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The Delta Seat Selection Guide

Carissa Rawson

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Table of Contents

How Delta seat selection works

Delta seat selection fee, ticket types and seat selection rules, delta air lines seats for elite members, delta plane seating chart, how to pick seats on delta, final thoughts on selecting a seat on delta air lines.

Booking a Delta Air Lines flight and wondering about Delta’s seat selection? It’s no wonder — with differing benefits for elite members and strict restrictions on basic economy tickets, figuring out how and when to choose your Delta seat can quickly become overwhelming.

Here's a look at Delta seat assignments, how Delta Air Lines’ seating system works and the costs of choosing a seat.

» Learn more: The best airline credit cards

Delta operates a variety of cabin classes on its aircraft, including economy, Premium Select, first class and Delta One seats.

Like most airlines, Delta will allow you to select your seat when booking, though the cost to do so and any upcharges will vary depending on the flight you’re taking. Those flying with families and wondering “does Delta seat families together?” are in luck. Delta does its best to seat families together, even after check-in.

» Learn more: Delta vs. United, which is best for you?

According to an analysis of airline fees by NerdWallet, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines charge the least for seat selection, while budget airlines Frontier and Spirit charge the most.

Delta sits in the middle, charging an average of $15-plus for each flight that you'd like to select a seat for. The cost will vary depending on the type of ticket you book with the airline — which we'll discuss next.

» Learn more: How to navigate costly airline seat selection fees

How much is seat selection on Delta Air Lines? That will depend on the ticket type you’re purchasing, be it basic economy, main cabin, Premium Select (premium economy), first class or Delta One.

Basic economy

Basic economy tickets have the most restrictions of any Delta ticket, and this extends to seat selection. Those who book basic economy tickets won't be able to select seats; instead, a seat will be randomly assigned to each passenger after check-in. This includes families and groups who are traveling together — expect to be split up when booking a basic economy ticket.

If you reserve a basic economy ticket, it’s possible to purchase a specific seat starting seven days before departure. Pricing for this varies by trip and is priced by segment.

Main cabin seating, also known as regular economy, includes complimentary seat selection. As a main cabin customer, you also have the option to purchase an upgrade to preferred or Delta Comfort Plus seats while remaining an economy class passenger.

You can also book upgraded economy tickets with additional seat selection perks:

Main Cabin Preferred: Main Cabin Preferred seats are functionally the same as regular main cabin seats. The difference lies in the seat location; Main Cabin Preferred seats are typically window and aisle seats nearer to the front of the plane, plus exit rows. These are the least expensive upgrades from standard economy seating.

Comfort Plus: When available, a Delta Comfort Plus ticket can be purchased directly while booking and the price will include seat selection. The cost to upgrade is higher than for a preferred seat in main cabin. Comfort Plus features more legroom than main cabin and offers passengers dedicated overhead bins. In addition, Comfort Plus guests will receive complimentary beer and wine on all domestic and short-haul international flights.

Main cabin passengers can also choose to upgrade to a Comfort Plus seat either before or after purchasing their ticket.

Premium Select

Premium Select is Delta’s version of premium economy, with larger seats and better recline, two free checked bags, earlier boarding and premium extras. Those who book Premium Select can choose any seat within the cabin for no additional fee.

Delta One and first class

Both first class and Delta One ticket holders can choose any seat within their cabin for free. These spacious seats come with two free checked bags, premium snacks and meals, priority boarding, and a dedicated flight attendant.

Those who have joined the Delta SkyMiles program and flown enough to earn Medallion elite status will receive seating benefits on their flights.

Main Cabin Preferred

When booking main cabin tickets, all four tiers of elite status members can select main cabin preferred seats for no additional charge.

» Learn more: The NerdWallet guide to earning Delta SkyMiles

Comfort Plus

Platinum and Diamond level elite members (the two highest tiers) can choose Comfort Plus seats shortly after ticketing for free. Mid-tier Gold members, meanwhile, will be able to select these seats starting 72 hours prior to departure, and low-level Silver members can pick from available Comfort Plus seats starting 24 hours before departure.

Delta elite members will also receive upgrades on select first class and Delta One flights depending on their elite status.

You can find Delta Air Lines seating without needing to book a flight. To do so, you’ll want to first search for your preferred route on Delta’s website. On the search results page, you’ll find a variety of flights from which to choose.

Each flight presents a seat map, which you can preview by selecting "Seats."

delta seat selection free

Once you’ve picked "Seats," you’ll be taken to a new page that shows a live preview of your aircraft’s seats.

delta seat selection free

You’ll also be able to view the seat map during the booking process. Once you’ve selected your flight, you’ll be taken to another page prompting you to pick a seat.

delta seat selection free

How do I choose my seat on Delta?

