Need further proof of an airline partnership falling apart? Look no further than the recent announcement of new award rates by Alaska Airlines for travel on partner Delta Air Lines. Similar to most changes of this nature lately the news is not particularly good for customers. But this one is more than just award costs going up. Yes, that happened. Rates changed – all increases – in the following regions:
- Continental U.S. and Canada
- Australia or Mid-Pacific
- Central and South America
With nearly all regions/routes are covered by the change things are bad. The magnitude of the changes – exceeding 50% on business class awards to Australia, for example – is also somewhat stunning. If there is a silver lining it is that they gave some warning: the changes take effect for bookings starting 6 May 2014.
Most interesting to me, however, is the ** which now shows up on the award charts. The fine print there is perhaps more revealing about the relationship than the significant increases in award costs:
**Not valid for travel in Business/First on nonstop flights between New York – JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle.
Delta apparently thinks so highly of their transcon business product that it is no longer available to Mileage Plan members as an award option, except in the case of an award only in the Lower 48/Canada, and then at a 30% premium to prior rates. Yes, the product is much nicer than what Alaska offers on its own flights, but the seat is pretty much the same as what American and United have. That said, the new 65k rate matches what a Mileage Plan member would be paying on American metal so maybe this is just a long overdue change. But blocking those three routes from other redemptions sucks for members looking to travel further afield. Someone in LA no longer can take the non-stop to JFK before a flight to Europe in BusinessElite. Similarly a New Yorker cannot link up to Delta’s Sydney service on a non-stop flight.
It truly seems that it is only a matter of time before the relationship fully disintegrates.
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So is this chart just for flights on Delta or across the board on AS partners?
I think it might be business as usual adjustment, with Delta having similar redemption rates in their own program (and exclusive view of their premium transcon routes in terms of upgrades) – rather then another chapter in their cold war.
A few pointers… AS for years has had significantly lower rates than DL for the same award, particularly for Business Class awards. Now, they are adjusting the awards to somewhat match what DL charges their own flyers. I expect the DL award options to be worse when they implement the 5 tier award structure as AS flyers will need the absolute lowest level to be available. We all know that the new structure will create more inventory in the second lowest tier [act as a compromise of some sort between the current Low and Mid level inventory].
Domestic BusinessElite awards was never bookable using AS miles, only coach. I have complained about that in the past. This is not really new, just more clear now.
What is happening now with DL is similar to what happened with AF/KL a couple months ago, however the AF/KL biz awards were already higher than DL across the board, so the increase was not as big percentage-wise compared to DL’s.
P.S. transcon F on AA will soon no longer be bookable too. The award chart states F on 2 class bird or business class on 3 class bird. I am not sure about an International 3-cabin F award though [i.e. LAX-JFK-LHR].
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