Alaska Mileage Plan Devalues Delta Award Chart

As I’ve said before, I might as well start a separate blog to cover the bloodbath between Alaska and Delta which I like to call the “battle for Seattle.” There seem to be updates to it just about every day. Initially they played nice, and then they just began trying to run one another out of business by undercutting fares and offering promotion after promotion after promotion.

They took it to the next level a couple of weeks ago when Delta cut elite benefits for Alaska Mileage Plan MVP members, and then shortly thereafter Alaska cut elite benefits for Delta SkyMiles members. The contract for their partnership runs through at least the end of the year, and they can’t seem to mutually agree that it just isn’t working out (or they just have a really twisted way of showing affection).

Anyway, Alaska Mileage Plan has just announced award rate increases for travel on Delta, for tickets issued on or after May 6, 2014. Interestingly this is the second time this year they’ve done this. Earlier in the year Alaska raised award redemption rates for travel on Delta to Europe, from 90,000 to 100,000 miles in business class.

Here are the current Alaska Mileage Plan award charts for travel on Delta:

Now this shouldn’t really matter, because no one in their right mind should be redeeming Alaska miles (possibly the most valuable mileage currency) for travel on Delta, given how many great uses there are of those miles. As a further reminder, keep in mind that unlike other airlines, Alaska’s award costs vary for travel on each partner, so this doesn’t impact redemption rates on any airline other than Delta.

So how bad are the changes? Well, what Alaska is doing here is basically aligning their redemption costs for travel on Delta to what Delta charges their own SkyMiles members (at the saver level)

For travel between the US & Canada or on US transcontinental routes, the cost of first/business class awards is increasing from 50,000 miles to 65,000 miles.

Delta-MileagePlan-1

For travel between the lower 48 US & Hawaii, the cost of economy class awards is increasing from 40,000 miles to 45,000 miles.

Delta-MileagePlan-2

For travel between the lower 48 US & India/the Middle East/Africa, the cost of economy class awards is increasing from 80,000 miles to 85,000 miles, and the cost of business class redemptions is increasing from 120,000 miles to 140,000 miles. Meanwhile for travel between the lower 48 US & South Africa, the cost of economy class awards is going to be 100,000 miles, while the cost of business class is going to be 160,000 miles.

Delta-MileagePlan-3

For travel between the lower 48 US & Asia, the cost of economy class awards is increasing from 60,000 miles to 80,000 miles, and the cost of business class redemptions is increasing from 120,000 miles to 140,000 miles.

Delta-MileagePlan-4

For travel between the lower 48 US & Australia, the cost of economy class awards is increasing from 80,000 miles to 100,000 miles, and the cost of business class redemptions is increasing from 105,000 miles to 160,000 miles.

Delta-MileagePlan-5

For travel between the lower 48 US & Europe, the cost of business class awards is increasing from 100,000 miles to 125,000 miles.

Delta-MileagePlan-6

And lastly for travel to Central and South Africa, the costs are going up across the board.

Delta-MileagePlan-7

Bottom line

Alaska is giving advance notice on this, and while some of the increases are huge, my guess is that these changes are at least somewhat out of their control. I see this having played out one of three ways:

  • Alaska just wanted to piss off Delta by throwing off the “balance” of award reimbursements — it must feel good to get a check from Delta at whatever the end of the account period is
  • Delta has raised their reimbursement costs for awards booked through Alaska
  • More likely, Delta forced Alaska to raise redemption rates to “align” with their rates, in the hopes that frequent Delta passengers would begin crediting miles to Delta directly instead of to Alaska

What do you think about the changes, and who do you think was responsible?

(Tip of the hat to Laurel)

Comments

  1. @ Sam — So the thing about Alaska’s award chart is that it’s REALLY REALLY REALLY good for redemptions to certain regions, and just really crappy to others. For travel to Tel Aviv, unfortunately your only real options Air France or Delta.

  2. Gave me a heart attack until I read the whole headline. Indeed, no one in their right mind would redeem AS miles for DL flights, except maybe Delta Points who advocated the idea last week. smh.

  3. hopefully this is one step closer to complete separation. i don’t want Delta fliers to collect super valuable Alaska miles and then compete for my awards!
    Stay with Delta suckers.

  4. Lucky, DL Gold (seeking Plat this year) would the appropriate strategy be to apply all DL metal flights to Skymiles to maintain Plat for next year. Then next year with the new earning rates apply all DL metal flights to AlaskaAir (pending you still can)?

  5. @ Matt — Yes, if you’re primarily flying Delta and can earn Platinum by crediting flights to them rather than to Alaska, I’d do that.

  6. @ Gene — So what do you think caused it? Seems odd that this is the second time in a bit over two months that they’re raising redemption costs on Delta.

  7. @ Ben — “Well, what Alaska is doing here is basically aligning their redemption costs for travel on Delta to what Delta charges their own SkyMiles members (at the saver level).”

    I think that is the reason, nothing more.

  8. It is far more likely that Delta acquires or seeks to acquire Alaska (spinning off the intra-Alaska flying) than that they separate completely.

  9. It seems like AS miles are decently hard to come by without flying a lot. What is the best way to pick up miles? All the CC’s that transfer to AS only seem to accrue at 1x.

  10. @ Brian — Their credit card is extremely churnable, they frequently put their miles on sale, and you can transfer Starpoints. But agree, otherwise not tons of ways to earn miles with them.

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