Delta Retaliates Against American In Seattle

Filed Under: American, Delta

This doesn’t come as any surprise whatsoever, but it seems like Delta is responding to the new pact between Alaska and American as you’d expect they would, with everything short of a flight to Bangalore

Alaska & American are strengthening ties

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Alaska Airlines and American Airlines will be strengthening their partnership.

This comes as Alaska is expected to join the oneworld alliance in 2021, and American is expected to add two international routes out of Seattle, to Bangalore and London.

Loosely speaking, I’d say this development comes as a result of Alaska and American having had enough:

  • Alaska isn’t happy that Delta has invaded their territory in Seattle over the past several years
  • American isn’t happy that Delta is investing in LATAM, causing LATAM to cut ties with American
  • American realizes they have to do something to improve their competitive situation, which is why they’re trying a bunch of new things

This entire situation very much seems to be a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The same is true for American’s new partnership with Qatar Airways.

Alaska Airlines is joining the oneworld alliance

Delta announces big Seattle expansion

This doesn’t come as a surprise, but Delta Air Lines is adding all kinds of new service out of Seattle, clearly as a competitive response to the Alaska & American situation. What all is happening?

Delta adding Seattle to London flight

American is adding a daily Seattle to London flight in 2021, in addition to British Airways’ up to two daily flights (the two airlines have a joint venture).

In 2021 Delta will be adding a daily flight between Seattle and London Heathrow, in addition to Virgin Atlantic’s up to two daily flights (the two airlines have a joint venture).

If both sets of partners follow through on these, that means we’re looking at up to six daily flights between Seattle and London Heathrow in 2021 (not including Norwegian’s flight to London Gatwick). Wow…

Now, I’d argue Delta isn’t being totally honest in their press release, as they say:

“The service also complements partner Virgin Atlantic’s twice-daily service and offers customers the choice of three daily flights.”

The reality is that Virgin Atlantic only operates a second flight seasonally, and it’s not even daily.

If Delta does in fact follow through with this flight, it means Delta will have 10 international destinations from Seattle.

Delta will fly from Seattle to London starting in 2021

Delta launching Seattle to Dallas service

While there are a bunch of new and expanded routes, I think this one is specifically worth calling out — Delta will launch 3x daily flights between Seattle and Dallas as of the summer of 2020, using Airbus A220s.

This is clearly intended to specifically target American, given their big hub in DFW.

Delta A220 first class

Other expanded Delta service from Seattle

In addition to the DFW route, as of June 2020, Delta will also offer new nonstop flights from Seattle to Columbus.

Then there will be expanded service to the following 12 destinations, which already have existing service:

  • Anchorage
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boise
  • Boston
  • Bozeman
  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Orlando
  • Spokane
  • Tampa
  • Washington Dulles

Delta notes that 70% of flights from Seattle will be on mainline aircraft, offering seat back entertainment and Wi-Fi.

With all of this expansion, by summer of 2020 Delta will offer 190 daily departures to 56 destinations from Seattle.

Unlike American, Delta doesn’t have a war on TVs

Bottom line

It’s not at all surprising to see Delta announce a Seattle expansion, given the expanded partnership between Alaska and American.

I’m skeptical about whether or not Delta and Virgin Atlantic will actually offer up to 3x daily flights between Seattle and London in 2021. For that matter, I’m kind of surprised that Delta didn’t just announce a Seattle to Bangalore flight, even if they didn’t necessarily fully plan on following through with it.

What do you make of Delta’s Seattle expansion?

  1. “Delta notes that 70% of flights from Seattle will be on mainline aircraft, offering seat back entertainment and wifi.”

    Almost like these things make you competitive @AA

  2. The Seattle to DFW is puzzling to me. They have no connection options out of DFW and no partner airline to feed it out of DFW. American has Alaskan in SEA to feed and DFW home base. I think American really took Delta by surprise with alliance to Alaskan (and alaskan joining one world) and I think Delta was really arrogant in dissing Alaskan. Much akin to how American was shaken by LATAM.

  3. This extra competition will be great for Seattle residents, but what I’d really like to see is Delta expand the number of flights/destinations from Washington D.C., specifically Dulles airport.

    IAD is a large international airport, and United (mostly) has it to themselves as a hub. Delta has expanded its presence in Boston and Seattle, why not D.C./Virginia?

  4. @Luke DC is on the list of expansions, specifically IAD.

