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Delta and Alaska Airlines Are Breaking up Next Year

Dec. 19, 2016
3 min read
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Delta and Alaska Airlines Are Breaking up Next Year
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What a busy few days it's been for Alaska Airlines! Last Wednesday, Alaska Airlines finalized its merger with Virgin America — answering many of our questions in the process. Today, Alaska Airlines announced a slew of flyer-friendly changes to its Mileage Plan — both for earning and redeeming miles. Finally, unwilling to be the third wheel of the Alaska and Virgin America marriage, Delta has now announced its breakup from the new Alaska Airlines.

Current Alaska-Delta benefits. Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

Currently, Alaska and Delta have a codeshare agreement, a mileage-redemption agreement and reciprocal benefits for each other's elites. Alaska elites can get priority check-in and boarding, free upgrades and preferred seating on Delta. Delta Medallion Members get the same benefits on Alaska Airlines flights.

However, that's soon to end. According to a press release from Delta this morning, the two carriers will end their partnership effective May 1, 2017. This means you'll no longer be able to fly a Delta flight on an Alaska plane (i.e. codeshare agreement), you won't be able to redeem Delta miles for Alaska-operated flights and you won't get any benefits from being a Delta Medallion Member when traveling on Alaska. While Alaska Airlines hasn't released a statement about this breakup, we assume that the reverse will also be true. The ties aren't completely severed though; Alaska and Delta will maintain an interline agreement, allowing customers smoother ticketing and baggage connectivity.

Here's the breakdown of earning and redeeming SkyMiles on Alaska-operated flights. Image courtesy of Delta.

If you've already booked a codeshare flight post-May 1, you're going to be "grandfathered" into the current mileage-earning system. Delta notes that "SkyMiles Members will not be able to earn and redeem miles on flights operated by Alaska Airlines unless a ticket was purchased before Dec. 19, 2016."

Bottom Line

In some aspects, this breakup shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Delta and Alaska have been going at each other constantly over the last few years — with Delta downgrading Alaska as a partner, Delta adding more flights from Seattle and Delta going after flyers in Alaska's hometown of Seattle.

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However, as part of the Alaska-Virgin America merger, Alaska agreed to drop some codeshare agreements with American Airlines — not Delta. So, it seemed possible that Alaska and Delta were going to stay frenemies going forward. Or, maybe Delta was just stringing Alaska along.

In any case, the Alaska-Delta fight has been entertaining to watch over the past few years. Considering how Alaska and Delta treated each other as partners, we can only imagine how the gloves will come off after the breakup.

Are you saddened by this breakup?