So, Alaska has access to more Air France award space than Delta… what does that tell us?

Since last year Delta SkyMiles members have had access to only a subset of Air France award availability. Previously Air France was just about the best airline on which you could redeem SkyMiles given how much award space they released, though overnight Air France award space was blocked to SkyMiles members for months at a time.

The big question for me was whether Air France was blocking the award space from SkyMiles members, or whether Delta was blocking the Air France space from their own SkyMiles members because they didn’t want to compensate Air France for it.

Initially I had assumed that it was the former, and that it was Air France doing the blocking, and therefore the space was blocked to all partner airlines. However, now that Air France award tickets can be booked through Alaska Airlines’ website it’s interesting to note that Alaska Mileage Plan members have access to the same Air France award space as Flying Blue members.

For example, Flying Blue has the following award space in business class from Washington to Paris on June 30:

And Alaska does indeed show the same award space:

Meanwhile Delta doesn’t show the space.

So Alaska has access to more Air France award space than their own SkyTeam partner, Delta. I propose we just rename them the “Sky” alliance, because that’s about the only thing the airlines have in common.

But it wasn’t always that way. Several months ago I called Alaska to inquire about Air France award space, and it seemed like the availability they had access to more or less matched what was available to SkyMiles members.

Then in May Alaska raised the award rates for travel on Air France, to put their pricing in line with what Air France charges their own Flying Blue members. I found this to be a curious move, given that this was the only devaluation that Alaska made to their award chart. I figured that if they wanted to devalue their award chart there are plenty of other partner redemption opportunities they could have gone after first. However, after this change it appears as if Alaska has access to exactly the same Air France award space as Flying Blue members.

What conclusions can we draw from that? If I had to speculate I’d say that probably a while back Air France increased the amount they charge their partner airlines for award space. Ultimately I have no clue how billing between airlines works for award seats (and anyone that does isn’t in a position to talk), but the only logical conclusion I can draw is that they tried to raise the cost of redemptions to partners, partners weren’t happy, so they agreed to only release a subset of award availability to partners.

The fact that Alaska raised their redemption rates for travel on Air France to be in line with those of Flying Blue suggests to me that maybe Alaska was willing to pay the higher redemption costs Air France was charging, and passed that cost on to consumers by raising redemption rates.

At least that’s the only logical conclusion I can come up with. What do you guys think?

Comments

  1. I 100% agree. So why the @#$% doesn’t Delta just raise their redemption rates and make the space available to us SkyMiles members?

    Earlier, today, my partner excitedly told me that DL was matching the current WN sale…I asked why should I care…I only book award tickets with DL now…jerks.

  2. I have the same conclusion on AS willing to pay more to AF to compensate for the price. Glad to see improvement on AS website. I think Delta system is in need of overhaul, AF availability is unpredictable, even within the same hour of booking. Although, I was able to snag three I seats LAX-CDG-SEA for 100K each for Feb 2014, although it took me several days to figure out the best availability (tip: clear browser cache to see ‘disappearing’ AF availability while you are hunting for the seats).

  3. @ derick — There’s not a specific place you search. If you do an award search and Air France has award space, it will show up.

  4. le sigh..i post to quickly on here lol. So cant find any business space on AF but its interesting to do LAX to CDG and look at the britsh airways vs delta business and FC

  5. On top of the news that DL won’t grant MQMs for travel on KE at all – even for first class – one has to wonder if Skyteam is disintegrating generally, or if DL in particular just isn’t playing well with others.

  6. This blog post seems to imply that Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines are both in SkyTeam (“So Alaska has access to more Air France award space than their own SkyTeam partner, Delta. I propose we just rename them the ā€œSkyā€ alliance, because thatā€™s about the only thing the airlines have in common”), but Alaska is not in any alliance and has partnerships that span alliances. Just wanted to be clear on that. šŸ™‚ Thank you for pointing this out though, I’ve got a stash of AS miles and this is good to know for redemptions!

  7. @ John-Paul — That’s exactly what I was saying with what you quote, sorry if it wasn’t clear — Delta is in SkyTeam and Alaska isn’t.

  8. Why am I still having tremendous difficulties finding AF low coach award to Europe with skypesos? AF coach award prices to Europe were not changed. On a very, very good day I may see KLM award; but AF awards are almost extinct. I think Delta has indirectly devalued the award chart.

  9. Not having any experience with Delta, now I see why they are called “sky pesos”. From what I’ve heard, the AF product is meh, and you keep telling us how hard they are to book. Yet they charge 62.5 for one way Bus T/A. That same amount of miles gets me FC on AA….

  10. Assuming AF raised the fee it charges partners for award redemption, wouldn’t members of the DL-AF-KL-AZ transatlantic joint venture theoretically be exempt? After all, the four airlines are said to share all TATL revenue, so none should care which partner frequent fliers elect to redeem on.

  11. AF wants DL to charge a co-pay for awards. DL refuses, so AF is blocking avail, combined with DL’s aversion to low awards and AS looks better and better.

  12. FYI, just found out from Alaska, after I tried to book an AF award, that some of the award space on the website is phantom award space and does not actually exist. Not sure how prevalent it is in the system, hopefully not a lot.

  13. Hi Lucky,

    Does availability on AF saver level (the light green days on calendar) match Alaska? I checked a bunch of days and it doen’t seem to show up on Alaska’s website. Do I need to call you think? Or is the availability on Alaska’s website the same as over the phone?

    Thanks!

  14. @ acs — Hmmm, last I checked they had access to the same space, but I’ve also found Alaska’s website to be pretty accurate when it comes to Air France space. What route are you looking at?

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