    Also Richard is right, Norwegian flies seasonally to LGW.

  5. For the first time in their self-claimed superiority era, DL is being pressured in a market. Minor hard or soft product difference aside, the network coverage and scale of integration by AS & AA is overwhelming enough for DL, even in US-SEA-LHR-Beyond DL has VS while AA has BA and AS.

  6. Nice to see Delta feeling some pressure, for a change. While Delta is a cut above AA and UA across the board in many ways, it also manipulates the industry in very subtle ways that have made flying even more unpleasant. Delta will take a bath on TPAC routes (it has very weak partnerships there) and that will put the Seattle gateway at risk of significant profitability through the COVID-19 situation. As for SEA-LHR, DL ceded the route to VS a few years ago because the product on the 767 was not suited for the tech business travelers who use the route. They’ve improved it substantially yes, but adding another SEA-LHR frequency seems like a very un-Delta move. The verdict is still out on AA’s moves there, but the partnership with AS is a massive game changer and should the industry enter a sustained downturn, an AA/AS merger isn’t out of the question.

  7. Wouldn’t it be COOL to see JAL drop AA and OW and do a joint venture with DL now that they will be the largest carrier at HND while AA has almost nothing on their metal to Tokyo? AA is a seriously declining Brand while DL has made great strides in Profitability and Customer Quality.

  8. Ben please stop over egging your headlines. You aren’t a cheap news site needing to grab readers with sensational headlines.

    Retaliation implies some sort of legal action when all DL has done is react to a commercial threat by increasing it’s own services.

    It’s the way the market works. Either they will eventually reduce their offering from SEA or American will or Alaska will. Or a combination of all three airlines scaling back slightly as the market settles.

  9. DL has billboards all over Portland saying theirs is the “only” direct flight to LHR even though BA starts up year-round daily service June 1 and DL’s is seasonal.

  10. I don’t understand why Delta just doesn’t add SEA-Bangalore. Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India and Seattle is also hugely tech focused so they seem like a perfect city pair.

  11. I don’t know why 6-7 daily flights from SEA is that surprising; the market can clearly (in my view) support it, especially if there’s a dynamic similar to Buffalo where many Canadians will drive down to take advantage of cheaper flights

  12. @ChrisC – “Retaliation” does not imply legal action to me or the dictionary. In this context it would appear to mean harming others you consider to have harmed yourself.

    No need to find fault in everything.

  13. @ralf Do you have a pic of the nonsense billboard?

    Free idea for BA (and AS):

    Other Airlines promote their “only” flight to London.
    We Fly, nonstop, year-round.

    British Airways, To Fly To Serve.
    (Eskimo smiling in the corner)

  14. With Delta’s lack of the 787, they do not have an aircraft that can fly Seattle to Bangalore. the A350 is too big, the 777 uses too much fuel.

  15. Delta has previously operated a London–Heathrow flight from Seattle on its own aircraft. It eliminated that flight for Virgin Atlantic, which presumably has a lower operating cost.

    And adding a flight to Columbus means it looks like Columbus will get a Sky Club. Delta already has a good number of flights to and from Columbus but no Sky Club.

  16. BEST THING AMERICAN CAN DO ….To bring back custermer sand since they are partners again …….bring back earning mile for mile like Alaska still does …. I think that would bring a lot of people back including me …. what do you think Ben ?

  17. I seriously doubt that Delta will be able to do all of this out of SEA. SEA is constrained in terms of landing slots and gates. There are flights that are on one – two hour ATC holds to SEA because of runway constraints. There is current construction in concourse D but that will take some time to complete. SEA is currently parking aircraft at remote parking stations and using shuttle buses to get to and from the gate and the aircraft.

  18. @Tony – A330neo.

    @John – not happening. DL already tried and failed to woo JAL over to their camp. That’s why they went to KE. And arguably KE and ICN is in a better place than JAL and HND/NRT for all but origin/destination flights.

  19. @ChrisC here. This is the definition. Lucky was perfectly okay to use retaliates in this sense “ the action of harming someone because they have harmed oneself; revenge.”—in this case it can also be something.

