Alaska Cuts Elite Benefits For Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members

Earlier today I posted about Delta’s announcement that they would be cutting elite benefits for Alaska MVP elite members traveling on Delta flights as of May 1, 2014.

For MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members, the following benefits are being cut for travel on Delta as of May 1, 2014:

Meanwhile for MVP members, the following benefits are being cut for travel on Delta as of May 1, 2014:

  • Checked Baggage Fee Waiver for First Bag
  • Priority Baggage Handling
  • 25% Discount on International Economy Comfort™ Seating

It appears as if this was reciprocal devaluation, and that Alaska is also cutting elite benefits for Delta SkyMiles Medallion members. Specifically, if you go to the SkyMiles partner airlines elite benefits page on delta.com you’ll see the following update:

Effective for tickets purchased on or after May 1, 2014, baggage fee waivers will no longer be available as an elite benefit when flying Alaska Airlines. If traveling on or after May 1, 2014, priority security line access will also no longer be available as an elite benefit when flying Alaska Airlines.

So Alaska is cutting baggage fee waivers and priority security lines for Delta flyers traveling on Alaska. Alaska doesn’t offer priority baggage handling (all their bags are guaranteed to arrive within 20 minutes), Economy Comfort discounts (since they don’t have such a cabin), or Zone 1 boarding (since that’s just a general boarding group for Alaska), so they matched these changes as closely as they could.

Delta-Alaska-Elite-Benefits

At the same time I can’t help but find it a bit funny that they’re still offering reciprocal upgrades and elite mileage bonuses for travel on the other carrier. Perhaps that’s part of their partnership contract which they can’t alter.

So, what’s next?

Comments

  1. So, I am really trying to see how this all settles out. When DELTA recently announced their revenue based changes to SkyMiles, I immediately contemplated switching to Alaska’s membership program and ride out our accumulated DELTA miles. Now with this ugly divorce playing out between the two, I am pausing hesitantly.

  2. As Delta cuts off Alaska Mileage Plan as a viable alternative to credit flights to, I think we are going to be given a clear picture of how important the FF program is to selecting a carrier to most passengers. If people continue to fly DL at the same rate after all the uproar and rankling over Skymiles changes thinking there was a safe harbor in AS, UA and AA are going to take notice and the results will not be pretty. As a certain wide receiver used to say, “get your popcorn ready.”

  3. With rounds of devaluation of mileage plans all around, I was also doubting those plans’ real values, and agree with @Jason that not a single airline is necessarily worth 100% of trust, nowadays. Somehow I’ve been wondering what the *equilibrium* in economics will really look like if the industry is mature enough; flights from point A to B at same fare rates on three competing airlines, deploying similar aircrafts with identical inflight products (from wifi to seats) and services (same flow of greeting and rounds of drinks), namely representing SA, OW and ST? It might be an extreme idea, but we do see some signs today: every week or every day airlines are matching the fares to each other’s on competing routes while monopolizing other routes out of their hubs with less competition.
    (Hopefully the perfect economic equilibrium won’t exist in real world.)

    But here in the battle between DL and AS, I think something is different. They are so closely tied to each other that AS will surely be in disadvantage if they don’t fight back. It’s different from the purpose of FF program to attract flyers. I believe there might be some creative way of gaining benefits with ‘friendly’ FF programs in contrast to Skypeso’s model, but in the SEA market, if not following DL’s move, AS is actually ignoring the well-being of their own MVPs, who also deserve a less crowded sky.

  4. Free upgrades are basically that: the marginal cost to the other airline is so small (and they only process after the airline’s own cadre of elites) it doesn’t make sense to cut until their actually divorce (which we all know will happen sooner rather than later).

  5. I appreciate Lucky’s informative website, but I really think that too many readers are sheep: I encourage everyone to contact their airline and make your feelings known. It’s regrettable that Amex Platinum’s lounge benefits have eroded; it’s probably because customers do nothing. I am going to write DL and AS (but they obviously do not care).

  6. @ Phillip — It (almost) wouldn’t surprise me, given how many OneWorld airlines they already partner with (and to further thump their nose at Delta).

  7. In recent weeks, I’ve flown American and Delta, crediting flights on both to Alaska. One segment on AA was in first, the rest in coach (two in premium economy). Both are comparable, but Delta is slightly better for the overall in flight experience IMO. If American gave out complementary upgrades on its new JFK to SFO/LAX transcon, I’d switch immediately, but they don’t, so I’ll continue flying both and crediting to Alaska as long as I can…

  8. @Anthony
    You must have AA confused with Delta. AA DOES give complementary upgrades on their JFK-SFO/LAX transcons – I just flew that route last week (LAX) and was upgraded. I’m an EXP on AA (You would need 500 mile stickers for GLD/PLT as is the case on other AA flights).

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