What you need to know about Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan enhancements and changes to the Delta Air Lines relationship

Today Alaska Airlines announced a few major changes to its Mileage Plan. First, the Seattle-based airline is upping the loyalty game by making its award-winning Mileage Plan more generous with the announcement of four flier-friendly enhancements. Second, its relationship with Delta Air Lines will end April 30, 2017.

So what does all this mean for travelers? Alaska Airlines’ Charles Breer, managing director of alliances, and Ryan Butz, managing director of loyalty marketing, have the answers. 

Tell us about the enhancements to Mileage Plan. What do these changes mean for Alaska Airlines customers?

Ryan Butz: At Alaska Airlines, we’re doubling down and remaining committed to our miles-based program. While many other airlines are heading in a different direction and simply looking at how much people spend, we’re focused on rewarding people across the board for how much they fly. That means:

  • We’ve lowered our lowest award tier so Mileage Plan members can now book award travel on Alaska Airlines flights using as few as 5,000 miles.
  • We’ve bumped up mileage earnings on flights in business or first class on 10 global partners by up to 80 percent.
  • Also, elite members now are eligible for complimentary upgrades on award travel on Alaska-operated flights when they book main cabin tickets.
  • Our recent combination with Virgin America means they now are added to the list of airlines where you can earn elite-qualifying Alaska Mileage Plan miles

For additional details about enhancements to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, visit alaskaair.com/gamechanger.

How can I locate these new, lower redemption Alaska Airlines flights?

Ryan Butz: Nothing has changed with how you book award travel on alaskaair.com. We’ve just lowered our award tier pricing so that you can book award travel using fewer miles on Alaska Airlines flights. As with flights purchased with cash, there are a limited number of seats available at each price or mileage point. If you search and don’t see a flight available at the lowest level, it simply means that those seats have already sold out for that route.

Here are some one-way flight examples to give you an idea.

 

distance based award chart What you need to know about Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan enhancements and changes to the Delta Air Lines relationship

Does that mean there will be fewer award seats available?

Ryan Butz: No, we’re committed to maintaining the same high levels of award availability.

Why is the relationship with Delta Air Lines ending?

Charles Breer: This should come as no surprise as our relationship has become increasingly competitive over the last few years. Given our own growth and expansion, Alaska Airlines now can take people virtually anywhere they need to go. We’ve grown tremendously and with the recent acquisition of Virgin America, we’re now the fifth largest airline in the U.S. We offer more nonstop West Coast departures than any other airline. And, along with our extensive global partner network, you can seamlessly travel to more than 900 destinations worldwide, including on American Airlines, which is the world’s largest airline.

Bottom line – if you live and work on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines is your airline.

What about Alaska Airlines partnerships with other SkyTeam Alliance members?

Charles Breer: It continues to be business as usual with our other airline partners who are in the SkyTeam alliance, which includes airlines like Korean Air, Air France and KLM. We also have great options with our other global partners.

If people want to continue booking through Alaska Airlines for travel on Delta Air Lines, how long can they do that?

Charles Breer: Through April 30, 2017, people can continue to book flights on Delta Air Lines through Alaska Airlines, as long as the travel occurs on or before April 30, 2017.

How long can people earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles by flying on Delta Air Lines flights?

Ryan Butz: If Mileage Plan members have already booked a flight on Delta Air Lines, they will still be able to earn Alaska miles for those flights. For members who are about to book travel, they would need to book and complete travel prior to April 30, 2017 to earn Alaska miles.

What about for customers interested in redeeming Mileage Plan miles for award travel on Delta Air Lines?

Ryan Butz: Mileage Plan members can continue to redeem miles for award travel on Delta Air Lines as long as the bookings occur before April 30, 2017. However, it is important to note that for travel after April 30, 2017, travelers will need to work directly with the operating carrier to address and accommodate any customer-initiated changes.

For specific details on how this may impact your future travel with Delta Air Lines, please visit alaskaair.com/Delta.

52 Comments on “What you need to know about Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan enhancements and changes to the Delta Air Lines relationship

  1. I’m a firm believer that the Delta connection brought Alaska Airlines down, so I think this can only be a good thing for my airline of choice. Good thing my husband’s award ticket on Delta is a week before this deadline! 🙂

    • I agree. I think, as an airline, Delta has headed on a downward trajectory similar to United. My experience may be skewed as an Alaska Elite Flyer. They have not been particularly professional or kind when flying on Delta as an Alaska identified flyer. I am happy to hear the alliance with KLM, Air France, and Korean will be maintained. Also, redeeming award travel on Delta is relatively expensive compared to other airline frequent flier programs. I welcome this merger with Virgin America…..I hope Alaska keeps many of the customer service elements/aircraft elements of Virgin that has worked so well for them.

