Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Delta Says “Howdy, Partner,” Alaska Updates Mileage Plan

Cranky Weekly Review

Delta’s Texas-Sized Growth in Austin

American probably shouldn’t lock the door on its way out of Austin because Delta is sneaking in to fill in a bit of the void left when AA announced its retreat from the airport last month, albet in a very different way.

Delta’s new schedule in Austin will be its largest ever, a 20% increase over last summer, including flights from Austin to two new cities in the Delta network — Midland/Odessa and McAllen — while launching Austin to Nashville and adding additional flights from AUS to both Cincinnati and Raleigh-Durham. The three new cities for Delta from Austin — McAllen, Midland/Odessa, and Nashville — will each see 3x daily flights, while CVG and RDU each get one more daily flight, making 2x daily for Cincinnati and 3x daily for Raleigh-Durham.

Other Texas-sized additions for Delta include a greater presence at its former hub of Dallas/Fort Worth including additional flights to Boston and New York/LGA and new service to Seattle beginning July 8.

Alaska Announces 2024 Mileage Plan Changes

Alaska Airlines announced changes for its Mileage Plan loyalty program for next year, and the changes are generally positive and not overly dramatic (we’re talking to you, Delta).

There is no change to the thresholds to earn elite qualification, but there are three small changes to qualifying:

  1. Alaska will no longer offer elite qualification through segments only, which is a blessing in disguise for anyone who is earning elite status through segments.
  2. No longer will a minimum of segments need to be flown on Alaska to earn elite status — meaning all flying could theoretically be done on partner airlines without ever setting foot in an airplane with an Eskimo on its tail.
  3. Donations given to help Alaska fund its purchase of Hawaiian Airlines will also earn elite qualifying miles… but only in HawaiianMiles with the new Pualani Meh status level

Alaska will now allow elite qualifying miles to be earned through credit card spend, a first for the program, at a rate of 4,000 EQM for every $10k spent up to 20,000 EQM for the year. The program will launch a one-time only rollover option, but only for its top tier MVP Gold 100k members, and Alaska says it’ll introduce new choice awards later in 2024. The carrier hasn’t confirmed what those options will be, but we have learned through sources at Alaska that an option for home delivery of POG juice from Hawaiian’s stash is being considered.

AA AAligns AAlong With Philippine AAirlines

American Airlines and Philippine Airlines announced a new codeshare partnership, with the two airlines putting each other’s codes on a limited number of flights to destinations from international gateways.

American’s AA code will be placed on Philippine’s fights from Tokyo to Manila, Tokyo to Cebu, and from both Honolulu and Guam to Manila. Philippine’s PR code will go on AA flights from Los Angeles to seven destinations: Atlanta, Denver, Houston/IAH, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, and Washington/DCA.

AAdvantage members will be able to earn miles and AA Loyalty Points while flying on Philippine provided it’s an AA codeshare flight. There’s no redemption opportunities for customers yet, but these codeshares are often a first step into a larger relationship between two airlines. There’s no truth to the rumor that Philippine has its eye on joining oneworld, but several senior executives were seen measuring offices in oneworld’s Fort Worth headquarters while also inquiring about the opening of new Philippine restaurants in Plano.

Senate Considers Requiring EpiPens on Commercial Flights

Three Senators sent a letter to the FAA seeking a requirement that EpiPens be required as part of the in-flight emergency kits to shoot up Basic Economy passengers who request things like water or use of a seat belt to be used in the case of an allergic reaction on-board an aircraft.

The Association of Flight Attendants has long requested making EpiPens a required part of the emergency kits on board. The FAA told the three Senators (Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Ed Markey) it would review the letter and emergency kit requirements and then promptly ignore the request.

Epinephrine — the medicine that goes in the EpiPen — is permitted to be carried on-board. To use the medicine to treat an allergic reaction, the medicine would need to be pre-loaded in an autoinjector such as an EpiPen to be used safely and would require a test dose to be administered to a Basic Economy passenger to ensure it’s not a deadly amount of medicine.

Frontier’s Newest Frontiers

Frontier Airlines announced seven new routes to begin in March, with the additions centered around beefing up its operation in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh will receive four new destinations on Frontier including Atlanta (4x weekly), Dallas/Fort Worth (3x weekly), Philadelphia (2x daily), and Raleigh-Durham (4x weekly). Frontier is gunning for American on the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia route, choosing to operate it twice-daily as opposed to its usual sub-daily preference, going against AA that flies PIT-PHL a surprisingly low 3x daily.

