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Alaska, Delta to Cut Back Mileage Awards

When Delta finally announced its new-for-2015 earning rates for SkyMiles airline partners, last week, the most notable changes were those to Alaska Airlines.

Beginning next year, SkyMiles members flying on Alaska will earn significantly fewer base miles for discounted economy fares. Where program members currently earn 100 percent of the flown miles for all Alaska economy fares, next year their earnings will be downgraded as follows:

  • Economy (Y,S,B,M,H fares) earns 100% base miles
  • Economy (Q,L,V fares) earns 75% base miles
  • Economy (K,G,T,R fares) earns 50% base miles

So, the most-purchased coach fares will be earning fewer redeemable miles. Part of that downgrade is no doubt driven by the overall design of Delta’s new SkyMiles program, which strives to better align mileage earned with revenue generated. But a downgrade is a downgrade, and the two airlines’ intense “battle for Seattle” had to have played a part in deciding just how many of Alaska’s coach fares will earn sub-par credit.

Members of Alaska’s Mileage Plan flying on Delta will find their earnings reduced as well. In contrast to the current 100 percent of flown miles earned for all coach fares, next year’s earning rates will be as follows:

  • Economy (Y,S,B,M fares) earns 100% base miles
  • Economy (H,Q,K fares) earns 75% base miles
  • Economy (L,U,T,X fares) earns 50% base miles
  • Economy (E fares) earns 25% base miles

Once again, the most popular coach fares won’t earn as much as they do currently.

Given Delta’s recent incursions into Alaska’s hometown hub of Seattle, it’s no surprise that the longstanding relationship between the two airlines is unraveling. If anything, the surprise is that they continue cross-participating in each other’s mileage programs at all.

Whereas in most cases competition is a positive for consumers, this is a case where consumers are the losers. Beginning next year, members of both airlines’ programs will earn fewer miles than they currently earn for the same flights.

This article originally appeared on

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