Delta grounds SkyMiles for basic economy tickets

After being grounded for nearly two years because of the pandemic, many travelers are ready to fly the friendly skies once again.

But the cheapest tickets on Minnesota's hometown airline are losing a popular perk.

"That's unfortunate. I think it's nice whatever level ticket you buy allows you the opportunity to get some points for the next trip," said Delta Airlines passenger Ruth Sorenson.

Delta Airlines' basic economy tickets will no longer earn SkyMiles that passengers can redeem for free future flights or to upgrade their seats.

Experts believe the airline is trying to boost its bottom line by encouraging passengers to buy main cabin tickets that have fewer restrictions but can cost anywhere from $70 to $150 more for domestic flights.

"We here in Minneapolis, we know and love Delta, but this is a really tough one to swallow," said Kyle Potter of Thrifty Traveler.

Potter says the timing of the move could be bad for Delta's image given that the airline made record profits in 2019 and received a 5 billion dollar bailout from the federal government to survive the pandemic.

But he believes Delta figures it has a captive audience with so many Americans interested in flying again.

"These frequent flier programs like Delta SkyMiles have been a part of our travel lives for decades. Just the concept that you are paying for a flight but you aren't going to earn miles just rubs people the wrong way," said Potter.

Travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport believe the move is just business.

"I know COVID has hurt them quite a bit, and they probably need the revenue. It's fair probably in that regard," said Delta passenger Craig Otterness.

But they hope the other airlines don't follow suit.

"It's nice to get those SkyMiles and this flight we flew basic, and it's nice that we are going to get SkyMiles, and it's a disappointment that we won't anymore," said Delta passenger Jennifer Ness.