During booking

The process for reserving a Delta seat is fairly simple. As we mentioned above, you’ll be able to pick seats when booking your flights on the website; Delta will automatically prompt you to do so before checkout.

You may not be able to select seats on codeshare flights, which are operated by Delta’s partners . In this case, you’ll want to go directly to the other airlines’ webpage to manage your seat selection.

After booking

If you need to choose or alter your seat after you’ve booked your flight, go to "My Trips" on the Delta homepage.

delta seat selection free

If you’re logged in already, you’ll be able to view all the trips you have booked with Delta. You’ll find seat selection options by going down to the "Passenger Information" section.

» Learn more: 6 ways to save on Delta flights

Delta has a variety of ticketing options available for every type of passenger. This includes the highly restrictive basic economy class ticket as well as main cabin tickets for those who prefer certainty with their seats.

Upgrading to Main Cabin Preferred and Comfort Plus seats offers better benefits for those in economy. Loyal members of Delta’s SkyMiles program can also expect to receive complimentary access to these seats and upgrades to higher classes depending on their level of status.

Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:

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Airbus A350-900

delta seat selection free

In-page Links

Seat Specifications

Amenities key.

 Airbus A350-900 4-Cabin Seat Map

Aircraft Specifications

Cruising speed.

552 mph (888 km/h)

7,275 miles (11,708 km)

2 Turbofans (wing mounted)

210 ft 0 in (64 m)


57 ft 0 in (17.4 m)

208 ft 10 in (63.7 m)

Accessibility Information

* Delta One: Movable armrests require the assistance of a Delta employee.

Our Aircraft

Airbus a220-100 (221) a220-300 (223) a319-100 (319) a320-200 (320) a321-200 (321) a321neo (3ne) a330-200 a330-300 a330-900neo (339) a350-900, boeing 717-200 (717) 737-800 (738) 737-900er (739) 757-200 757-300 (75y) 767-300er 767-400er, bombardier crj-200 crj-700 crj-900, embraer e-170 e-175.

Airbus A350-900 3-Cabin Seat Map

8,160 miles (13,132 km)

212 ft 5 in (64.8 m)

55 ft 3 in (16.8 m)

218 ft 7 in (66.6 m)

* Delta One: Aisle seats in this cabin have capabilities that provide enhanced accessibility for passengers, including movable armrests that lower with the seat.

delta seat selection free

Advertiser Disclosure

Delta Basic Economy Pick Seat

How You Can Still Pick a Seat with a Delta Basic Economy Fare

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Of the many things that make restrictive basic economy fares a bummer, the inability to pick a seat is the worst. It often leaves you stuck in a middle seat between strangers, rows away from your travel companion.

But if you're flying Delta, there are a few ways you can still pick your seat. You'll have to pay up with one method. And with some vigilance and luck, there's another way you can snag a better seat for free. 

Read on to learn how it's done. And if you want to take it to the next level, keep reading to learn how you can  beat Delta basic economy fares altogether and make it even better.  

The Basics of Delta Basic Economy

Option #1 to pick a seat: pay up, option #2: last chance at a free seat, other ways to beat delta basic economy fares.

Delta was the first of the major airlines to roll out no-frills basic economy fares way back in 2013.

And while these Delta basic economy fares come with some major restrictions – you ‘ll have to pay to cancel a flight for a Delta eCredit and you won't even earn any SkyMiles or credits toward Delta Medallion Status – Delta's spin on basic economy is still more generous than many of its competitors. The airline has always allowed a carry-on, while others like United Airlines and JetBlue don't.

Beat Delta Basic Economy

It's clear these no-frills fares aren't going anywhere. Delta has doubled down on them coming out of the pandemic, charging more than ever before to upgrade to a main cabin fare. Delta went where no other airline has gone by nixing the ability to earn redeemable SkyMiles or status with the airline when you buy a basic economy ticket.

But it's not all bad news … especially when there are two little-known ways you can still get a seat with Delta basic economy.

For years, Delta hasn't allowed basic economy flyers to pick a seat in advance. The airline's own policies and warnings make clear it's not possible.

But that's not exactly true. Delta generally allows basic economy passengers to pick a seat starting seven days before departure – for a fee.  A Delta spokeswoman confirmed that the airline rolled out this ability “partway through 2018.”

“Delta  does provide an option for  Basic   Economy customers to purchase a seat assignment because customers have told us that having a seat assignment further in advance than 24 hours from departure is important to them,” a spokeswoman previously told us.

