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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?

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