Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Delta’s Elites Are Up for Grabs, So Are Slots to Tokyo

Cranky Weekly Review

Alaska, JetBlue Begin to Pick Off Medallions, One-by-One

Both Alaska and JetBlue launched very aggressive status match challenges for Delta elite fliers this week in the aftermath of Delta’s decision to blow up its Medallion program and instead give every customer a fundraiser-style thermometer that we watch rise as more money is donated spent.

Alaska’s offer is, unsurprisingly, more aggressive than JetBlue’s as it looks to create a large group of recovering Delta elites in Seattle and down the west coast. Alaska’s offer is for Delta Silver and Gold Medallion to status match to the first and second tier of its program through the end of this calendar year, with an offer to extend it through 2024 with either a challenge or by signing for for AS’s credit card. But more notably, it’s offering Delta’s Platinum and Diamond Medallions the offer to match to its highest tier – MVP 100K, a status that’s 100,000 times better than just MVP. That status also comes with top tier oneworld status, making it useful on AA and other oneworld carriers. The same offer — free through 2023 — also comes with the flying or credit card options to extend through 2024.

JetBlue’s offer gives Delta’s four published elite tiers matching status in JetBlue’s four Mosaic tiers. Similar to Alaska, the match is valid through the end of the year, with an opportunity to extend it through 2024 through a flying challenge or signing up for JetBlue’s credit card.

For more on Alaska’s effort to poach Delta elites on the west coast, please visit Thursday’s post at

Delta’s Lost Can be United’s Gain

Delta finally gave up the fiction that was its Portland to Tokyo/Haneda flight last week, and United Airlines is eager to step in and grab that slot — and one other.

The slots had a “use ’em or lose ’em” provision that was suspended during the pandemic. With that waiver ending in a month, Delta tried an end-run, asking for permission to play musical chairs with its slots which was eventually denied. It finally gave up on faking it accepted reality and offered the slot back to the government.

Enter United. The pride of Newark, United wants to begin new service to HND with daily flights from Houston/IAH and 5x weekly from Guam (using the days not operated by Hawaiian’s KOA-HND slot). United already operates from both airports to Tokyo/Narita, while its JV partner ANA currently flies HND-IAH. The process to bid for the new slots will be underway soon, and while United is first out of the gate with its proposal, American and Delta will get a shot to make a proposal for the pair, with other airlines less likely to even bid.

But as Travis Kelce taught us, always shoot your shot — this could be the change to finally get that HND – Plattsburgh flight on Breeze, or maybe Allegiant is eyeing flights to Tokyo from Flint.

Brady Audibles, Delta Reconsiders

Tom Brady was known as a quarterback who could get to the line of scrimmage, look at the defense and reevaluate his play call better than anyone else. Now, we assume Delta elites can thank the newest Delta executive for his latest audible, this time over the carrier’s changes to its Medallion program as Brady fanboy CEO Ed Bastian announced this week.

Bastian didn’t go into details on what part of the program could be scaled back, but only said that an announcement would be made in the “coming weeks” as the carrier presumably first wants to figure out how many elites are gone to Alaska and JetBlue. Bastian also revealed that the pandemic nearly doubled the number of Diamonds as people took advantage of two full years of rollover MQMs.

The CEO candidly admitted that Delta’s goal was to “rip the band aid off,” and kudos to them, because mission accomplished. The problem is that the new program seemingly takes a pound of flesh as said band aid is ripped off. The question is how successful this mea culpa will be — the most important factor will be what Delta does to roll back the changes, but the truth is, they’ve shown where the program is going — so even if it’s scaled back for a year or two, this is the direction we’re all headed.

Allegiant CEO John Redmond Resigns 

Allegiant CEO John Redmond stepped down from his role Thursday, just 16 months after he began as CEO on June 1, 2022.  Redmond will be succeeded by former CEO Maury Gallagher, who had been serving as the carrier’s executive chairman and will remain in that position while serving as CEO.

Redmond’s departure marks the second high-level executive to depart the airline this year, after then-president and CCO Scott Sheldon resigned in January.  Both are confirmed to have resigned their role, and not just be lost somewhere in Allegiant’s network at an airport so random, no one ever heard from them again.

Redmond’s tenure was marked by a lack of growth for the carrier in the sky but explosive growth on the ground as it opens the Sunseeker resort next month, leaving some alligators and a few people hoping Allegiant continues to branch out in the future. Gallagher would not go on the record for his plans so early in his second tenure, but many believe he has an eye on opening Allegiant Grocery, where prices are cheap but it’s all off-brand items that no wants, and no matter how perishable the product, it’s only available once or twice a week, three times tops.

Turkish Foray into Australia Delayed

Turkish Airlines’s entry into Australia by the end of this year is not going to happen as the carrier says the Australian government has not answered its application to fly to the country.

