Delta and Alaska Airlines are terminating their code-share partnership, and Alaska announced some Mileage Plan changes, including the rate at which Virgin Elevate members can convert their points to Mileage Plan miles.
Who couldn’t see this coming? Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have been engaged in an increasingly tough market share battle at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the past few years, and now that Alaska has consummated its merger with Virgin America, it is gaining a presence in more of Delta’s most lucrative transcontinental routes. So the two airlines announced today they are ending their code-sharing and frequent flyer partnerships this spring.
The termination takes effect April 30. After that date, the two airlines will no longer offer bookings on each other’s flights that are currently code-shares (although they will still maintain interline agreements for ticketing and baggage connectivity). Members of the two airlines’ loyalty programs can still book and claim award travel on the other carrier through April 30, but not for travel after that date (unless it was booked by December 18, although no changes will be allowed as of May 1). SkyMiles and Mileage Plan members can no longer earn miles on the other carrier after April 30, and elite-level benefits will no longer be mutually offered.
Alaska noted that the termination of its Delta partnership does not affect its partnership with other members of Delta’s SkyTeam global alliance, including Korean Air, Air France and KLM.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department required Alaska to stop code-sharing on 45 American Airlines routes as a condition of approving Alaska’s merger with Virgin America.
Meanwhile, Alaska also announced the rate for converting Virgin America points into Mileage Plan miles: 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per 1 Elevate point. (Thank goodness they decided to be somewhat generous here and did not go with 1:1!)
Alaska also announced some changes to its Mileage Plan loyalty program – which has not followed other major carriers in changing over to a spending-based model. The carrier has reduced the mileage cost of many reward flights, has increased earning levels on some partner airlines, and now allows free upgrades for elite members on award flights when they book economy cabin tickets. Here’s Alaska’s chart comparing new and old costs of award travel:
Mileage Plan members will also earn more miles on international partner carriers now, Alaska said – up to 80 percent more for business class and first class travel on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Hainan, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, Korean, LATAM and Qantas. Mileage earnings will also increase for economy class travel on Icelandair, Fiji, Hainan, Japan Airlines and LATAM.
For example, a business class flight on Cathay Pacific from LAX to Hong Kong that previously earned 9,059 Mileage Plan miles will now earn 16,306; and a business class flight from San Francisco to Sydney on Qantas will now earn 25,960 miles instead of the previous 11,126.
Alaska has created a web page outlining the changes to Mileage Plan.