It’s not often I feel sorry for an airline, but I’ve gotta be honest — I feel kind of bad for Alaska Airlines and can’t help but feel like Delta hasn’t been acting in good faith with them. Last October Delta announced huge international expansion in Seattle, which was supposed to further strengthen their relationship with Alaska. The premise of the expanded relationship was that Alaska would provide the additional domestic feed for Delta’s additional international service.
Over the past several months Delta hasn’t just announced more international service out of Seattle, but has also announced they’re going to go head-to-head with Alaska on a bunch of domestic routes. After all, why have a partner airline provide the domestic feed when Delta could fill those planes themselves?
Delta announced several daily frequencies from Seattle to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Alaska reacted by announcing a double miles promotion (both redeemable and elite qualifying) on several of the overlapping routes through May 31, 2014.
Well, today Delta announced they’d be encroaching even further on Alaska’s territory, as they’ll now be flying four times daily between Seattle and Portland using CRJ-900 aircraft, which even feature a first class cabin. The service begins on September 2, 2014.
They’ve also announced a similar promotion to the one Alaska is offering. Delta is offering double miles (both elite qualifying and redeemable) between select city pairs for travel booked by December 31, 2013, for travel through October 31, 2014. Registration is required prior to making the reservation, and the promotion is valid for travel from Seattle to Anchorage, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Portland.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this relationship progresses. It’s clear they’re no longer acting in good faith or partners by choice. Rather I think both airlines feel trapped. Delta can’t possibly provide feed to all of the places that Alaska serves out of Seattle and probably needs that feed to fill their international flights, while Alaska probably can’t afford to turn down all that traffic.
In the meantime it’s good news for us. I expect we’ll see some fare wars and lucrative promotions like the ones being offered by both carriers right now.