Turkish says it submitted its application in early August to begin service from Istanbul to either Sydney or Melbourne, but it is still awaiting a reply. The carrier hoped to begin 3x weekly Dreamliner service via Singapore, but now says there’s not enough time to get the flight up and running before the end of the year.

Turkish eventually plans to increase from 3x weekly to 5x, and eventually daily, in addition to serving both Sydney and Melbourne. It says nonstop flights from Istanbul are in its plans but won’t start for several years until it begins receiving deliveries of the A350-1000ULR or the oft-delayed B777X.

  • Air Canada‘s latest airplane order is a dream come true.
  • Air France-KLM is purchasing an additional 50 A350 family aircraft with an option for up to 40 more.
  • Air Serbia will begin 2x weekly flights to Porto in November.
  • airBaltic is launching an IPO.
  • Bamboo has a cash flow problem.
  • Blue Air has left its largest shareholder feeling blue.
  • Bonza was told that not only would it not be granted access to any slots in Sydney, it shouldn’t even think about.
  • China Eastern ordered 100 C919’s.
  • Delta says it’ll be carbon neutral by 2050. It plans to get there by increasing its medallion qualification requirements so high that literally no one flies the airline anymore, leaving it with no carbon emissions.
  • JetBlue guarantees that kids 13 and younger can sit with their parent no matter how much the parent (or kid) wants a break from the other.
  • Rex is blaming Qantas for its having to reduce service. When pressed, Rex also blamed Qantas for denying million of Australians quality healthcare, the hole in the ozone layer, and why hot dogs come in packs of six but buns in packs of eight.
  • Ryanair is threatening to move its primary listing to the Brussels stock exchange because of something else the Irish government did or said or thought or considered that pissed off Michael O’Leary.
  • SAS is mulling the final bids to bail it out of bankruptcy. It is taking longer than expected because the entire corporate team is sharing one 2018 Kindle Fire to read emails and two-thirds of the screen isn’t readable from when Sven in accounting dropped it back in 2021.
  • SkyWest is short 1,200 pilots.
  • Turkish is grounding as many as 12 A321s due to engine concerns.
  • United is not launching Chicago – Johannesburg flights next year. It’s also not launching flights to hundreds of other cities next year.
  • WestJet Cargo added a new route to Havana.

There’s a couple in my neighborhood that just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. He’s 98 and she’s 96 years old. He exclusively calls her the sweetest names like “honey, sweetheart, my love, and beautiful.” One day I asked him why he always peppers her with such compliments and he said “for godssake, I forgot her name 10 years ago. This is how I survive the marriage.”

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12 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Delta’s Elites Are Up for Grabs, So Are Slots to Tokyo

  1. Another bit of news: Viva Aerobus wasted no time after the reclassification of MX as Category 1, announcing MTY-DEN, AUS, MCO, MIA, OAK, JFK, at 2-4x/wk depending on the route (though not all routes have schedules announced). Spirit actually tried to run AUS-MTY daily, starting October of last year, but gave up earlier this month. Guessing Viva will have a better time filling about half the number of flights.

    Also, Aeromexico is bumping capacity MEX-MIA, MCO, IAH, JFK, LAX, DEN, and LAS, though they’re dropping capacity GDL-SFO, ORD, LAX by 3x/wk.

    Guessing we’ll see something from Volaris soon. Plus more moves from AM as codesharing with DL starts to make a difference again, though I figure AUS/SAT-MEX will remain on Connect E90s as Viva Aerobus and Volaris carry the bulk of MX-bound traffic out of both cities.

  2. Regarding the HND slots and UA not requesting one for DEN, I was wondering why DEN, as the only hub without two Tokyo flights (taking the JV into account), only flies to NRT.

    Is NRT considered better than HND for connections? Anyone just going to Tokyo could still take the NRT flight, but are there a lot of connections that can only go through NRT?

    No other hub has to make that kind of “where to serve” decision, as they all serve both airports.

    1. Mark – I think that’s right. Narita is better for connections going deeper into Asia. Haneda is best for domestic connections. But the real power of a Houston flight is the ability to connect people going between Haneda and Latin America. I’m guessing that’s a big part of it.

      1. Cranky, how many people are going from Japan to Latin America? Not saying there isn’t demand but I can’t imagine it’s huge.

  3. The Delta decision on the SkyMiles program reminds me of the Leo Mullin era with the DFW hub. At the time, I was a Delta loyalist. But almost overnight they went to 50 seat CRJs and atrocious scheduling of that DFW hub. All in the name of saving pennies. To this day, I will blame the schedulers/route planners for Delta’s DFW demise. It took a while, but the ‘shrink to profitability’ mindset at DFW got them nowhere and alienated regular customers.

