It’s a messy relationship when it comes to airline partners, and this month sees Alaska end its on-again, off-again relationship with Delta and formally marry Virgin America. This is good news for Alaska fliers although Delta travelers lose a valuable earning and burning partner. Alaska also beefed up benefits for its Mileage Plan members; this is a net win for Alaska fliers.
Alaska and Virgin America offer reciprocal mileage benefits
Now that Alaska and Virgin America have officially merged (becoming the fifth largest airline in the country), their loyalty program benefits are taking the first step in alignment. This means that fliers can earn and burn miles on either carrier as well as enjoy elite-level perks like priority boarding and check-in. Virgin American fliers can now earn miles based upon distance rather than dollars spent although this is only valid on Alaska flights. The airlines are selling tickets on each other’s flights on each other’s respective websites although eventually one website will be created. In the new year, Virgin America fliers will be asked to create Alaska Mileage Plan accounts in an effort to merge miles and points into one combined program. The transfer ratio will be 1.3 Mileage Plan miles to one Virgin America Elevate point or vice versa.
Meanwhile, Alaska and Delta break up
Delta and Alaska used to be friends until Delta started gaining traction in the Seattle/Tacoma market in an effort to feed more domestic passengers to its growing transpacific. Instead of only codesharing with Alaska, Delta decided to ramp up its route network from the airport and carry its own passengers to connect to its long-haul flights. This led to a bit of a turf war and began to dilute the relationship that at one point included mutual upgrades for elite members, priority boarding and check-in benefits, mutual mileage earning and burning, and waived checked bag fees. Effective May 1, 2017, the divorce is official. Luckily, Alaska fliers can still earn and burn miles with codeshare partner American, and of course, with new sibling Virgin America.
Alaska beefs up Mileage Plan benefits
Despite dropping its relationship with Delta, Alaska is making positive changes for its fliers. It is introducing a new one-way price of 5,000 miles for short-haul redemptions of less than 700 miles in distance. In addition, fliers that earn miles with the airline’s partner carriers will see a boost in the number of miles earned on flights, and the changes include all cabins like more miles for economy class on Icelandair and more in first for Emirates.
Emirates introduces new first class pajamas
If you find yourself aboard Emirates’ swanky first class service, pay attention to the new pajamas on offer. They feature moisturizing fabric with Hydra active microcapsule technology, which will be given to passengers on overnight flights. It gently emits nutrient-rich sea kelp as you shift within the fabric to help boost circulation and prevent dehydration. The best part is that the fabric locks in the moisturizing effect so that they can be used multiple times. Don’t forget passengers on the A380 can take a shower on board, too, if traveling in first class.
United takes delivery of first Polaris aircraft
United has received the first of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which was fitted with its new Polaris premium cabin product. The aircraft, United’s first of 14 on order, will begin regularly scheduled service in February offering p.s. (premium service) flights between Newark and San Francisco before being used on long-haul flying a month later.
Cathay Pacific to interline bags again with partners
Recently, Cathay Pacific announced that it would no longer interline bags between partner carriers if they were not booked on the same ticket. This meant that travelers flying, for example, British Airways on one ticket, but connecting to Cathay Pacific on a separate ticket, could not check their bags through to their final destination. For the airline, it makes sense since it adds complexity to the system, but customers found it to be a downgrade of oneworld alliance benefits. It was not forbidden, but was no longer an airline requirement for agents. Luckily, Cathay management has reversed track and will once again ask ticket agents to through check all bags, even if on separate tickets, as long as they are on oneworld alliance carriers. That’s a nice score for the flying public.
RocketMiles rewards you for unwanted gifts
If you receive a present this holiday season that you’re not so keen on keeping, why not send it to RocketMiles.com? The website, which gives travelers airline miles for booking hotels through its site, will give you a 500-mile bonus on your next hotel booking. Before Jan. 20, send that ugly sweater or pointless paperweight to RocketMiles, 641 W. Lake St, Ste. 102, Chicago, IL 60661. Used or poorly handmade gifts are not eligible, and all regifted presents must be received by Jan. 20. Only one bonus is eligible per customer, and be sure to include your name and email address associated with your account.