Delta and Alaska were once close partners. In fact, at one point it was expected that their partnership could grow to exclude American (which also partners with Alaska). Indeed, though Alaska Airlines is relatively pricey and the Department of Justice in no mood to approve more airline mergers, it’s certainly been contemplated that Delta could buy Alaska.
Instead Delta has built up a hub operation in Seattle — first for transpacific flights, and then feeding those flights with its own domestic route network rather than transferring passengers on its partner Alaska.
The two airlines have been competing brutally. Some think the idea was to force Alaska into a merger, or to beat down their financial performance to the point that a merger was less expensive. Though that may have been in some minds, I see it as Delta taking on a one-time (and still in name) partner.
Alaska has competed well. They’ve grown their schedule, including into cities traditionally served by Delta in order to compete rather than cooperate.
They’re relied on their excellent flight operation that performs even better than Delta’s.
Sadly you can no longer earn full Alaska miles on discount Delta fares. Though you still earn full miles on discount Alaska fares!
The back and forth between the carriers even spawned this bad joke.
The airline’s CEO shares that Alaska Airlines was ‘shocked’ when their Delta partnership unraveled.
“At first we were just sort of shocked, you know, that the thing seemed to be unraveling,” Tilden said Thursday at a Puget Sound Business Journal Live event.
…“I would say we did flap around on that for awhile before we sort of came to peace with exactly what our mentality was, what our mindset about the competition was and how we were going to respond,” Tilden said.
The airline has stuck to the original plan it landed on: Control yourself, don’t try to control anyone else.
That would be great advice for Delta as it goes up against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar.