Delta Air Lines’ Huge Summer Alaska Expansion

Filed Under: Delta

During the pandemic, airlines have had to completely rework their approach to route planning, given how the demand for travel has shifted. The good news is that with the current vaccination timeline in the US, travel should very much be possible this summer, especially domestically.

We’re seeing airlines update their schedules to reflect that. In the case of Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta-based airline has just announced a huge expansion to the state of Alaska this summer, which is worth highlighting.

Delta’s big summer schedule to Alaska

Delta Air Lines has just added a bunch of new flights to its schedule for travel this summer to Alaska. This includes the launch of new routes, as well as additional frequencies in existing markets. In total, Delta will fly to five Alaskan destinations. Let’s go over the details.

Delta is planning a lot of Alaska service this summer

Delta’s service to Anchorage

Delta’s expanded service to Anchorage (ANC) includes the following:

  • As of May 5, 2021, a daily flight from Atlanta (ATL), which will continue into the fall with three weekly frequencies; this will be operated by a Boeing 767-300ER, featuring flat beds in business class (this is Delta’s only flat bed service to Alaska)
  • As of May 5, 2021, a third daily flight from Minneapolis (MSP)
  • As of May 5, 2021, a new year-round nonstop flight from Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • As of May 28, 2021, a new weekend service from Detroit (DTW), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York (JFK)
  • As of June 18, 2021, up to seven daily year-round flights from Seattle (SEA)
  • As of June 19, 2021, a second daily summer seasonal flight from Salt Lake City (SLC)

Delta’s summer schedule to Anchorage

Delta’s service to Fairbanks

Delta will offer six daily nonstop flights to Fairbanks (FAI) from major hubs this summer, including the following:

  • As of May 5, 2021, daily nonstop flights from Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • As of June 19, 2021, a third daily nonstop flights from Seattle (SEA)
  • As of June 19, 2021, a second daily nonstop flight from Minneapolis (MSP)

Previously Delta’s only year-round flight to Fairbanks was out of Seattle, while Minneapolis and Salt Lake City service will be extended to year-round as well.

Delta’s summer schedule to Fairbanks

Delta’s service to Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka

Delta will offer summer seasonal flights from Seattle (SEA) to three additional cities in Alaska, which will start Memorial Day weekend and go through the end of September. This includes:

  • A daily Seattle (SEA) to Juneau (JNU) flight with a Boeing 737-800
  • A daily Seattle (SEA) to Ketchikan (KTN) flight with an Embraer E175
  • A daily Seattle (SEA) to Sitka (SIT) flight with an Embraer 175

Delta’s summer schedule to other Alaskan destinations

Bottom line

While Delta has offered a significant amount of service to Alaska for quite a while, the airline is taking it to the next level with this latest expansion. Delta isn’t the only airline doing interesting stuff in Alaska this summer — American will fly a 787-9 to Anchorage, while United will operate an intra-Alaska route, from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

It’s fascinating to see how the pandemic has impacted airline route planning, and the next few months should lead to a lot more interesting routes. It’s clear travel will make a comeback in the coming months, though odds are that the focus will be more on domestic travel rather than international travel. I can’t wait to see what else is added.

What do you make of Delta’s summer expansion to Alaska?

  1. I love it. As an Alaska resident it makes travelling much more affordable. Just having competition on the ANC-SEA lowers flight prices to locations across the lower 48.

  2. Super cool, though I’m surprised you mentioned this “huge” DL expansion but didn’t write anything about AA’s AUS expansion yesterday. I was expecting to hear something about that from you!

  3. Honestly nothing too crazy here, especially compared to S19.

    ATL-ANC has been around for a while in the summer; it’s been a mix of 757-200s and 767-300 (Domestics), with the 763s having had this route quite a bit in recent times. With Europe still looking like it will be a fraction of S19, its easy enough to throw a 763 on this route.

    MSP-ANC in the past has had up to 4x 757s/day a decade ago, and MSP-FAI was at 2x 757/day in the summer back then as well. Granted, DL/NW didn’t have anything from SEA at the time.