  2. Is it possible to transfer my Delta Sky miles to my Alaska plan?

  3. For the past year, I haven’t seen any award seats on AF or KLM. Does dropping of DL mean we will finally see award seats on AF and KLM?

    • Hi Steve – The change with Delta will not have any impact on the partnership with KLM or Air France. Alaska will continue to work with the Global Partners to maximize the award space available for awards.

  4. As a near million miler flier, I’ve commented to friends that Alaska Airlines has a brilliant marketing team and strategist. Well done.

  5. Is there a way to convert my Delta SkyMiles into the Alaska Mileage Plan?

  6. San Diego to Seattle is only about 1053 miles. Shouldn’t this route be redeemable for 7500 miles one-way, not 10,000 miles one-way as the chart in your blog post suggests?

    Thanks,
    Todd

  7. I fly to Europe a bunch for business… and have flown Delta for much of it (I’ve also flown British and Lufthansa on occasion, but find the DL flights usually better for my needs).

    If I were to fly on a KL or AF codeshare (on a DL fight to AMS or CDG for example), does that still get credit? The info above (and on your website) is not clear on that….

    Thanks

      • I’m in a similar spot as Kevin. I fly regularly to Europe (mostly Paris) from Seattle and DL is the most convenient option. BA, FI, and AA have options from SEA with connections, but it’s tough to pass on a nonstop flight. I’m a huge fan of AS (by far the best frequent flyer program in the industry), but DL’s international coverage from SEA is pretty solid. Hopefully AF/KL starts flights on their own metal soon. Any plans for teaming up with other airlines?

  8. I’m confused about the termination with Delta. Alaska Airlines seems to say that their relationship with Air France and KLM will continue on after 04/30/17 but that their relationship with Delta is ending on 04/30/17. I thought Delta/KLM/Air France were all under the same group? When I book tickets to France every year on Delta.com the boarding passes and tickets always seem to mention Delta/KLM/Air France. So will the direct route from PDX to AMS no longer count for mileage rewards or redemption after 04/30/17 or will it still count and if so, whose website do I book it on?

    • Hi Christine: The change with Delta will not have any impact on the partnership with KLM or Air France. Alaska will continue to work with its Global Partners to maximize the award space available for awards.

  9. Frankly, I was tired of Delta flexing their muscles and playing the intimidation game. Delta took the NWA relationship and basically ruined it. Glad to see them go.
    P.S. I am a Delta MillionMiler who has not flown them since 2011.

  10. Sorry you are ending it with Delta!
    We used Delta when traveling to Europe last spring.

  11. Good riddance, Delta!
    Keep up the great work Alaska Air. I really feel you listen to me as a customer. Genius how you differentiate your airline’s mileage program by taking the path you have. We all get it and appreciate it. You will continue to get my business.

  12. I have tried numerous times to book a flight to Europe and the only airlines that ever show are British Airways which charges ridiculous fees, sometimes up to $800.00 per award ticket or Emirates. There are also very limited seats to Asia unless you go to Japan. It is really hard to redeem miles and I think you really need to work on that since it almost caused me to change airlines. I’m a Alaska Gold 75k and have been for several years. Thanks.

  13. I have award travel scheduled for May 16th on Delta, SEA to JFK, will that still be honored?!!!

      • I booked a Delta flight on Dec 17th to the UK before this announcement came out mainly because I thought I would get Alaska miles. My flight isn’t until the end of May and returning mid June. Am I out of luck for earning the miles to my Alaska account?

  14. Since I know the Alaska team is watching this thread in the wake of the announcement, I’ll leave my suggestion: FWIW, you should consider implementing a higher tier for very frequent fliers, along the lines of Delta’s Diamond tier, if you want to attract more business fliers. I’d come over to Alaska from Delta if I thought I could be in a perks pool with the far fewer number of people above 125K instead of the much (!) larger pool of Gold 75Ks.