Also for Frontier, Cleveland – Montego Bay (3x weekly), Hartford to Tampa (4x weekly), and Jacksonville to Dallas/Fort Worth (3x weekly) are being added.

  • Air Canada is hopping on the Tulum bandwagon.
  • Air Transat named Jean-Francois Pruneau as its new CFO. We presume Jean-Francois comes very well coiffed.
  • Alaska is finally listening to the millions who have been clamoring for it to offer non-alcoholic beer on-board.
  • Allegiant updated its in-flight menu. We’ve received unconfirmed reports the update consists of prime rib, hamburgers, and all the fixins.
  • Avianca‘s battle over slots in Bogotá with LATAM is still ongoing.
  • British Airways will return to London/Stansted next summer.
  • Delta is adding Charlotte to its family of SkyClub locations.
  • easyJet is returning slots at both Berlin and London/Gatwick.
  • Electra Airlines is apparently a thing, and it wants to fill the gaps in the criminally-underserved market between Bulgaria and the United States.
  • Finnair had a good November.
  • GOL scored with getting clearance to begin fifth freedom rights to Bogotá.
  • Hainan Airlines is returning to Africa with service from Shenzhen to Cairo beginning January 21.
  • JetBlue is the fifth U.S. airline to announce service to Tulum’s new airport.
  • KLM says alcohol is a key factor in passengers being unruly. Stay with Cranky as we investigate this claim.
  • Lufthansa raised €600 million from the sale and leaseback of 12 widebody aircraft. The carrier is expected to use the money to fund a study to see what its next subsidiary should be named.
  • Mango just won’t go away.
  • Norwegian is crying foul in its antitrust case against Widerøe.
  • Porter execs are clearly angling for free access to Hawai’i in the future.
  • Qantas is adding reserve airplanes, staff, and Vegemite rations to prepare for the Christmas rush.
  • Ryanair is going all-in on Morocco.
  • SAS is increasing its frequencies to Boston, New York/JFK, and Toronto.
  • SpiceJet looks to curry favor with several investors as it looks to pepper its bank account with an additional $270 million.
  • Southwest expects to have a profitable, incident-free Christmas. We’ll see about that.
  • Turkish will see Margot Robbie debut as the new face of the airline in March. And lucky for her, she’s got a lot of new airplanes to try out.
  • WestJet added service from Calgary to Seoul/ICN to its schedule for the summer.

I’m not sure if I like eggnog or not.  I guess you could call me eggnostic.

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11 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Delta Says “Howdy, Partner,” Alaska Updates Mileage Plan

  1. “Donations given to help Alaska fund its purchase of Hawaiian Airlines will also earn elite qualifying miles”

    Is this true or are you trying to be funny? I’m not an airline expert so it’s hard to tell.

  2. Alaska actually has had annual “EQM for credit card spend” promos for at least three or four years. The terms varied both in terms of caps, earnings ratio and validity period. I guess they were (are?) experimenting to see if this should be a permanent feature of the MP program.

    1. Interesting tidbit after yesterday’s post… AA pulls back in AUS and DL immediately bulks up. Which seems to fit a well established pattern.

  3. In all seriousness, do you think PR and AA’s codeshare could be the first step towards PR joining oneworld? I know they were planning to join it ages ago but that fell through for whatever reason. Though PR does have partial ANA ownership so that might be an issue.

    1. MK03 – I have absolutely no idea. At this point, I think PR is just nervous about United entering Manila so it wants to beef up feed to give it an edge on frequency.

  4. AUS-MFE/MAF are even more interesting than I thought, given that’s DL’s only flight to both airports. So they’re definitely angling to fill the plane up with some connecting traffic. For MFE if DL serves AUS with where you’re going, it’s gonna be a heck of a lot easier to connect there than IAH/DFW, which are your only other options. And while MAF has a few more options, if you want to connect eastbound DL has a decent smattering of options one-stop, including MCO (MFE has SFB).

    I might try hopping on one of these flights once they’re live if they’re cheap.

    1. I always wonder about single destination spokes. Seems like they ought to throw on 1 or 2x to SLC but that’s probably not going to open that many connections. Maybe 1x to ATL timed for intl connections? 1x to LAX for same?

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