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Since Alaska’s purchase of Virgin America closed earlier this month, we’ve heard quite a bit of speculation on the effects this might have on Alaska’s existing partnerships, especially with American Airlines and Delta. Not surprisingly, it was confirmed that the partnership between Alaska and Delta would end next year.
What Are the Details of the Breakup?
As of May 1, 2017, Delta and Alaska will be completely separate. This means that as of that date:
- You’ll no longer be able to earn Mileage Plan miles on Delta flights, or vice versa. (For flights booked before 12/19/2016 but operating after May 1, 2017, you'll need to request credit)
- Booking Delta award flights using Mileage Plan miles, or vice versa, will no longer be possible.
- Codesharing between the two airlines will cease.
As far as we can tell, all that’s staying the same is the interline agreement between the two airlines, which means that transfers (of passengers and baggage) will be easier than it would if this agreement were to cease as well.
Along with this announcement, Alaska has made some other changes (and enhancements) to its Mileage Plan program, which we’re covering in a separate post.
What This Means for Your Miles and Benefits
Through April 30, 2017, you can continue as normal. For travel booked and completed by that date, you can redeem (and earn) SkyMiles and Mileage Plan miles for the partner airline’s flights.
Things get a little more complicated when you’re booking flights for travel that will take place after the partnership ends on May 1. You can still redeem your miles to book partner flights, as long as you make the booking before May 1. However, you will not earn miles through the partnership if the flights are completed later, regardless of when you make the booking.
If you’re a Delta SkyMiles Medallion Member, your benefits with Alaska Airlines will continue through April 30. Like most features associated with the partnership, however, they will cease on May 1 when the end of the partnership is official.
Is This a Big Deal?
The biggest impact is to two groups:
- Elites within each program that take flights on the other airline that help earn that status
- Casual travelers that redeem miles on one another
We hate the idea of fewer options when it comes to earning and redeeming, but the fact that this relationship lasted as long as it did surprises all of us. Full details are available with Delta's press release and Alaska's website.
How will the breakup impact your travel plans?
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