Delta Cutting Alaska MVP Elite Benefits Effective May 1, 2014

by on March 26, 2014 · 25 comments

in Alaska, Delta

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One of the more interesting airline relationships to watch lately has been that of Delta and Alaska Airlines. While the two used to have a very close partnership, lately there has been more and more competition between them as Delta has muscled its way into Alaska’s traditional territory of the Pacific Northwest with a particular focus on Seattle. That has meant some great opportunities for double miles promos and various other bonuses, but it has also made flyers anxious that the two airlines could be ending their partnership imminently.


Well, it looks like the first step in the process has been taken with an announcement that Alaska has sent out to its MVP elites as well as this new page on its website about coming changes to their benefits when flying Delta.

Effective May 1, 2014, your benefits as an MVP will be changing when you fly on Delta. We’d like to take a moment to recap the changes you can expect to see, including an end to baggage fee waivers and Sky Priority Boarding. You’ll still continue to enjoy benefits like Complimentary Upgrades and Zone 1 Boarding as well as earning miles and redeeming them for award travel on Delta.”

Specifically, here’s what that means at each level. For regular MVP‘s (20,000 miles annually on Alaska or 25,000 on Alaska and partners):

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.20.30 AMSo as you can see, the specific benefits going away will be:

  • Checked Baggage Fee Waiver for First Bag
  • Priority Baggage Handling
  • 25% Discount on International Economy Comfort™ Seating

For MVP Gold (40,000 miles on Alaska or 50,000 on partners) and MVP Gold 75′s (75,000 on Alaska or 90,000 on partners):

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.22.27 AMSo their Delta-specific benefits that will go away are:

While Alaska elites will still get mileage bonuses, (lesser) priority check-in and boarding and complimentary upgrades, they won’t be getting free checked bags – a pretty basic elite status benefit! – or getting access to discounted Economy Comfort seating, and you won’t see them anymore in the SkyPriority lanes.

All in all, bad news for Alaska elites who fly on Delta, but also bad news for Delta Medallions who were thinking of switching loyalty to Alaska this year thanks to all the negative SkyMiles and Medallion program changes. However, it’s not the end of the world – Alaska MVP’s will still get those mileage bonuses, priority check-in and boarding and access to preferred seating as well as the same complimentary upgrades they’re entitled to now (and hey, thanks to Delta’s recent upgrade policy changes, Delta elites aren’t getting the same access to premium cabins either these days).

For me personally, this doesn’t change my elite status strategy, and I still plan to dump Delta this year, but it could change the calculus for Delta Medallions considering the switch to Alaska MVP. Are you in that situation? If so, how will this affect your loyalty strategy for 2014?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jerome Shaw

    As a regular flyer who is looking to gain milage and not necessarily fly first class but just to fly more for free, what airline would you suggest switching to? I have delta but all of these changes are making me feel like i will never win. The costs, the milage devaluation, and lack of customer appreciate is not working for me

  • Pazpeaceman

    TPG please reply here, but my 2 cents: if you live on the west coast AS is a no-brainer…if on the east coast AS also may be a no-brainer esp after the devals since you can earn miles and EQMs from DL and AA to AS and redeem on all 3 plus non-alliance partners.

  • Ed

    As a Delta Silver and Alaska MVP it will not change my mind. I still will credit all my flights to AS. In fact, I might just evade Delta even more. Because there is no way in hell I would accept the ultra low mileage earnings rate flying Delta as Silver medallion.

  • thepointsguy

    Alaska/AA is a strong combo- you can still fly Delta and bank to Alaska and same with AA. Alaska miles are among the most valuable out there.. that is what I’d do!

  • thepointsguy

    Agreed..Alaska is a strong choice because you can fly Delta/Alaska AND American and bank all into one and the miles are extremely valuable

  • mkm

    I am in the same boat as Ed this year, having status matched to Alaska in Early February – since then I have only been flying on my alaska number and actually from some international travel with British Airways and Qantas coming up I will have MVP Gold through to 2016 by the end of May – I am probably going to try for gold 75k in the later part of the year. The last of my major flights with delta are in April so I should be ok and have begun to purchase on American using the MVP benefits. I’ll still have a few flights on Delta this summer but nothing major so I shouldn’t have to worry about baggage, but I think I am through purchasing delta flights unless I absolutely must.

    TPG – I actually took a cue from you when I saw your redemption on emirates with alaska miles a few months back – I am looking forward to booking my own award tickets with them!

  • Ben Price

    You bank your AA miles to Alaska? I understand with DL, no brainer…but trying to qualify for AA status is important.

  • Darth Chocolate

    As if you coudnot see this coming a mile away. It will indeed be interesting if (or when) Delta buys Alaska. All is progressing as I have forseen.

  • Jerome Shaw

    Thanks a lot.

  • Kathy S

    This explains a lot. I recently booked a one way from ATL->LAX->HNL in May on Delta banking miles to Alaska, where I recently status matched my DL GM to MVP Gold. I noticed Sky Priority and my upgrade requests still turned up, but it seemed very clear that I would have to pay to check bags (which I won’t need to do, but it still seemed weird), and while they auto-assigned me to preferred seats, when I tried to move them around it noted I’d be charged if I moved to a different preferred seat. That last part is still weird, but I’m guessing the system is a bit wonky given that the changes occur right around the time I’ll be flying. I’m also assuming I’ll drop off the upgrade list for the LAX->HNL leg given the verbiage above.
    I probably would have been Platinum with DL this year but plan to just fly enough to get Gold again and then bank everything else to AS even in light of the above changes. The miles are just way more valuable given the 2015 DL nonsense.