The fees for picking a seat with a basic economy ticket vary by route – seemingly from as low as $10 to $45 or more per flight. And you have to purchase a seat assignment separately for each leg of a trip. The norm for years was $29 per seat, whether you pick an aisle, window, or middle seat. But lately, we've seen much cheaper seats available for purchase.  

delta basic economy pick seat

But that's not always the case. Sometimes it's a lot more – like this flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Las Vegas (LAS).  

seat assignment price

Once the seat selection window opens starting seven days before your flight, log in to your Delta account and check on your flight. You'll be able to hit the “Select Seat” – a function that's typically grayed out for basic economy passengers. Or just pull up the flight on your Delta app and hit “Purchase Seat.”  

delta basic economy pick seat

Just keep in mind the selection may be somewhat limited, and the price per seat may vary. Here was what was available for an older flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to New York-LaGuardia (LGA) about four days before takeoff.  

Delta Basic Economy Pick Seat

In this case, the seats are almost entirely at the back half of the plane. On the bright side, there were plenty of window and aisle seats available. And no matter which you chose in this case, it would cost $29.00.

But if Delta is charging $30 a seat, that's not a good deal. Consider this: Delta typically charges about $70 to $80 more for a main cabin round-trip fare , allowing you to pick your seats for free. So you may be able to get a seat assignment on each leg of the trip for the same price, plus the other benefits that main cabin fares have over basic economy like earning SkyMiles and free change and cancellation.

Still, if you want to make sure you're sitting next to your companion, it's worth considering. And if you're willing to roll the dice, there may be a way to do it for free.

Airlines have conditioned us to expect next to nothing for a basic economy fare. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Depending on how many seats are still open on the plane after check-in opens 24 hours before take-off (or 48 hours on international flights), you’ve got a window to make a choice for free.

Once check-in opens, basic economy flyers on Delta have a chance to pick the best of what seats are left. Just how many seats are left will vary wildly by route, time of day, time of year, and other factors. And these days, many flights are completely full which means you may not have the ability to pick, period.

If you're lucky, you might have a nearly empty cabin to choose from. Other times, the entire cabin may be booked and you'll be left to get a seat assignment at the gate. It just depends.

But if you want to avoid a middle seat or get seats together, you have to watch the seating chart like a hawk. Check the seating chart on the site or via app every hour or so for the few hours after the check-in window opens, starting 24 hours before a domestic flight is scheduled to depart. And check again the morning before your flight. And then again. As other passengers move around the cabin or change their flights, better seats may open up.

On a flight a few years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Las Vegas (LAS), there were just a few dreaded middle seats open when online check-in opened 24 hours in advance. But after checking the seat map religiously for the next few hours, it happened: There was an open aisle seat.  

delta basic economy pick seat

So I chose it immediately. And, as luck would have it, there was another seat just across the aisle for my friend. It couldn’t have worked out better.

This is the best-case scenario – it won't always go so smoothly, especially if your flight is full. But it can pay off huge to watch closely and snag a seat.

These options to pick a seat are phenomenal. They can solve one of the biggest sources of frustration behind basic economy fares. But you can take it even further and take even more of the pain out of basic economy.

Delta’s co-branded American Express can be a powerful weapon to beat basic economy fares. There are several options in the suite of SkyMiles credit cards, so read up on  which one is right for you . But no matter which one you hold,  it will get you a free checked bag on every Delta flight – along with up to eight others traveling on your reservation. The one exception is the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, which won’t get you free bags (terms apply) .

That means you won’t have to pay  $30 each way for a bag . And Delta doesn’t even require you to charge your flight to your Delta card to get this perk. It’s attached to your SkyMiles number, so you’ll always get it so long as you keep your card open.

And while you can always bring a carry-on bag , Delta basic economy can still be difficult because you board last – the overhead bins may fill up before you get on the plane. Carrying a Delta credit card helps here, too. Delta’s co-branded credit cards also get you priority boarding. By holding one of these cards,  you’ll always board in the fifth zone  even when flying basic economy.  

delta basic economy boarding order

As an example, let’s consider the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card . Like almost every Delta credit card, it gets you a free checked bag plus priority boarding. And it comes with an introductory annual fee of $0, and then just $99 a year after that (see rates & fees ).

Do the math, and you'll see that you can come out way ahead in your first year with the card on baggage savings alone. And once that fee kicks in, the savings on checked baggage start after just two round-trip flights each year.  

delta gold card

Click Here  to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card. 

