Breaking: Delta and Alaska Partnership Will End in 2017

Alaska Airlines is unique in that as a US airline, they maintain a partnership with two other legacy US airlines: American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Over the years, they have become increasingly competitive with Delta, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, with Seattle as a major battleground. Following the merger of their merger with Virgin America, Alaska’s presence in the West Coast will be even stronger, and they have finally decided that they don’t need a partnership with Delta anymore.

The partnership between Delta and Alaska Airlines will end on April 30, 2017. Alaska kind of sneaked this announcement in a larger press release mostly about changes to Mileage Plan, with lower redemption rates and upgrades on award travels.

Alaska and Delta Air Lines are ending their partnership in 2017. Photo by Eric Salard, used with permission.

Alaska and Delta Air Lines are ending their partnership in 2017. Photo by Eric Salard, used with permission.

Regarding the change in partnership, Charles Breer, managing director of the alliances at Alaska, offered this explanation, which I think is very reasonable and not unexpected:

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.

You can still book award tickets for travel through the end of schedule, as long as you book your tickets before April 30, 2017. However, if you decide to make any changes to your itinerary after April 30, you will have to deal directly with Delta. I applaud Alaska for this, because this means they are giving us at least 4 months of notice before an award partner is going away, and this means you will theoretically still be able to book Delta tickets for travel up to ~15 months out.

As far as earning Alaska miles with Delta flights, you can continue to earn Alaska miles on Delta tickets, if they are already booked (even if the flight dates are beyond April 30). However, effective immediately, you will only be able to book new itineraries and earn Alaska miles on newly booked Delta flights for travel that happen before April 30. Delta has created a handy table for reference.

Booking/Ticketing Date

Travel Date

Earn Miles

Redeem Miles

Before 12/19/2016

12/19/2016 – 12/17/17

Yes

Yes

12/19/2016 – 4/30/2017

12/19/2016 –  4/30/17

Yes

Yes

12/19/2016 – 4/30/2017

5/1/2017 and beyond

No

Yes

5/1/2017 and beyond

5/1/2017 and beyond

No

No

What do you think of Alaska severing its ties with Delta?

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