The 2015 Alaska Air awards chart – IN YOUR FACE DELTA!

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Gosh I love Alaska airlines. I love it that they are doing such a “knock down drag out fight” with their “partner” (well sorta partner anyway) Delta Air Lines. Delta clearly is doing everything they can to expand Seattle as a major hub as quickly as possible, offering those who live there elite status via double elite miles and so much more!

Airlines are truly in a world of their own right now. We see United, who seems to think their customers are their major problem, and Delta who seems to think about cutting every elite benefit possible and treating everyone but those who spend the most amout of money with the airline as second-class citizens is the best way to earn your loyalty!

dos clock 26nov

I have often blogged about how crushing SkyMiles 2015 will be next year for the bulk of flyers. Delta has taken the stand that the only way to offer a few more low level seats is to greatly reduce the amount of SkyMiles in circulation. This may be a winning scenario on paper for bean counters, but I’m not sure how an unrewarding rewards program is a way to entice flyers to pick your airline.

Now today we have the announcement from Alaska that rather than awarding less miles next year, and going revenue based like DL & UA, they are staying distance-based and awarding the same or even MORE miles to flyers next year. How is that as an “in your face” directly at Delta, their partner (who will get less miles depending on fare class).

Interestingly, Alaska also partners with American Airlines that also has decided not to go revenue based for 2015. So we have United, one of the worst airlines in the USA that has simply carbon copied everything Delta has done with their program (and worse), and Delta who is trying the grand experiment to un-reward most customers for flying their airline next year.

Those of us who are points enthusiasts are really going to have some interesting choices next year. Where we decide to buy our tickets and who we decide to fly (i.e. think CODE SHARE a bunch) and if we shift away from one airline to another airline or even one type of reward card to another reward card that more closely aligns with our travel goals. I find all this so fascinating because for years, with the current Delta program, it was a simple choice and many people, as I talked about this morning, just poured all their eggs into one “points” basket, that is they saved everything toward Delta as far as rewards, flights, credit cards, you name it, was all Delta because there was value in SkyMiles. Next year it is not at all as clear cut a choice and the declining value of Skymiles with the end of stopovers and more. Plus, all those who were hoping to just fly Delta and credit to Alaska are not going to be able to eke by under the new award chart from Alaska.

This also touches on what I spoke about this past Sunday. I am never trying to alienate any readers ever but there are many who do overspend for Delta tickets, both now, and will next year. This may be necessary due to their travels or being required to buy last minute tickets plus all the other airlines may have equally inflated prices for these last minute tickets. This does not change the fact that overpriced tickets are overpriced tickets. It is nice that Delta is rewarding you for overpaying, but you are still overpaying compared to many others flying with you on the same jet. The most important point of the story is if Delta keeps cutting the perks and benefits and value of SkyMiles even those overpaying and getting boatloads of SkyMiles will see lower rewards for all of us.

Once again, I love you, Alaska. The company is making lots of money (even lots for investors). It is a well run airline. They are PROVING you can make money and still be a distance based airline rewards program and you cannot say it is just because they are small because American is doing it too. I also still just love the fact that I can apply every few months over and over and over for AS BofA travel cards and get free points to fly AS or DL or even AA. Good times!

If you are still reading all this – what do you think? Happy? Sad? Indifferent? Let me know! – René
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25 comments

  1. Delta is seeking to reward the most valuable customers…those who pay a lot. Why can’t you comprehend this?

    The pax flying on a $250 T fill seats, but don’t generate much in revenue – and if they travel regularly, they’re beholden to their company’s travel policy, and don’t have much of a decision in who they fly. Smart move, DL.

    Looking back at the author….How come you don’t blast every hotel program…nearly all of which are revenue based?

  2. This is great. Now Alaska just needs a hub in NYC. ;-). But in seriousness, I’ve lost interest in pursuing status with DL. I’m sure i will fly with them again but looking to get more active with AA. And note to Delta reps reading this that my company has a preference that I book with AA for biz travel but I have been successful redirecting to Delta for status purposes but that will not continue

  3. @Billy – explain to me exactly how DECIMATING the program is rewarding those who overpay? Hotels are not an airline btw. I do not compare my local grocery store rewards program to Delta either. The best thing is to compare one airline to another as I did in the post. I guess AA & AS just don’t get it? 😉

  4. So does this mean I should just fly Delta and credit to Alaska, provided I’m at an upper-level economy fare class?

  5. Doesn’t you crediting your flights to AS work in Delta’s favor? All of the revenue from your ticket and non of the liability for outstanding miles/higher statu which is firmly on the shoulders of Alaska.

