Why it really is SWEET news that Delta & Alaska are ending “partnership” next year!

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AS can be open about this now 😉

Yesterday I blogged about the impending split between Delta and Alaska. Before I go further today, let me get a few things out of the way before there is a flood of negative comments below. You need to read the entire post to see why I think, long term, this really is sweet news for most of us that are those who fly Delta and Delta metal 99% of the time.

First off I understand that for those who are mostly Delta loyal but fill in many routes and gaps with Alaska flights that are non-stop, or less served areas, you are not winning from this change on the way – no way to sugar coat this.

The same goes for those who have been crediting redeemable miles to Alaska as they have a valuable award currency with Mileage Plan vs. the utterly dead Delta SkyMiles. I get that too and there is no way around this pain. No one in their right mind should care about actively collecting SkyMiles anymore unless they are getting them for free or nearly free.

Well, none of this so far is selling anyone on why this is sweet news. Let me try to explain.

I rarely ever fly on Alaska aircraft. Sure I enjoyed one to EAT, as did many folks, again and again, and again. I have enjoyed Alaska Lounges, but as of late, they have been cut out of the “partnership,” so I had to use Priority Pass to get in. The point is for many of us the value of Alaska has been focused on the points program and not flying the airline. The good news is partners like KLM are, for now, not going away like SkyMiles is at the end of April. Getting a personal and business Alaska BofA card every 91+ days of my life will not change with this split. 😉

Again, but where is the good news for us you ask? You need to look long term as a Delta flyer.

Let’s take an overall look at how nasty Delta has been in cutting perks. Did you see that list in THIS post? It is depressing, and the other thing is United has taken just about all of them and made them just one step worse. American resisted for a while and now is chasing Delta and United down the same deep dark hole. With little competition, they have not seen the need to make positive changes. I think they will regret this one day, but for now, that is the state of the “big 3”.

Now we have the larger Alaska with the merger with Virgin America. Alaska, despite all the others going away from distanced based frequent flyer award miles, has stuck with the old way of doing things and flyers like it. I think that will continue in the future to make them stand out against the big 3. That is great news as it will, as an even larger player on the stage, at last, put pressure on the others to consider the choices they make and have made.

Next, we have seats and service. Alaska is rolling out their version of C+ seats but is smart enough to NOT “upgrade” you to a center seat if you are flying alone. Hello – duh! And yet Delta still will auto-upgrade an elite to a center seat. Pressure from Alaska, doing a C+ upgrade right, will push Delta to fix their error. Sweet right? There is more and it works both ways.

Delta, inspired by Virgin Atlantic clubs, has built what they feel is a “destination” club in Seattle. Now if all the food, top shelf drinks, and some spa services that are included in entrance fee like the Virgin lounges I would agree – but Delta charges for these and even shamefully asks you to flush your SkyMiles paying for things that should be free. Still, it is a fantastic club. But when I want a free glass of champagne I walk right around the corner to the Centurion Studio that is now expanding after the Delta club expansion turned their view into a wall (ouch). My point here is that Alaska will have to improve their clubs now and this could mean better complimentary choices and more. If they do that – how will Delta answer back to keep up? I love a “club race” as we benefit as they fight it out.

We could do this all day long, but the point is we, as flyers, will benefit as they go toe to toe. From attack fares to bonus points for doing this or that to better clubs and so much more. This will impact not just the local Seattle market we are going to see this battle spread system-wide for years to come. I love it!

Lastly, as someone who wakes up each day in fear of what Delta has cut next, this could be a tiny stop gap to prevent some of the dastardly things they have dreamed up that we could see next. As I say, long term, this is really sweet for those of us who fly Delta each week! – René



  1. As a 100% Delta metal flyer(think small airport, east coast) anything that might make even the smallest dent in their arrogance is fine.

  2. Competition is great. Alaska might be the only airline in the Western states that can compete against Delta and offer–in some cases–a superior choice for the customer.

    The problem is for much of the country Alaska isn’t a viable choice. Who is going to fly from Detroit to Washington via Seattle?

  3. As a west coast flyer, this is the end for me. Just sent in my Gold status match to Alaska and look forward to burning the rest of my sky miles this year. Also look forward to getting to know AA better as they’ll be my key non Alaska/Virgin airline going forward. GOODBYE DELTA!!!

  4. Will the new AS dare enter a turf war with Delta in ATL on at least a few routes, maybe LAX or LAS? Two flights a day to SEA creates few options here outside of Delta and Southwest at times (if you aren’t an elite). One can dream.

  5. I’d love it if Alaska could find a way to expand significantly on the East Coast. It seems to be an airline that doesn’t just pay lip service to the concept of loyalty.

  6. @rene I agree with Tad here — I think you have an error in that line — Skymiles is not going away at the end of April.

  7. @Bill – You will no longer be able to spend SkyMiles on Alaska awards and VV. Check the link:
    Award travel on Delta

    Customers may continue to book awards through April 30, 2017.

    All currently booked award travel on Delta Air Lines will be honored, but changes will not be allowed on or after May 1, 2017.

  8. I couldn’t be happier. With the impending divorce the competition for Seattle market share will likely mean that Delta will continue to offer flights from Orlando to San Diego via SEA. Yea baby! Crank up those MQMs!!!

  9. @rene
    “@Bill – You will no longer be able to spend SkyMiles on Alaska awards and VV. Check the link:”

    Yes, we know that. It was the way it was phrased in your post that seemed confusing to some (myself included), i.e. implying more than is warranted. No worries, I’ve disagreed on phrasing before but we eventually understand. It is YOUR choice how to phrase things on your own blog after all and I’ve gotta respect that!

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