As Seattle Turns: Delta Slashes Elite Benefits for Alaska Fliers

I really just can’t get enough of this slow unraveling of the Delta/Alaska partnership. It beats any actual soap opera out there (if any are left on the air). And each week, there’s another juicy tidbit to keep you tuning in for more. I know I just wrote about this recently, but that’s old news. Now we have more shots fired.

Alaska Delta War in Seattle

Last week, on As Seattle Turns, the Widget (Delta) continued his metamorphosis by adding more and more flights in Seattle, much to the chagrin of his “partner,” the Eskimo (Alaska). As if that wasn’t enough to put the relationship on the rocks, the Widget also pulled back on codesharing on overlapping flights. In response, the Eskimo began looking elsewhere; building up stronger relationships with his other partners and publicly announcing he expected this long-budding relationship with the Widget to become less fruitful over time. Now, on to this week’s exciting episode.

Over the last year, the Widget has spent a lot of money wooing a new companion, a saucy minx from London. After spending all kinds of cash on her, the romance has now produced an offspring (only her name is Virgin) — a brand new route from Seattle to London will enter the world this weekend.

The Eskimo, afraid of being alone, has decided to cuddle up with the old matron of England. They’ve been friends for years, but they decided to bring their kinship into a more public spotlight. So throughout the Spring (until June 24, actually), these two will be handing out party favors to those who join them on their merry way from Seattle to London. You’ll get double Eskimo miles for choosing to fly with the Queen instead of with the Widget.

The Widget, however, has hardly taken notice. He has been crafting plans to isolate himself further from the Eskimo as their lovers’ quarrel escalates. This time, the Eskimo’s inner circle, the elites in his Mileage Plan, are feeling the Widget’s wrath.

As of May 1, the Eskimo’s inner circle will no longer be able to check bags for free and the bags that are checked won’t receive priority treatment. They will not get to use the Widget’s priority security lines and priority boarding will be downgraded from SkyPriority to zone 1. The final dagger? They’ll lose their 50 percent discount off Economy Comfort seats when flying with the Widget.

Where does this leave those in the Eskimo’s inner circle? Well, not all is lost. They can still get priority check-in and they’ll get access to preferred seating when flying with the Widget. They’ll also continue to get 100 percent elite bonus miles, and they’ll have access to free upgrades in the lower 48 states… after all the Widget’s own elites get their upgrades, of course. That becomes less and less useful by the day as the Widget works to woo more people away from the Eskimo.

Undoubtedly, the Widget is doing this to get more people to abandon the Eskimo’s inner circle and join his instead. But will it work? For some yes, but for others, no. There’s clearly plenty of temptation from both sides.

Naturally, the Eskimo can’t just sit here and let the Widget trample all over him. Instead of penning words to express his emotions, he chose action. The Widget’s elites will now have to pay for bags when they fly with the Eskimo. And they’ll lose access to his priority security lines as well. The rest of the increasingly fragile pairing remains intact, for now.

How much longer can this continue? Will the Widget and the Eskimo reconcile or will they split for good? Tune in next week (or, you know, whenever there’s news) for more drama on As Seattle Turns.

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