The latest flare up in the battle for Seattle between incumbent Alaska Airlines and new contender Delta isn’t a rash of new routes or a discount on airfares. It’s a sale on award flights. And the sale is not for flights on Alaska, which is known for its periodic award discounts; the sale is Delta’s.
Through December 28, SkyMiles members can book Delta award flights between Seattle and select destinations for between 5,000 and 10,000 miles each way.
Award travel at the discounted rates must be completed between January 5 and March 16, 2016.
Deal or No Deal
With a two-week window to book, and a 10-week window to travel, this sale is eminently useable, unlike some flash sales that come and go so quickly that they generate more frustration than goodwill.
As for value, 5,000 miles each way for a short-haul award flight is a good price. But is it a discount? Since Delta no longer publishes award charts, and prices its awards at its own discretion, it’s unclear when an award price qualifies as a discount, versus simply a low price within a predetermined range. SkyMiles members will just have to take Delta’s word that these prices are discounted from what they would normally be.
They are certainly cheaper than the traditional domestic coach awards, which until recently were priced at 12,500 miles each way. But even United now features cheaper prices for shorter flights, as will American, when its new award pricing takes effect next year.
In any case, SkyMiles members who plan to travel from or to Seattle would do well to peruse the list of discounted award destinations. They might just find a good price, which is less important than whether it’s called a discount or a deal.
This is smart marketing on the part of Delta, whose SkyMiles program is notably less generous than Alaska’s Mileage Plan program in many respects. An award sale won’t change that perception in the long run, but it might help in the short term.
Reader Reality Check
SkyMiles or Mileage Plan: Which is more deserving of your loyalty?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.