  6. I did a status match to AS MVP Gold last year and never looked back. I burned all my DL miles. Best decision ever made. Now that AS is bringing non stop flights to OKC next summer, is even more amazing. I was able to use the miles for EK business from DXB and DFW. They definitely have my business 🙂

  7. Hmmm. Looks like H and below get hit w/ less miles as well (that’s the std range for default corp traveler) – not sure where the big increase is?

    I’m pretty sure that MQD’s are just the beginning as well: next step is even more MQD and MQM/MQS disappear – for a complete revenue based system

    Thoughts?

  8. @Billy
    Creating a massive disincentive for the vast majority of your customers is neither smart nor conducive to retaining any sort of loyalty from those selfsame customers. Messing over the many while keeping things the same or slightly better for the very few is a debatable business practice. If Delta wants to add rewards for heavier spending, without burning everyone else, kudos, but that’s not what they’re doing. As someone who gets the vast majority of his skymiles from business expenditure (6 figures a year), I’m sick of things getting worse on an ongoing basis. Delta has proven it can’t be trusted, so I’ve already started the migration to AA.

  9. Well, I’ve been thinking of switching. I know Alaska will match to top-level (I hit Diamond any day now). I understand American is quietly doing the same, too. Plus, I’ve heard about pathetically easy U.S. Airways status-challenges as well.

    I fly to Washington–Reagan, a lot. Alaska now flies out of Detroit. I figured I could easily book Detroit-Seattle-Washington. That isn’t the case. Alaska won’t let me, so I have to do it as a multi-city trip. When I did that, it’s ridiculously expensive. I don’t mind an extra half-day, or even a full day, going way out of the way because it would be a crap-tone extra miles. Still, the price is absurd. Especially when compared with a poor hard product first-class on Alaska. American is looking more attractive, especially since American has many international first-class (real first-class!) partners for redemption.

  10. If one has to buy a last minute ticket and all airlines are charging a high fare then one is not “overpaying”.

  11. To quote a bearded reality TV personality, “happy, happy, happy.” Status matched to to Gold MVP 75k about 6 weeks ago, and have enjoyed every moment since. The marketing people behind their program know what they’re doing, because with each passing day I’m feeling more loyalty to AS!

  12. @billy both Delta and United need the customers that pay $50-75 more to fly them over the competition. Those that over spend etc will continue to do it and yes the create most of the revenue, but if these 2 airlines now have to compete on price with LCCs because the regular passenger sees no value in earning miles anymore then they are going to have a problem. They count on being able to charge more for their base tickets and if they lose that competitive advantage we will see how well they do.

    Secondly, I have a friend that buys C/F tickets and at first he felt like AA was going to lose high value customers that want the miles, but then he thought about it and said if he can pay for C/F went does he care what he is going to earn. He wants to but the best seat and most convenient time to fly and could give an F about the miles for crappy US service.

  13. As the McDonalds commercial says “I’m lovin’ it”, Alaska is the best airline because they know that their loyal customers kept them going in the bad time while the “big boys” all filed for bankruptcy. So big bad Delta is trying to move in on Washington and Alaska. Let them with they devalued mileage program. Delta wants to match Alaska route for route. What does Alaska do? They counter back with:
    1 – keep expanding into Delta’s territory with more service out of SLC and new flights to OKC, DTW, BWI, MKE and MSY.
    2 – have the best mileage plan period. Just ask JD Powers who won. Now they have got DL by the neck with their new earning chart.
    So here is what I’m going to do. I am going to book an international trip on DL in “A”. This trip will be 8500 miles round trip. The new chart effective January 1 says I will get 14386 AS EQM.
    I’m glad I live in the northwest and AS is my exclusive airline.
    I feel sorry of all of you DL medallions that will get downgraded in 2016.

  14. For those that can switch to Alaska, seems like a no brainer. Very well airline and a good reward system that many of you like.

    As far as Delta moving to the NW who is the winners. The flyers. Fares are coming down dramitically in particular those in Alaska who are loving it.

    For those changing to AA, that does not make a lot of sense. Compared to Delta and Alaska they cancel over double more flights and are significantly late more often. It is not even close. And unless it backfires on Delta, AA is planning on going to a system like Delta but you would get 1-2 more years of good miles if you come out ahead.

    Sorry Renee, you are dead wrong about us overpaying. We don’t overpay, we pay the going rate at the time we book our tickets. Would I love to get lower fares yes, but it is not possible. I wish it was.

    Finally I get this does hurt you, many MR’s and leisure travelers but 90% of Delta Diamond Business Flyers are going to come out ahead.

    There are many thinks I don’t like about all the changes but until American (my only other choice) can improve thier cancellation rates, thier on time performance and thier customer service I will continue to fly with Delta 90% of the time.

    Lastest example I sent a email to Delta this morning and 10 minutes later a agent called me up and resolved the issue.

    Until AA steps up or Delta truely depends on service and PEFORMANCE, I will continue to fly them as I like getting home to my family on time!

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