Even in the midst of the very public, very acrimonious slugfest between Alaska Airlines and Delta, the two airlines have so far maintained their reciprocal frequent-flyer program relationship: members of Alaska’s Mileage Plan can earn and redeem miles for Delta flights; and Delta SkyMiles members can earn and redeem miles for flights on Alaska.
But that marketing tie-up is being gradually dissolved, beginning with the recent announcement that reciprocal elite benefits will be cut back starting on May 1.
The next step in that dissolution begins on May 6, when Mileage Plan members will have to spend more miles for many award flights on Delta.
Among the award-price increases:
- U.S. transcontinental and Canada business/first awards will increase from 50,000 to 65,000 miles.
- Coach flights to Hawaii will increase from 40,000 to 45,000 miles.
- Business Elite awards to Europe will increase from 100,000 to 125,000 miles.
- Coach flights to Asia will increase from 60,000 to 80,000 miles.
- Business Elite flights to Asia will increase from 120,000 to 140,000 miles.
Normally, the partner airline—Delta, in this case—is responsible for setting its award prices in another airline’s program. If so, these increases can be interpreted as a move by Delta to undermine the value of its award offerings in Mileage Plan, and by extension the value of Alaska’s program overall. That’s certainly the effect of the changes, however they occurred.
The tat in this tit-for-tat would be Alaska upping prices for its award flights in Delta’s program. So far, that hasn’t happened.
And of course the final step would be an outright termination of the two airlines’ bilateral relationship. That’s almost certain to happe—it’s a question of when, not if.
Reader Reality Check
Do the upcoming changes in Delta’s award prices affect your relationship with Alaska and the Mileage Plan program?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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