  • Guest

    Very disappointing news considering I booked a May 9th flight on Delta, that was slightly more expensive than a competitor, as the 2 free bags earned with Alaska Gold would more than make up for the fare difference. A more costly flight just got that much more expensive…wonderful! Thanks Delta!

  • Mike Smith

    Believe me, after all the strong-arming that Delta has done, I’d love to see that move – would start a letter-writing campaign to Congress and the FTC which Delta hasn’t seen the likes of. Hate that airline now.

  • Bart verbeke

    As Delta Diamond based in ATL, I will wait and see till end of the year. Have a feeling more changes are on the way in the co-operation between Alaska and Delta. As this year I still earn the ‘old fashioned’ way my miles, no need for me to rush and change. In fact I get more bonus miles on Delta at the moment than when I would switch today to Alaska.

  • DubZ

    I’m at nearly 20,000 miles with Delta, is it worth my time to get up to 25,000 miles or sign up for Alaska’s plan and start banking my miles there? What can I do w/my current Delta miles?

  • Pazpeaceman

    Well starting next year you can do 1 way awards…and you can always do mileage upgrades (k class or higher, usually clears immediately)

  • Thomas

    Tough being in Portland with DL Platinum that flies Alaska metal fairly often to CA and other western markets. I almost always have product samples with me that requires checking bags, so having the Alaska/DL combo really helped keep our costs constrained. This will require some though on how to best handle now and I may need to stay with Delta, regardless if their overly complex and moronic new system that really just punishes the 80% to 95% revenue percentile like me (BTW – I spent 9k on Delta tix last year).

  • syncomm11

    Laughable that Alaska MVPs can still be eligible for Delta upgrades. As a Delta phone rep told me, being an Alaska MVP puts you in the queue, below the Delta Silver medallions…and you know how often they clear the upgrade list.
    Delta is clearly repositioning itself as “the” airline for high volume business flyers, so if you do not fit that profile, time to go.

  • Koanit

    Delta are really being a bunch of jerks. Yet another reason to bail on them…. how does ending their partnership with Alaska (which is obviously what they’re eventually doing) help any consumer?

  • Tiffany

    Wow thanks for this Brian. I guess I was just hoping it wouldn’t come to this. I am a Delta Platinum and AA Gold flier but primarily fly economy to Africa for business on KLM, AirFrance or BA. When Delta changed their program, it was an easy choice to get match status and switch to Alaska so I can earn miles on any of them. I just took my first flight to Mozambique collecting AS miles on Air France metal and realized that I could still access the lounge and go through the priority lanes at CDG with my Delta Platinum card, which will be a nice benefit until that expires in February. This change to MVP benefits does make me nervous as to whether or not AS will keep KLM/AF as a partner if they drop Delta but I know the value of my miles is so much better with AS so I am going to stick it out this year and see how the cards fall.

  • KM Ford

    As an Alaska MVP who probably flies Delta for 60% of my miles, the changes Delta is making next year already had me thinking about alternatives. The luggage charge just pushes me toward American even sooner. Now if the incorporation of US Air would move along faster so all those North-South flights on the East coast would be a part of the Alaska eligible network!

  • Daniel Saarinen

    As a west coast based DL Platinum that does international flights in business class, I am still going to Alaska MVP Gold. With a business class ticket I don’t get hit by the baggage or lack of sky priority from the MVP Gold downgrade from DL. The value of the AS miles and the AS partners is great enough that it makes sense for me to bank them there despite this attack from DL. My only worry is that DL completely ends their relationship with AS this year before I can re-qualify MVP Gold or 75k. I have 4 system wide upgrades to get through this year on DL and I want to credit the flights to AS. If that break happens, I will have to go with AA as my primary domestic carrier to qualify for next year. If AF and KLM drop out as well, then that really changes things. Might have to do a status challenge to UA Platinum despite the negative stuff happening there as UA will be relatively better than DL with their redemption and the credit card earning ability from the variety of Chase products is good. One long business flight round trip from Dubai to California in Business will beat the challenge as Platinum for UA.

  • Erik Nordheim

    You still get your bags free since your ticket was purchased before 4/30/2014.

  • JD

    Hi, I’m a United 1K who flies to Australia and Europe often. I’m relocating to an area that is Alaska heavy – the nearest UAL airport is 90 min away – while I can get an Alaska flight in our regional airport 5 min away. I like the upgrades (especially systemwide) that I get with UAL. Would it be worth matching to Alaska?

  • Sunil Rao

    As an Alaska MVP member I have never gotten a single upgrade on Delta. So its not going to happen…every time I see my name on the upgrade list and then watch it fall to the bottom it just adds to my frustration.

  • syncomm11

    I think anyone w business sense would flee Delta. And yes, being on a list that never leads to anything is worse than not being in the list. I am returning on Alaska from Honolulu this afternoon and got an upgrade to Seattle. Delta’s unfriendly policies to their loyal flyers will come back to bite them. At least I hope so!

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