    • Ryan – I fly AS almost weekly ORD/SEA and barely make 75K. Because of their routes, you would probably find yourself alone at a 125K mile threshold. Remember that AS bases upgrades not only on status but separates the wheat from the chaff by upgrading based of fare base so if there are two otherwise equal status members the one who pays most is upgraded… and I’m fine with that. AS doesn’t upgrade your company expense account but upgrades you. If I were to fly Delta (I am a million miler who no longer flies them) ORD/SEA, which of course requires a stop, I would earn a whopping 956 miles per trip based on the price I pay. As a 75K flying AS, I earn 3,870 miles each trip. That, thankfully, is not going away from AS as they believe that time in the seats deserves the miles earned. Revenue based awards for AS is a long long way off.

  15. Just curious why no cities actually in the state of Alaska are mentioned in the “sample routes” column. Should Alaskans be worried?

  16. It was only a matter of time that this would end. Delta was clearly not interested in actually being a partner. As they kept elbowing in to Alaska turf. Delta’s Asian routes (they gained when they took over Northwest) will be tough to replace but that’s how it goes. If you fly Alaska often it’s easy to take for granted how exceptional their service is. But as soon as you fly on another carrier you’ll wish you were on AS.

    PS: can you please work on island to island service (partner or Horizon) for Hawaii.

    • Yes, Yes, YES!!! I’ve been asking for inter-island service for years now. The hardest part of moving to Hawaii was the loss of so many Alaska flights. Alaska personnel always seem to enjoy their jobs, unlike another airline here locally. You’d think that an airline with “Hawaiian” in the name would be one of the friendliest airlines there is – considering that they’re often the first and last impression of Hawaii.

      Alaska Air would be the airline to smash their monopoly and ridiculous air fares for interisland travel.

      Any chance that you might consider an occasional flight to/from Hilo?

  17. This is understandable but very unfortunate for my own situation. Given that there is no AS service to my home airport, YUL, I frequently find myself flying on DL to the US, and mileage earning in P class is very attractive with reasonable prices. AA does not offer an attractive schedule in many cases, so I’m now left with…. nothing?

  18. I will not miss seeing my name on the Delta Upgrade list as 31 of 31, or 45 of 45. It was insulting to always be the last on the upgrade list as an MVP Gold.

  19. Booked on Delta flying to Italy Fall 2017. I am using Alaska miles. Will this affect me?

  20. When you get the new planes, please buy the AF route LAX-Tahiti..we can never get Award seats on it and it fits with your new West Coast fly-anywhere strategy.

  21. I do little international flying, but am frequently flying to FL, via Alaska/Delta as it has the best connections west coast to east coast. I am sorely saddened that the Delta miles will not be recognized since that is the majority of my miles. I am not sure how the merge with Virgin will help me.

  22. What if I book an Air France coded flight that is operated by Delta? Will I be able to get miles?

  23. Okay – that will create some trouble as Delta flies the direct route from Seattle to CDG for AF.

  24. Great news!

    I moved to Alaska a few years ago and I was admittedly slow to embrace Alaska Airlines. Of course, Alaska is the only carrier in the Juneau market during winter. The winter price gouge is a little rough in Juneau, so the reduced award ticket tiers will help some.

    It was nice to see the Alaska Airlines route map expand a little more with the Virgin merger. Hopefully Alaska Airlines is seeking to close the coverage outage between ORD and PHI; a largely populated part of the country that is currently not served by Alaska Airlines. The new IND flight is, of course, a start.

    I must say your customer service representatives are a top notch crew. They have always been patient, respectful, and helpful in my dealings with them. This is a good expansion of mileage plan benefits. The Alaska Airlines mileage plan is probably the best award system in the industry (some may disagree).

    Keep up the great work!

  25. This is a big miss as Delta gave international non-stop getaways from Seattle, which no other partner offers as Delta has a hub in Seattle.
    Alaska, please fix that. I’d love to travel with you internationally.

  26. Last month I purchased a ticket to Paris on delta for May 27 so that I would earn Alaska miles. Will I still earn these miles?

  27. I love flying Delta. They have flights to where I travel, the seats are comfortable, flights are on time, and the staff are wonderful. If Alaska could match these attributes, I wouldn’t mind this change.

  28. You made this announcement on Dec 19th, and retroactively reduced my credited mileage for multi-destination Delta travel completed December 15th. Ever heard of notifying your customers *before* you reduce their mileage plan benefits?

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