Delta announces Seattle expansion, Alaska sits quietly and nods

A couple of hours ago I shared my excitement about an enhanced partnership between Alaska and Delta that was supposed to be announced today. The timing of the announcement is a bit ironic since Alaska’s computers are down and none of their planes are moving at the moment.

Nonetheless the announcement occurred, and it’s a bit puzzling to me. The changes are as follows:

  • Proposed new nonstop Delta service between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Shanghai Pu Dong International Airport, pending approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • Proposed new nonstop Delta service between Seattle and Haneda Airport in Tokyo, pending DOT approval.
  • The deployment of Delta’s flagship Boeing 747-400 jet on flights between Seattle and Narita Airport in Tokyo, featuring a fully upgraded interior with full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite, individual in-flight entertainment in every seat throughout the aircraft, expanded overhead bins and other amenities.
  • Newly upgraded Boeing 767-300 aircraft on Delta’s flights between Seattle and Paris, Beijing and Osaka, Japan, also offering full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite and upgraded amenities.
  • Additional nonstop Delta service between Seattle and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
  • Upgraded BusinessElite service on all Delta Seattle-JFK flights to match the product and amenities of Delta’s JFK service from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • Sea-Tac airport improvements including a new Delta Sky Club, new power ports throughout Delta’s facilities, expanded ticket counters, lobby renovations and other improvements.
  • An ongoing partnership between Delta and Alaska that includes codesharing in Seattle and shared customer benefits including reciprocal lounge access and frequent flier programs.

So to summarize, Delta is flying sexier planes to Seattle (though I assume this will decrease our chances at upgrades), building a new SkyClub even though their current one is just a year old, flying a nicer plane to Tokyo Narita, and trying to talk the DOT into additional routes.

Where Alaska fits into all this is beyond me, though. Admittedly Delta will want the feeder traffic from Alaska, but this is definitely an effort on the part of Delta, and they just wanted Alaska to sit there and look pretty as they made the announcement.

I can’t decide if this makes me more or less likely to go for status with Delta. On one hand the premium transcontinental service is awesome, though on the other hand I assume it’ll have a pretty negative impact on upgrade percentages.

Filed Under: Alaska, Delta
  1. I sincerely doubt that you will see a drastic decline in seats available for UPG to/from JFK as DL mostly seems to fly 738s between the two airports with a spattering of 757s. Just don’t expect the upgrade until the gate day of departure.

    SEA really is a tough upgrade however. I consistently see three to four pages of elites on the days i fly in and out of there looking for an upg. As a GM, i basically look for an exit seat and a few drink coupons. Works well for me. Good luck either way and congrats on the upcoming move!

  2. The way I see it is “are they going to poach/begin transferring the Asian routes from DTW?” Would make for shorter trips and Seattle makes more sense as an Asian gateway and to connect to the rest of the US esp w. Alaska.

  3. @ Euro — Agree. Seattle is the most logical gateway to Asia, rather than having passengers fly eastbound before flying westbound. Kind of surprised no other US longhaul airline has a hub there given how efficient it is.

  4. Hmm, is this enough to warrant a move from UA? Lack of good Asia access as an Alaska Air elite was one of the big negatives. Non stop to PVG for me would be sweet. Would need really good cross program recognition…. E.g. true equal status recognition/upgrades. Whats the plan in that regard?

  5. Is it possible to do a SDC on a DL codeshare AS operated flight? This opens up a whole lot of oppty for West Coast-NYC flights.

  6. It goes both ways. Good for DL in that there will be solid feeder traffic onto the intl routes. Good for AS in that their pax (and hopefully new pax) now have new/additional options for intl routes.

  7. @ dmodemd — If you value nonstop service more than anything else perhaps, but keep in mind if you’re flying internationally you won’t be getting upgrades unless you book Y/B/M fares. I’d rather connect and pay cheap fares to Asia than fly nonstop and pay three times as much, though to each their own.

    @ JetAway — I quite enjoy it!

    @ Ken Y. — I don’t believe so, I think it has to be Delta metal.

    @ DiscoPapa — True, but I’m not sure what “enhancement” Alaska is announcing here. It seems to totally be on Delta’s side of things.

  8. I believe the poorly worded press release merely intends to highlight the recently opened SkyClub, not to suggest that another will be built.

  9. I don’t understand why any self-respecting mileage lover would ever want to fly delta. Unless of course they like flying in Y internationally, don’t want to fly international F on miles and don’t have much use of the miles they collect.

  10. If everyone thought of the upgrade of services as if Northwest were doing it then you would think it would be ok; maybe Delta doing the up gauging doesn’t sound right.

  11. Is it conceivable DL would open a second Sky Club in SEA? From 2005-2008 DL operated two clubs at BOS, and SEA will have six long haul international flights stranger things re: DL clubs have happened.

  12. I qualified for DL Plat this year (so this will last till end of 2013), how can I leverage this into a status match (not a paid challenge)? I’m sure there are other DL flyers in this situation.

  13. @ Ken Y. — With another airline? Well you can match to United Platinum to the best of my knowledge with a challenge (not paid, but rather you have to fly a certain amount in a certain period of time). You could also match to Alaska, though I guess it depends on what you’re looking for.

  14. DL needs AS for connecting traffic to feed its international flights at SEA. DL only flies to its own hubs from SEA, while AS must have ~100 destinations from SEA. Assuming that the fare split is reasonable, then AS profits from the connections, too. I think AS quoted that AS & DL connect 1200 pax/day at SEA. If that’s from 5 international destinations, that’s 120/flight, so a very sizable number.

    However I think a big flaw in the program for frequent flyers is the weak reciprocal elite benefits. If you credit to AS, you are essentially a nobody when you fly on DL, below their Silvers; while if you credit to DL, you are a nobody on AS, below MVP. It would make a huge difference if they could come up with a meaningful reciprocal elite program

    Also, I wish DL would have 1-way awards like everyone elso does

  15. It would be great if all Delta flights serve the biscoff cookies not just on the selective flights. šŸ˜‰

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