Delta Wants To Triple Presence in Seattle

Filed Under: Alaska, Delta

Watching Delta’s growth in Seattle over the past two years has been amazing. They’ve gone from only having a small presence at the airport, to having nearly a dozen longhaul international flights per day, plus a countless number of domestic flights as well.

Of course this kind of growth took some dirty work — specifically, the “Battle in Seattle” that they’ve been having with Alaska Airlines. When they first announced their international growth it was positioned as a partnership with Alaska, whereby Alaska would be providing the domestic feed for Delta’s international flights. Little did Alaska know that Delta was just using them short term to facilitate growth, while long term Delta had plans to provide most of their domestic feed themselves.


But it looks like Delta’s current growth is just the beginning. Delta presently has 11 gates at SeaTac Airport, but is aiming for 30.

Via Bloomberg:

“We’re making good progress on our discussion to upgrade the facility and to turn Seattle into a huge international gateway for Delta,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said on a recorded message to employees.

Delta, the world’s third-largest airline, is seeking 30 gates at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the long term, Anderson said on the Nov. 13 call. The airline currently has 11 gates, according to the airport, the largest base for Seattle-based Alaska.

Anderson’s message suggests Delta is pushing beyond a previously stated goal. In September, Seattle airport spokesman Perry Cooper said Delta wanted about 150 flights a day at the airport by 2017. That would require 19 or 20 gates, assuming eight flights a day from each one, Cooper said.

Delta could potentially operate 240 flights a day with 30 Seattle gates, Cooper said. Sea-Tac, as the airport is commonly known, determines how many gates to grant airlines each year according to formula using their number of outbound seats as of August, Cooper said.

Making progress to turn Seattle into a huge international gateway? They haven’t done that already with Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Amsterdam, London, and Paris? I think that says a lot about just how much they want to scale their operations out of Seattle.

I can’t wait to see where this growth leads, and how Alaska fits into all this. I’m kind of amazed that Alaska seems to just be sitting back and taking it up the chutney from Delta. I guess right now all airlines are doing well, so maybe they’re just complacent, but I don’t see how they’ll be able to succeed long term if they don’t change something in a mAAjor wAAy.


(Tip of the hat to TravelinWilly)

  1. It doesn’t appear that AA wants to play. What does Alaska give them? Alaska feeder that’s it. CA routes go the wrong way and everything else just tracks back to SEA.

  2. I wonder what this will do to DTW and to a lesser degree MSP. Can’t imagine they’ll need as much lift to Asia out of the midwest if they can do it from the west coast

  3. its amazing how loyal AS’s customers are. The aircraft are garbage, old seats, no AC power, no scaled IFE. The only thing that keeps customers loyal, as far as I can tell, is the top notch FF benefits. It seems to me of Delta really wanted to rid itself of AS, just match the FF program.

  4. Alaska’s new planes have AC power, but also ENORMOUS under-seat boxes. Way too big for three measly outlets.

    As an AA elite stuck flying SFO-SEA four or five times a year, free exit rows are a decent perk but I sure wouldn’t mind upgrades too.

  5. @Eric: There are criticisms to be made against Alaska but most planes are newish and Alaska is in the process of installing new slimline seats with AC and USB outlets in everything but the 400s, 700s and the Combis:

    They also have orders for 70ish planes, many of which will replace the older 737s… Meaning most planes will indeed have power outlets and new seats. I am not a huge fan of slimline seats in general, but they were okay on my most recent AS trip to DTW. I agree with you about the IFE, but what they do offer is beyond carriers such as Southwest and US, and I tend to bring my own devices, anyhow. Sure, I would prefer seatback entertainment, but on almost every flight on any carrier the cabin is filled with people enjoying movies on their iPads or tablets.

    I find that Alaska offers a very decent economy product and has less-bitter staff than the likes of UA, but Alaska’s F product pales in comparison to the F product of most carriers on similar routes. Works out pretty well for me as a lowly MVP since I’m happy if I can get to where I need to go in an exit row or bulkhead. There are a ton of MVPs but since F isn’t that special I usually just don’t worry about upgrade roulette.

  6. James, I am not worried about DTW or MSP, but the build-up at SEA must certainly threaten operations at SLC. It seems to me the writing is on the wall, CVG is the new MEM, and SLC is the new CVG..

  7. The problem with a West-coast only strategy (i.e., cutting out DTW and MSP) is that for those of us on the east coast, it is close to impossible to leave on a Friday AM and make a reasonable connection out of SEA to arrive in Asia at a decent hour.

  8. I’ve seen a lot of bargain prices for Delta flights departing Seattle lately. Alaska is one of the most expensive. Yet the Alaska flights I’m on continue to be close to full. I’m not convinced Delta’s expansion is taking hold yet among passengers.

  9. AS has compressed the F seats so that there is now less legroom in row 1 than in row 6. Sort of negates the point of maintaining status to get upgrades. Certainly would never pay F prices to be “sardined” in!

  10. Also disagree about the AS planes, have not been on an old one on a key route, but the new ones are quite reasonable. Don’t notice the leg room issues in F, but I’m not a leg room aficionado. Space seems fine, like the digeplayer selection and function, and meals are good in F in AS.

    Best part of the AS experience is the flight attendants, though, they seem to care about bringing joy to the job in addition to their safety and service components.

    AS and DL are really in different leagues. Hard to compare them, but if you fly domestically from the northwest, I’d pick AS > DL >> UA
    with maybe WN as a reasonable alternative to a number of places.

  11. AA doesn’t really bring nearly as much to AS and vice versa as DL did. It does seem inevitable that the DL partnership will end. But no way can AA replace it either in feed nor in routes for SEA & Alaska-based pax. No Asia routes, and limited other connections

    AS does have by far the better FF program especially with DL reductions. However I also don’t understand the rabid AS fanboy behavior given the relatively mediocre AS inflight experience. They are adding power but I find the slimline seats uncomfortable, the F product weak, and upgrades difficult on longer haul routes. Lack of a Y+ product is also an issue, given that the only extra legroom seats do fill up.

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