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