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It’s Over: Delta and Alaska Airlines to End Partnership in May 2017

Delta (DL)  and Alaska Airlines (AS) have had an interesting relationship, it’s had ups and downs, that’s for sure. Currently, DL and AS have codeshare agreements, but the two airlines have been experiencing some growing pains as Delta has expanded their presence in Alaska Airlines’ hometown of Seattle – meaning more Delta flights, and less reliance on the codeshare agreement. Meanwhile, in early November, Virgin America (VX) (Alaska’s newly acquired airline) and Virgin Atlantic called it quits with their partnership – meaning the end of mileage accrual and redemption for frequent flyers on both sides. Not a huge surprise, given the then-impending merger.

 

The Scoop

Well, when it rains it pours when it comes to the Alaska Airlines and Virgin America merger – today Delta announced the end of their partnership, which will take effect May 1, 2017. 

Delta and Alaska have both updated their websites to reflect the change in policy, and while their charts differ slightly, the core takeaways include:

  • For tickets purchased on December 18, 2016 or before, flights are eligible fore mileage accrual on both DL and AS (Flights booked today are generally available through November 2017)
  • For tickets booked through April 30, 2017, and flown by April 30, 2017, flights are eligible for mileage accrual on both DL and AS
  • For tickets booked December 19, 2016 or later and flown May 1, 2017 or later, no mileage accrual on either airline
  • Delta will honor award tickets for Alaska Airlines flights booked by April 30, 2017 for May  1, 2017 and beyond.

What they’re keeping (well, for now at least) is and interline agreement, which will allow continued offering of  customer ticketing and baggage connectivity.

For reference – Alaska’s mileage policy for Delta-flown flights

Credit: Alaska Airlines

And Delta’s policy for Alaska Airlines-flown flights.

Credit: Delta Airlines

 

The Takeaway

I’m certainly not surprised to see this happen. Delta has been trying to grow pretty aggressively out of Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and has made no secret that they’re looking to springboard their Trans-Pacific flights out of Sea-Tac. While it’s not clear who broke up with who, this breakup has been a long time coming. Given that Virgin Atlantic (of which Delta owns a 49% stake in) dropped their partnership with VX, it sounds like Delta is looking to make a clean break from Alaska and co.

Is this a terrible idea? Given Virgin America’s transcontinental coverage of major east and west coast cities, plus Delta’s continued growth out of SEA, I can see why it doesn’t make much business sense to continue the partnership. Alaska Airlines will have some pretty solid coverage of the country with the newly expanded routes.

The combined network of Virgin America and Alaska Airlines added with their strong brand loyalty amongst their respective passenger bases paints an optimistic picture for the future. The airlines together can work.

As an east coast-based Delta traveler, this change doesn’t impact me (in almost any way), though a decrease in flight options is never something I favor.

While I’ve flown VX and AS in the past, I haven’t flown them too much in the last few years, partially due to moving for the east coast (AS) and the lack of flatbed seats on transcontinental flights (VX).

Of course, I’m curious to see what kind of upgrades we’ll be seeing on AS/VX planes, if any. Currently, both airlines only offer recliner seats in First Class – would love to see an upgrade to seats on trans-con flights(!)

 

 

Does this break in partnership affect your flight plans? Which side of the Delta/Alaska break do you fall on? 

 

Appendix – since these won’t be around for much longer – some snaps of Delta’s and Alaska’s accrual charts when flying the other:

Delta’s accrual chart for Alaska Airlines flights

Alaska’s accrual chart for Delta Airlines flights

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