory Delta should’ve upgraded a higher fare class economy passenger to Delta Comfort+ and put me in their regular economy seats. Obviously this is a lot of work moving people around after they’ve select their seats, so it’s easier to give the basic economy passengers whatever seats are left.

This won’t work on every flight, since every flight won’t be sold out. But if you’re flying on a peak flight in the US it’s certainly possible. In general this applies for all fares, delay selecting a seat if possible and you’ll have a chance of getting upgraded (or a dreaded middle seat.) Wheel of fortune.

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  • I just flew from DTW to IAD on Delta with a basic economy ticket and got a free upgrade to comfort plus. Upon checking in online and even checking again at the kiosk at the airport, a message read that my seat would be assigned at the gate. When I got to the gate, I was assigned a comfort plus seat as the flight was sold out.

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