As I talked about before, I want Sundays to be a chance to share some thoughts and experiences from readers about Delta travel. A few weeks back we had Chris share his mileage run to Sweden. This week I want to introduce you to reader Dean. He is a blog reader and shared with me after my post about Delta loyalty that he has picked Alaska Air over Delta Air Lines. I would love to know what they are doing right that Delta is either not doing right or is doing wrong. So let’s see what Dean has to say from his point of view:
Thanks, Rene! I’ve enjoyed being one of your Delta Points readers for a long time. First, there are a couple of things I’d like to point out – Alaska Airlines serves more than the State of Alaska, but they are a regional carrier and don’t cover nearly the number of cities that Delta does. They fly to over half the states and Canada and Mexico, and since I live in their main hub of Seattle it works for me. Although they are not a part of Skyteam, they’ve created a decent partnership with airlines to work with that include American and Delta. If Alaska doesn’t fly somewhere, I can almost always get there via Delta.
Alaska flies an all 737 fleet, so that comes with pluses and minuses. All of their newer planes come with Recaro seats which take less space and are more comfortable. The overhead bins can hold more (Alaska doesn’t charge for carry on), and they have nice LED cabin lighting. You won’t get a full meal on any flights, but they do offer decent food at prices lower than the major airlines – if you fly on their sister airline Horizon, they offer complimentary wine and micro brew beer. Plus there is GoGo in-flight internet, which I have very mixed feelings about (I like being connected, but it’s very glitchy for a high price).
One of the things I like about Alaska is their innovative use of technology. Perhaps it comes from being in the land of Microsoft, but they were one of the first airlines to offer online bookings and have continued to improve on a great offering of options for online as well as phone services for their passengers. I can book award tickets online with many of their partners including Delta.
Alaska has also maintained their call centers in the US, which I find helps when I need help with tough problems. Their partner airline bookings department is also top notch – last year, they got me great award business class seats on Qantas to Australia and New Zealand by taking my request and checking availability daily on my behalf. The award program in general is competitive, and I’ve seldom had problems booking award tickets compared to Delta.
Change fees are a way of life, but Alaska has kept their fees lower than other airlines. There is no fee if you change flights outside of 60 days, and fees just increased to $125 for less than 60 days. For top tier (Gold) flyers, there is never a change fee and no charge for the first two bags checked.
Ultimately, what makes me feel like a valued customer at Alaska are the people. Whether reservation agents trying to get me out of LAX during this week’s shutdown, flight attendants who appear to like their jobs, or helpful club attendants, I get the feeling that my business is appreciated, and that they genuinely want to be working for Alaska.
Thanks Dean so much for your thoughts and sharing with us all and for your insight as an Alaska flyer. We all “get” only $$$ matter to Delta now unlike the way Alaska seems to make you feel valued. I think Delta could learn a thing or two from Alaska especially when it comes to working with rather than against their partners!
PS – Want to contribute to the blog – e-mail me what you want to share – René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.