    SLC-ANC/FAI and LAX-ANC have been done by Delta throughout various times; SLC-ANC went away once the SEA hub started its build; I always thought it was a short-sighted move to not run at least a 737 SLC-ANC in summer.

    SEA-JNU/KTN/SIT have been done as summer seasonals for a while as well; this is simply the continuation of S19 service.

    The biggest adds here are JFK/DTW-ANC, both of which I think will do fine.

  4. there are no cruises so they need to fill the void somehow.

    once spirit eventually starts service to anchorage, prices will go down. flights are very expensive to anchorage for this summer from NYC

  5. So happy to see that our third airline multibillion dollar bailout in 12 months will faciliate this dramatic increase in capacity at a time when flights aren’t anywhere near full.

    Our tax dollars hard at work.

  6. Very happy for a non-stop JFK route. So hard to come by.

    Now let’s see if we can really hit the jackpot and have them do a skymiles flash sale…

  7. That’s a huge amount of capacity for a state with a population of only 740k people. The county I live in has more people than that and we don’t even have an airport!

  8. A lot of capacity, in a market that is fueled by cruises, which won’t be happening this summer. Alaska is not the type of place you fly and drive easily. I suspect more than half these routes will end earlier than the season.

  9. I guess no one cares much about Austin. I’m with lucky on this one, alaska is exciting and Austin is now.

    Same reason Lucky is not reporting that Pensacola and St Louis are becoming new big destinations for spirit. Not everything gets a post, alaska is post worthy.

  10. I see the Atlanta Anchorage nonstop but I don’t see any New York to Anchorage nonstop’s, either on the Delta website or on any of the search engines. Any tips on how to find those?

    I also see that Eastern Airlines flight New York to Anchorage for as little as $100. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea that Eastern Airlines was operating!

  11. I do see that Delta has flights from New York to Anchorage in May for $100 with a stop in Minneapolis!

  12. As someone that went to Alaska last year and heard how much the people of Alaska want tourists, I am glad that Delta is giving those good people what they want.
    I still would like to see Congress temporarily relax the requirement that Alaska cruises begin or end in Canada.
    As for those that clearly want to discuss American in Austin, as of this month and for the last several months, Delta has been the second largest airline in Austin for several months.
    Delta reportedly obtained preferential use for several new gates in Austin which is why they committed to building a massive SkyClub for a non-hub city. Nothing stops AA from expanding – but even their proposed schedules do not return all of what they flew pre-covid. If Delta reportedly gained more gates than American through preferential use, there is no real threat to either’s expansion; in AA’s case, they just have to accommodate their growth within their allowable gates.
    As for Alaska, Delta has long been the 2nd largest airline there behind Alaska – and Delta’s strength has been to other than the west coast. Their expansion is clearly targeted at doing what AS and AA hoped to do together.

    Don’t be surprised to see more of the same in AA-B6 markets.

  13. I am an Alaskan, and used to be a frequent traveler. I have been expecting Delta to be increasing capacity to the state as a response to Alaska joining the OneWorld Alliance. Alaskans travel a lot, and although travel volumes are down, I expect that mail will be filling excess belly space to provide some additional revenue.

  14. @Izz I don’t know if Spirit adding flights to LAS, LAX, FLL, MCO, and PNS makes St. Louis a “big destination”. Most of those flights are already to huge Spirit bases. The Florida Panhandle and Gulf Shores, AL have become huge spring break and summer destinations for people from STL/the Midwest in recent years and have historically been underserved by airlines. LAX had somewhat low capacity from STL. There were only two daily AA A319 flights and I believe two daily WN flights.

  15. Really happy about the Alaska flights. Don’t understand why Delta dropped Nashville as a focus city. Makes no sense as people are moving daily from west coast to Tennessee. Much growth in industries there.

  16. I would love to go to Alaska again, in fact, was supposed to go last year. However, there is no way I (and many) will be going wearing a mask for the hours and hours necessary.

    There will be a boom, but if and only if masks ever go away.

