Delta and WestJet recently announced their intentions to form a transborder joint venture. Assuming the joint venture is approved, Delta and WestJet will be able to coordinate schedules, fix fares, etc., on transborder flights. This will certainly make Delta more competitive in Canada, given that Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada, partners with United.
When joint ventures are introduced it typically translates to more benefits for frequent flyers. This is something Delta is especially good at as part of their global domination strategy, as they introduce reciprocal upgrades and benefits whenever possible, when traveling on their joint venture partners. The catch is that joint ventures also typically lead to higher fares, as they’re the equivalent of eliminating a competitor.
While the joint venture hasn’t yet been approved, Delta will begin awarding elite qualifying miles for travel on WestJet as of January 1, 2018. While the two airlines already partner, their cooperation isn’t currently that comprehensive — you can only earn redeemable miles for travel on WestJet, and award redemptions on WestJet were only introduced earlier this year.
Here’s the current SkyMiles earnings chart for travel on WestJet:
Here’s the new earnings chart for travel on WestJet:
On the plus side, you’ll be able to earn Delta MQMs and MQDs for WestJet flights, which wasn’t possible before. You won’t be able to earn your Medallion elite mileage bonus, but I suspect that will be introduced once the joint venture is approved.
However, there’s also some bad news. Delta is significantly decreasing the number of redeemable miles you earn for traveling on WestJet in many fare classes. The cheapest economy fares go from earning 50% miles to earn 25% miles, and even the most expensive fares go from earning 125% miles to earning 100% miles.
It looks to me like these changes were actually made a while ago (the same time that Delta announced other mileage earning changes for partners as of January 1, 2018) but I didn’t pick up on it at the time. However, I think this is interesting enough that it warrants its own post.
In cases these changes result in a loss of redeemable miles compared to the old chart, you can request the mileage difference as long as you booked prior to October 26, 2017, using the mileage request form.
Ultimately this is a positive development for Delta elite members who value miles towards elite qualification, while for most travelers it will result in a decrease of the redeemable miles earned.
Delta’s most surprising partner mileage earning situation continues to be that flights on Korean Air don’t earn any sort of MQMs or MQDs with Delta SkyMiles, even though they have a pending joint venture. Hopefully that changes once the joint venture is fully approved, but in the meantime I’m surprised they haven’t at least made some minor positive changes there.
(Tip of the hat to Points, Miles & Martinis)