As I wrote about earlier, Alaska and Delta will be cutting ties next year. Many people considered it only a matter of time before Alaska and Delta broke up (*cue teenage girl voice* jeez, can you believe how clingly Delta was? And have you seen the way Delta looks at Alaska’s fleet? They’d be happier if there were more sharklets on that, if you know what I mean!).
I’ve heard of many people who made use of this partnership by flying Delta because of their great onboard product and crediting their miles to Alaska because of AS’s great Mileage Plan program. So, what do these people, or anyone else who credits miles to one program for flights on the other airline, do now?
Let’s start with those who fly Alaska and would otherwise credit miles to Delta. I’m going to be brief here and say that the most obvious option is just to credit Alaska flights to Alaska (the cheapest economy fares earn 1000% of miles flown, the several more expensive fare classes fare classes earn 125% of 150%, and first class earns 175%). Of course, the math is entirely different if you’re going for status with Delta, in which case you’ll just have to fly another airline as Alaska is no longer an option. However, if you have to fly Alaska, then you should just credit to Alaska: Alaska’s earning rates for travel on their own metal are really hard to beat, and something few other airlines match in their own programs. And Alaska miles are really, really valuable: Alaska’s redemption rates are better than the competition almost all the time (though Emirates awards are now outrageously expensive), and they can be used on a huge variety of airline partners, airlines from RavnAir Alaska to Cathay Pacific. So, if the airline you fly on the most is Alaska, credit to Alaska. Of course, if you merely flew Alaska as part of getting status on Delta, you’re now just going to have to fly Delta.
But what happens if you, like many people, flew Delta and credited to Alaska? Again, there are two options. If you Delta because it was convenient, then you’re going to have to choose another airline. However, if you flew Delta because you had to for some reason or another, then you’re going to have to find another place to credit your flights on Delta. So, what are the options?
- Crediting to Delta: Meh. Many economy fares earn 5 miles per dollar spent, which, given the prices of some of these fares, really is not much. Imagine you pay 300 dollars for a flight from San Diego to New York. Crediting to Delta, you would earn 1500 miles in M class. By comparison, while you can still credit to Alaska, a similar flight would earn you about 4800 miles. But what if you are okay with earning less miles because you want to be able to redeem miles for a Delta or Delta partner flight? Lucky for you, Delta’s awards can often be really expensive. So, for the person not chasing status, this isn’t a really good option.
- Korean Air SkyPass: I’m not sure what to say on this one. Korean Air’s award chart actually pretty good, though it is worth noting that they use a system where travel dates are classified as ‘peak’ or ‘off-peak.’ Off peak rates are pretty good, with flights between the US and Japan, China, or Korea being 125,000 miles roundtrip in business class or first class for 160,000. Peak fares are more, with the awards mentioned above going increasing to 185,000 and 240,000, respectively. In addition to the weird date classification system, many of the cheapest fares on Delta earn no miles when crediting to SkyPass, and I think we can agree that earning few miles on Delta is better than earning 0 miles on Korean Air. For those flying Delta, this is probably not a good option.
- Crediting to Air France/KLM Flying Blue: Probably the best option if you’re looking to earn and redeem miles. The earning rates for various fare classes on Delta are much the same as they were on Alaska (the earning rates are can be found here), and Flying Blue miles are pretty valuable as well: you can fly from the mainland US to Hawaii for 15,000 miles one-way in coach, anywhere within the US for 12,500 miles in economy, or from Europe to Mauritius for 30,000 miles one-way in economy. While Flying Blue doesn’t have the incredible premium cabin award deals Alaska has, there are still some good deals and you will earn a good amount of miles.
While none of these options are really as stellar as flying Delta and crediting to Alaska, there still are some options beside just crediting to Delta and not getting very much. Each has advantages and drawbacks, some more than others: Delta’s earning rates aren’t too great and their awards are often way too expensive, Korean Air has a reasonable award chart but won’t give you miles for many cheap fares, and Air France has decent earning rates but doesn’t have any unbelievable deals. There’s not an unbelievably obvious option here, so it all depends on what you value. That being said, for the average person who wants to earn the most miles and be able to redeem them for something resembling a good deal, Flying Blue is probably the best option.
Of course, there are other options when it comes to who to credit your miles to, but the ones listed above represent the best values for the average person who wants to earn the most miles (sure, in some cases CSA Czech Airlines will give you as many miles as Flying Blue, but they’re not exactly a major player in the airline industry which offers great values on awards).
If you’re someone who only flies an airline if you can earn Delta miles for that flight, then flying Alaska is just not going to be an option anymore and you’ll have to find flights on other airlines. The same is true of people loyal to Alaska, though they still have plenty of domestic options given AS’s partnership with American.
The end of the Delta/Alaska partnership is unfortunate, as it was a valuable partnership which had many benefits. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really ‘working out’ between the two carriers, with Delta trying to invade Alaska’s hub and the two airlines cutting various benefits for the other’s passengers. However, I hope I’ve provided some useful alternatives here.