  17. @Tim Dunn
    There’s no requirement that Alaska cruises have a port of call in Canada. Cruise liners are free to do exclusively American ports, but if and only if the ship is registered in the US and fully staffed by American citizens

  18. @John
    I think you answered why there are no US only Alaska cruises. And the Alaska representatives have asked for an exemption.
    Absent that, there are no shortage of intra-Alaska options which will happen this summer.


  20. The Jones Act, as well as protecting US shipping companies, protects US airlines from foreign competition on domestic routes.

  21. ATL-ANC is not an expansion. DL has been flying this route for sometime.

    @shoeguy – It seems you have never driven in Ak. It is as easy to drive there as any other US states. In fact roads are full of RVs and rental cars. Also, roads are so good that many states shall be embarrassed by the quality of their roads.

  22. It’s good to see airlines working to remake themselves for the post-pandemic world instead of being timid and hibernating.

  23. As a lodge owner in Seward Alaska ,over the last couple weeks our bookings have exploded. We are a cruise port but has not effected our business. I have to say that if you truly want to see Alaska…fly in and rent a car. Our governor has discontinued the testing prior to arrival in Alaska.

  24. Jfk-anc on non delta one equipment feels like torture and a wasted opportunity. 4000 miles with a headwind going west. Not a fun ride in coach or in a domestic first class seat.

  25. We were lucky enough to go in June 2020, Negative PCR test and all. We had the place to ourselves; Talkteena, Denali & The Kenai Peninsula by car. Locals told us how lucky we are to experience it without the summer cruise crowds. We were blown away with the State and hoped to go back this summer and check out a different part. June was early days after the state opened up, 30 folks on our DL 737-900 to SEA and about 50 from SEA to ANC as the ATL nonstop did not run then.

  26. @Tim Dunn

    Please don’t make up statistics. Even with DL’s supposed focus city, AA has consistently been 65-75% larger than DL at AUS. Even UA has consistently been 50% larger. A carrier without a Texas hub with find it difficult to make inroads in Austin.

  27. As a Alaska resident and a Delta Million Miler it’s great having the new flights. My only wish is that Delta would start non-stop flights to Hawaii. Delta did for a short time after buying Western Airlines.

  28. According to this month’s schedules, Delta is the second largest carrier at Austin.
    And whatever AA or anyone else wants to do at Austin depends on gates.
    It is very likely that the reason why Delta dropped BNA as a focus city is because the airport is not expected to have any growth gates for any carrier for years.
    Delta reportedly gained preferential gate access at AUS which is very likely they 1. made it a focus city and 2. aren’t going to be impacted by what AA does because AA, like every other carrier, has gate capacity limits. and 3. Most of AA’s new routes are competitive with WN, not DL. There is a good chance that WN will be the one that needs to step up capacity as long as they have gates.

    meanwhile, Delta’s Alaska expansion is showing up in schedules and involves a 40% increase in flights and seats and a nearly 50% increase in ASMs.
    Delta is the 2nd largest major carrier in Alaska for this summer based on current schedules, just over twice the size of AS in ASMs, 3x larger than United and more than 2X larger than American.

    And Alaska is conducive to red-eye flying which means they can stretch their fleet further.

  29. As a Colorado native, I am happy to read this as maybe more tourists will visit Alaska and bypass Colorado. Visit Alaska!

  30. Delta doesn’t block flights.
    For the month of March, Delta is operating more flights from Austin than all other airlines except for Southwest.
    I’m not sure why you want to keep pursuing the AUS discussion. Ben chose to write about Alaska. I don’t know why he didn’t discuss AA’s AUS expansion but I noted the reasons why it really isn’t relevant to Delta.
    AUS comes down to gate capacity for each airline.
    Delta had the least amount of gates at AUS before the concourse extension was built and said it got access to preferential gates so that it has as many gates – maybe more – than other airlines.
    Unless AA also gained gate space somehow, they either weren’t operating their AUS gates to capacity or won’t be bringing back all of their flights – other than SJC.

    AUS can handle all of the capacity any airline throws at it given how quickly the area is growing and given that the concourse will be full anyway.

    Meanwhile, Delta is adding service to Alaska – which is what Ben wrote about.

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