    Likewise, some financial wunderkinds have obviously run their Excel spreadsheet formulas and figured out if we ‘tweak’ (i.e. shrink the value) the frequent flyer program, we can really improve the bottom line over on that side of the spreadsheet. I’ve not seen this much heat generated against an airline in a while.

    The Club issue is a whole other animal. They must be addicted to collecting membership fees as are AA and UA. They’ve created the mess, so instead of adding additional capacity the answer is to raise the entry qualifications. I can’t blame them too much for this because that is basic supply and demand. I visit United and American clubs regularly. Crowding can be an issue more related to noise, otherwise, I can always find a seat.
    The Delta club situation sounds like a hot mess.

    1. you forgot to mention or did not know that DL never achieved market share at DFW more than the mid teens when they had a hub there. They deployed the the airplanes that served the connecting market at DFW to JFK first and then LGA, a much larger local market so that DL has surpassed AA and B6 at JFK, both of which were larger than DL when B6 was born. DL did the same thing at LGA w/ the US slot swap and yet still stayed the 2nd largest airline by revenue at both DFW and DCA and has now passed up UA in number of flights in NYC even though UA via the CO merger had a significant lead and headstart over DL in NYC. DL then proceeded to fight the City of Dallas and WN for almost a decade to gain access to Love Field but could be the only one of the big 3 that will end up serving Love Field even when restrictions between AA and WN end. WN will likely add DFW (the latest WN pilot proposal allows the company to create pilot co-terminals at Chicago, Dallas and Houston) but there is no room at Love Field for AA to return unless AS leaves but AA at best will still be large enough to operate just to a few of its other hubs like DL.

      Two carrier hubs don’t work in the US and Chicago and New York are both examples of that where AA trails UA and DL in each of those metros and the same situation is setting up at LAX. Even WN is unable to mount more than a mid-teens market share in ATL against DL. DEN will be one of the best case studies of dual carrier hubs with UA and WN.

      And speaking of DEN, there is simply not enough local Tokyo demand from DEN to justify a HND flight while DEN and IAH compete for a lot of traffic flows; UA wants to make IAH the hub w/ the best service to the Tokyo local market and DEN to serve the connecting market on both ends.
      Problem is that UA will not win either route unless DL or AA chooses to bid on nothing and that is highly unlikely. The DOT has not even opened the route case for the displaced HND flight; they have to figure out if they are going to force HA to use their slot or see a viable plan for full compliance.
      None of the proposals for a second flight in an existing market, JV or by a US carrier itself, have much chance of approval against a new city for a carrier or JV.

      My bet is that DL will bid on and win JFK-HND which is likely what they were trying to do by moving the PDX route. NYC is the largest Japanese market that DL does not serve and which they competitively could serve and both JL and NH serve HND from JFK as well as UA from EWR.
      It will only be if the DOT makes HA fully restart their KOA flights and they fail to do so that UA stands a chance for GUM.

      1. You might have forgotten to mention or did not know that Delta’s market share was actually 35% at DFW in the 90’s. It plummeted to the teens with the RJ invasion and scheduling debacle I mentioned.

        1. No, David, Delta did not ever have a 35% market share at DFW. They might have offered 35% of the airport’s capacity which would have given them a 35% capacity share and they might have filled the same percentage of seats as other airlines which would have given them a 35% boarding share but both of those numbers are different from market share. And in hub like DFW where there were two legacy carriers competing, revenue share is even more important because it tells how well an airline competes for the same quality of revenue. Delta significantly underperformed American which means it had a revenue share deficit.
          Market share is the percentage of passengers that start or begin their journeys at an airport or city. In a hub and spoke system, the market share is never the same as the boarding or capacity shares. Delta had a roughly 15% market share and a 35% capacity share which is why the hub never worked financially.
          And you still want to pretend that Delta did not take its resources for all of those connecting passengers that have nothing to do with the DFW market and redeployed that capacity to NYC and ATL where DL directly overtook AA and B6 and then later overtook UA overall and in many key markets.
          And Delta still stayed at #2 at DFW in terms of revenue share and now gets average fares on par w/ AA or better in the routes it operates. The same is true on routes to/from other legacy carrier hubs across DL’s system. Usually, the airline with the larger hub gets a larger share of revenue on that leg which is why DL outperforms AA and UA on ORD-ATL. DL doesn’t carry the amount of passengers on LGA and LAX to DFW or as AA/UA from LGA to ORD but DL does get comparable average fares.

          As hard as it is for some to grasp, DL has long measured the success of its strategies in years and decades and not quarters as some airlines. It took years for DL to do what it has in NYC and LAX. Even in Dallas, DL waited a decade to assure its future at Love Field.

          The Skymiles mess will blow over; some people will walk away. DL will make changes. People that chased status will run somewhere else and will find the rules change at the next airline they run to.

  4. On board you see a lot Japanese business types and workers connecting onward to Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, etc

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