Bottom Line

You can never count on getting a choice seat when flying basic economy. With a basic economy fare, you get the best of what’s left. And sometimes, a middle seat far away from your companion is all there is.

But if you're willing to pay up, you can get a better seat. And with some vigilance and luck, you can beat Delta's basic economy game for free.

Lead photo courtesy of Delta News Hub via Flickr

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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45 Responses

Def. appreciate this one, thanks! I had no idea that you could choose a seat online with Basic Econ after you check in for a Delta flight.

I haven’t flown on an airplane in over 20 year’s, what happened to military’s discounts, went to Las Vegas and back, also had to pay $30.00 each way for my luggage

I understand having to pay to ensure you can sit with your companion, but if I’m understanding this correctly, even if I fork out an extra 30$ to sit together, I will still be in zone 4 if I have basic economy, correct? (my concern is that they will make me check my carry-on and since I bought two separate tickets, I do not want to have to go to baggage claim to get my bags and go thru security to come back in for my next flight)

Booked a flight from ATL to JFK. 72 hours before flight bought a seat as i’m flying with my family and really not so much left to choose. And they make good money on selling those seats, damn should pay for baggage too, next time will consider different airlines to fly with.

Yeah, didn’t realize Delta would nickel and dime the seats like this—-next time, I’ll travel with another airline. They clearly see that I have a travel companion, they could have easily programmed us to sit together! This is beyond annoying!!!!

Good luck. All the major airlines are doing this.

Nope, not Finnair, not Icelandair, I’ve experienced! I thonk SAS and Norwegian are quite the same as the otner Nordic countries.

Ok, then go fly Finnair and Iceland air… lol. GL with that on any domestic flights outside of those two countries.

Actually quite a few airlines let you sit together. Southwest is all open cabin but it works great. Jet blue sells seat gor $11.00, united let’s you get seats and sas is a fojestic aitline, for norwsy lol

To avoid basic economy, I save up enough to buy a seat in the comfort class. Since I don’t have a credit card I signed up to join the sky miles. Still trying to build up my sky miles to earn a seat bin first class.

So, if I wait until check-in at the airport to get my seats and I have done the 24 hour pre-check to get my tickets, do I still have to pay for my seat(economy seating) assignment?

If you’ve done the 24-hour check-in from home, that’s when you’ll be able to start selecting any remaining seats for free.

Any remaining seat? Including 1st class or just any remaining seat in the basic economy section?

Only in economy.

Kinda lame click bait that you take an old post from 2019; slap an updated headline on it and post it as new with new date line. And on top of it link back to the almost duplicate original post within the new copy. I hope you are spending the time you save looking for deals for premium members.

Certainly not trying for clickbait, Dave. You’re right this is an older post, but the information is all up to date. And we always hear from travelers frustrated about basic economy, especially when it comes to seat selection. Plenty of readers may have missed this guide when we originally posted it last spring.

Safe to say we are always looking for more deals to Premium members.

That is not true. You are not able to upgrade and choose tickets after purchasing basic economy seats anymore. Thanks pal.

If that’s true, it’s a recent change. Even just two weeks ago, nearly all basic economy fares were still able to purchase a seat assignment starting 7 days before departure.

I fly to Atlanta to visit my daughter and family by myself. I am a 77-year-old grandma who the airline company always tends to put me between two strangers! Why? I’m flying Down in March and I will try to pick a seat after I check in online. I hope I can figure it out!

Delta needs to stop this bullshit period they too damg expensive already

Middle seats on delta are always left open now. Also, ask the gate agent if you can sit together. If there is room, they will do it.

Delta does this for one reason and one reason alone: ancillary fees collected by airlines are not taxed. Only the fare is taxed. So it’s 100% gravy for every person who pays for a seat assignment.

Oh yes they dress it up as offering “choice” but behind the curtains lurks a pure profit motive. It’s a business. No problem with that but call it what it is…a money grab.

I was wondering what the definition of close family friend means when reading the requirement recouerd to enter Austria My life companion lives in Austria and we are in a (LDR)My flight was canceled in april and I was hoping to be able to go this xmas getting up in age time is flying by any info would be so appreciated thankyou Gary

I swear I’m gonna start my own blog. Every time I read one, it seems quite clear that intelligence and writing skills aren’t really required.

This has to be one of the dumbest ones yet. You entitle the article “How You Can Still Pick A Seat With A Delta Basic Economy Fare” and your first “tip” is to PAY for the seat. Seriously? How stupid are you? Or are you writing crap and getting paid for clickbait?