  20. As far as Dallas goes, I am kind of surprised Delta did not add this earlier. Yes, there is a back and forth war between AA and Delta. But as an actively growing hub, and as their supposed gateway to Asia, I found it odd that they did not have a direct flight from SEA to Dallas. DFW is the fourth busiest airport in the country, and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington is usually considered the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country. In addition to AA, there are also flights on Alaska, Spirit and Southwest to the Dallas area (WN to DAL, of course). Regarding the DL-AA feud, or whatever you want to call it, I am a little surprised they did not add a SEA-MIA flight.

  21. In some ways Delta has been trying to recover the PNW coverage that it merged with Western Airlines for. It subsequently spent many years after that exiting that very coverage and market share abrogating it to AS for whatever reasons.

  22. I wish Delta would bring back the Seattle to Edmonton flight. They canceled it in March. I am a weekly flier of that route and had to switch back to Alaska. I had 3 employees on that route as well. I much prefer Delta to Alaska

  23. Columbus flier here.

    Not only is it a middle finger to AS it will also be run better likely as the AS CMH-SEA is almost always late.

    Also I have heard CMH will get a SkyClub once the CMH-AMS flight is approved. They might wait until the new airport is built which isn’t supposed to be done until 2030.

    Rather have an admirals club but I’ll take anything in CMH. The city is booming and our airport is fairly undersized for the market.

  24. As a “free flyer” on AA, I have actually paid for a RT PHX-SEA-ANC cheaper on DL than my 20% off lowest fare for positice space on AA. Now that AA does not fly direct to ANC from PHX anymore, I can see myself paying to fly DL rather than flying standby on AA for free. AA/AS is not free and more difficult to pull off with bag fees and not having a clear connection with benefits and whatnot. In essence, even having the option of a free or very deep discount on AA/AS, DL is more convenient for the price. Delta trying to reclaim some of their “Northwest” airlines routes has been cooking for years, the battle is on and will really open up some new fares for everyone.

  25. “Unlike American, Delta doesn’t have a war on TVs”. Teehee, that’s funny.

    Also, do you think Delta + AF-KLM will look into signing an agreement or two with Vistara now that the fall of Jet has got the former picking up the slacks?

  26. I’m glad to see DL not replicate AA exactly with a flight to India from Seattle. That would look weak being a total copy cat. That’s what AA typically does.

  27. Scared of what American / OneWorld will do to Alaska. Specifically, I worry about Alaska’s awesome loyalty program. If that changes (and it can only change for the worse), I’ll have to go Ronin.

  28. I’ve already benefited from
    DL’s expanded SEA service; I just bought four tickets to AUS on one of their new A220 flights in Dec for $257 rt each (main cabin). That’s the least I’ve ever paid for a nonstop in the 10+ years.

  29. Oooh, this catfight is getting good…and then we will see Delta go at it against United at IAD?

    One can only hope this will be good for the consumer.

  30. This is most probably DL dropping summer seasonal PDX-LHR for Summer 2021 and moving it back to SEA-LHR (where it started). BA will be year-round and in all likelihood become daily, especially with AS feed; so time for DL to pack up.

    The same could happen with the PDX-TYO flight. The difference here is the DL’s route is to HND and it is not easy for JL to launch, unless they drop the HND flight for another route.

  31. Two things!
    1. Alaska should not team up with an inferior airline like American.
    2. The 787 doesn’t recirculate cabin air. I love Delta but they missed the boat. Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic both fly 787’s SEA to LHR.

  32. Competition can be good short term for customers, not usually so good for employees. I know how then Northwest CEO Richard Anderson ran NWA into a fake bankruptcy, screwing the state of Minn who paid for a dedicated maintenance facility in Duluth for A320 work of course NWA screwed thousands of employees, moved virtually all maintenance of shore. Anderson shockingly ended up Delta CEO.

    Cheap tickets are nice but don’t assume these airlines are interested in the good of employees or American people.

  33. Nice to see Orlando getting a direct Seattle flight. One less Delta flight through Atlanta or SLC.

  34. Delta needs to give me more options to LatAm from the west coast before I skip out to another airline.

  35. Not sure why Ralf had to complain about the billboards Delta has up in Portland. Delta has operated PDX-LHR seasonally for a couple years now and will again be the only one flying PDX-LHRstarting in late April Until BA starts in June so Delta is just stating facts that are true.

  36. @NK3 The 4th largest metro area in the nation is DC/Baltimore, with probably at least 3 million more people than Dallas/Ft. Worth. The DC-Maryland metroplex is as large as Chicago metro. It’s very easy to look up.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.