Alaska Announces New Destinations And Double Miles

Alaska Airlines has been aggressively adding destinations from their west coast hubs this year, primarily as a result of competition with Delta.

Today, however, they announced three additional routes from Seattle, all to destinations they don’t presently serve.

New Alaska Destinations Graphic

The three new destinations are New Orleans, Tampa, and Detroit.

The schedules for the new services are as follows:

Starting June 12, 2014:
Alaska 788 Seattle to New Orleans departing 10:15AM arriving 5:00PM
Alaska 789 New Orleans to Seattle departing 5:55PM arriving 8:50PM

Starting June 20, 2014:
Alaska 775 Seattle to Tampa departing 8:50AM arriving 5:30PM
Alaska 775 Tampa to Seattle departing 6:30PM arriving 9:25PM

Starting September 4, 2014:
Alaska 792 Seattle to Detroit departing 10:20AM arriving 5:05PM
Alaska 793 Detroit to Seattle departing 6:00PM arriving 8:55PM

The Detroit service will be operated by a Boeing 737-800, while the New Orleans and Tampa service will be operated by a Boeing 737-900.

Furthermore, to celebrate the new services, Alaska will be offering double miles on all three routes:

  • Earn double redeemable miles to New Orleans through August 15, 2014
  • Earn double redeemable miles to Tampa through August 15, 2014
  • Earn double redeemable and elite qualifying miles to Detroit through October 31, 2014

It’s hardly surprising that they’re offering an extra incentive on the Detroit route, since that’s a route currently only served by their frienemy, Delta.

Alaska-New-Service-Seattle

Chances are that no one is more excited about the new route between Tampa and Seattle than my mother, though by the time the service begins it won’t really be useful to me anymore. I would’ve flown the route a ton while living in Seattle, though by June I’ll have moved on to greener different pastures.

Perhaps it will still be useful to Hack My Trip, though, so he can visit my parents. I think they prefer him to me anyway.

The economics of these routes fascinates me

The economics of once daily service amazes me. Obviously the more flights you operate to an airport, the lower costs you can maintain on a per flight basis (economies of scale 101). So I don’t really get how all of these once daily services are profitable for Alaska, though clearly they are, or else they wouldn’t be operating them.

Another thing I don’t get is their scheduling. Let me preface this once again by saying that I’m sure they’re right and I’m just dumb, but I never get why almost all of their once daily transcon service operates a daytime schedule.

I would assume that for most of the airports that Alaska has once daily service to, they’re picking up a lot more “originating” traffic at the outstations than in Seattle. For example, someone is much more likely to fly on Alaska from Tampa to Spokane (via Seattle), than they are to fly from Miami to Seattle (via Tampa on American and Alaska). As a result it would seem to make a lot more sense to me to operate the eastbound flights as redeyes and westbound flights in the morning, allowing plenty of connections in Seattle in both directions.

Like I said Alaska has their $&*% together so clearly they’re right and I’m wrong, but that doesn’t stop them from fascinating me.

Seattle expansion

Between Alaska and Delta, the amount of air service expansion that Seattle is seeing right now is unreal. Ultimately as consumers we’re the winners, since it means more promotions and lower fares. Admittedly the cost of airfare on the whole is on the rise, though we should still be better off in Seattle than in other places.

And of course the city wins, with all the extra traffic passing through…

Comments

  1. These schedules make perfect sense to me – the late morning departure from SEA allows for connections from the early morning Horizon flights that arrive en masse around 7-8 am. The evening arrival in SEA is perfect for connecting to the late evening bank of Horizon flights that depart around 10-11pm. It’s fun to see the Horizon concourse mobbed with hundreds of travelers that late in the evening, but it works. And who wants to sleep for 3 hours in a cramped economy seat on a domestic redeye anyway? Never could figure out the attraction of that.

  2. I think these are still ‘shots across the bow’ and are a part of AS’ negotiatiing strategy with DL.

    DL wants more money out of the partnership. AS does not want to give it. Leads to today’s situation.

    I believe it is ‘frenemy’, or ‘frenemies’

    But, since you are such a friendly guy you put the emphasis on the friend part with ‘frienemies’. šŸ™‚

  3. Since the SEA-DTW route does not open until 9/4, and the promotion is only until 10/31. That means I have to book and travel after 9/4 but before 10/31 to get the points? I looked at this route on AS website right now and it still has DL/AS connections.

  4. @ JD — Correct, you only earn double miles between September 4 and October 31. The tickets should go on sale today on alaskaair.com. Yesterday they were only bookable by phone.

  5. @Dan:

    With that kind of lifestyle, I would end up in Bellevue (The hospital), not Bellevue (the city)! šŸ™‚

  6. Haha… as soon as I saw TPA on the list I thought – “this would have been very useful to Lucky!”

    Has any blogger ever done a report on all destinations airline X flies to? Since some people want to read more “realistic” trip-reports, perhaps Lucky can spend a couple of months of his home-free year by flying AS to every city/town they server and spending 1-2 nights there! šŸ˜‰

  7. I think AS’s schedule works for them because they have several redeye flights from Alaska that arrive in the morning, as well as a whole bank of Horizon props (and throw in a few Hawaii redeyes.) All those pax connect to AS’s transcon and midcon destination. And in the reverse direction there are at least three late night ANC flights as well as an outbound Horizon bank (whose aircraft presumably RON and become the early morning inbound). For SEA originating pax, a daytime flight arriving just before dinner is often attractive, and the return flights leave at the end of the business day while still allowing connections. I kind of see why it works, and generally AS can get higher fares on daytime flights than red-eyes, at least on the transcons. On some routes they do run East Coast redeyes (BOS, FLL, MCO some seasonally.)

    As to the economics of a single flight/day, AS outsources everything. Ticket Counter – outsourced. Gate – outsourced. Below the wing – outsourced. I think there is usually one single AS employee in a city with 1 daily flight. I don’t know if they relocate there or commute.

  8. @Carl:

    That matches my experience. When I recently flew Alaska from PHL-SEA (evening flight, of course), the Alaska gate looked like it had been cobbled together in a hurry. It was in a corner of the terminal and had a small Alaska sign on a bare concrete wall.

    The attendants, all quite friendly to me, were all Delta employees, contracted to work for the 3 hours that gate was open each day. One of them mentioned something about their contract expiring in the next few weeks (this was last month), which led me to wonder if a change was in the works.

    Though in truth, my gut feeling is that these 1x departures are just a claw into a new airport and advertising for an unfamiliar brand. Eventually, when the time is right and people start using Alaska more, expect some of these to go 2x. Or perhaps 1x to SEA and 1x to PDX, though maybe I’m just dreaming now. šŸ™‚

  9. Sorry, when I said “gate” I was referring to the check-in counter. The actual gate looked like all the other gates in the terminal.

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