As the article says, Delta explicitly warns that you cannot pick a seat, period, when buying a basic economy fare – whether free or paying for it. It’s worth pointing out that you can pay for a seat if it’s important to you, especially considering Delta has never publicly announced that it’s an option. And the second method is a clever trick to get a seat for free.

Best of luck with your blog.

Question for clarification. If you don’t have a seat assigned (pre-paid) the process is as follows? Check-in, get Delta random assigned seat, at that point you have the ability to change seats, do so before you print boarding pass. Correct?

Correct! You can typically move to any other remaining open seats from the time you check-in until boarding begins.

Any insight on how Delta would handle a group of three (2 adults and a 2.5 year old for a total of 3 seats) in basic economy during COVID times? Given the middle seat blocks, it’d make sense that they’d naturally group us together to maximize seating (effectively gaining a spot on the pane) but should I take the risk?

This is tough. You’re right that I think Delta would like to seat you all together to maximize available seating. But Delta would also like you to pay for the “privilege” of getting seated together. If you’re concerned about sitting together, I’d recommend just paying up for the main cabin fare so you can guarantee it.

My wife and I fly Delta Economy often, I try to book our seats at the same time, if for some reason that isn’t possible I then contact Delta and link our bookings. Once this is done gate agents have done everything possible to put is in seats next to each other and if not next to each other close. Unlike United which won’t allow any changes, even by a gate agent.

I have done the 24 hour/check in pick your seat for years. It’s a gamble, but on short flights not a big deal to me. I have a terrific chance of improving my seat including moving forward in the plane. If you really need to know your seat ahead of time, they are happy to take your money. I like the fun of checking 24 hrs prior. On March 15th, 2020 this paid off big time being “bumped” on British Air to first class from Heathrow to O’Hare. On check in I noticed open seats in front for no fee and did it. Our president had just announced closing of European airports and they filled the back of the 747 with stressed out Americans. I truly lucked out. Having a frequent flyer card is helpful in times like these or maybe just dumb luck. 🙂

Anybody at all know if it is possible to pay for an upgrade from Basic Economy to First Class seating, if the seating is available, at the gate or during check-in? I don’t know that I can weather a 4 hour flight from Detroit to Phoenix in Basic Economy.

I tried the tips here when flying Translatlantic just a couple of months prior to COVID hitting. No 7 day window to “buy” a seat. Seat assigned at BNA for BNA -DTW leg but had to get a seat assigned at DTW gate for leg to Europe. Interestingly, all the basic seat tickets had been printed out in advance, presumably by gate agents, and were sifted through to get the one that matched your passport. Hard to believe that Delta couldn’t assign me seats for all legs of the outward flight at check in at BNA.

There seem to be a few times where Delta doesn’t allow seat selection in advance, but those instances are few and far between.

Hi Kyle, I’m flying Iah-atl-ath soon. For the international flights, check in starts at 48 hours. Is that the atl-ath leg? I’ll have to check in twice? I also bought 2 separate tickets in BE for my bf and I. Trying to figure out the best and cheapest way to sit together

If you booked iah-atl-ath as one ticket, you should be able to check in for the entire itinerary at one time. You may be able to pay for seats starting a week before departure, but that’s not always the case with international BE fares.

I purchased 2 basic economy tickets for myself and my daughter we are traveling to ATL. She is 10 years old. Do you recommend me purchasing two seats or do I just do the 24 hour check in advance and they will assign us seats at the gate?Thank you

If you want to ensure you’re sitting next to your daughter, I’d recommend paying for seats. These days, most domestic flights are full which would make it much harder to move around the cabin and get seats together after check-in.

It should be first come, first serve. Period. Tickets are not cheap nowadays, and we aught to get our money’s worth. We expect some decency from those we do business with. Yes, those with status should have benefits, but if they want seats, they should act early enough. Those who book early should be at an advantage. Airlines should not hold seats for anyone who MAY decide to fly.

I want to schedule and pay for a window seat. How do I do that?

Option 1 is not really a choice, Delta doesn’t allow you to pay for seat selection under basic economy. I just flew them in December and that wasn’t an option. How long will you keep recycling this old article?

This isn’t true – I just paid for seats with a basic economy fare and the process was as described in this article. The website isn’t the most intuitive (and the seats were expensive!) but it’s definitely an option.

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    Consider this: Delta typically charges about $70 to $80 more for a main cabin round-trip fare, allowing you to pick your seats for free. So you may be able to get a seat assignment on each leg of the trip for the same price, plus the other benefits that main cabin fares have over basic economy like earning SkyMiles and free change and cancellation.