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It’s a good time to be a frequent flyer in Seattle.
Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have been competing over customers ever since the former carrier set forth plans to establish dominance in the latter’s west coast hub. Now, after a two year series of promotions from both parties trying to woo travelers, Delta’s latest attempt is pulling out all of the stops.
According to the blog No Mas Coach, new members of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program based out of Seattle are now being offered 5,000 free miles after an initial round trip and free gold elite status after the second. Typically, gold elite status is only earned after a SkyMiles member flies 50,000 miles and spends $6,000 annually with the airline.
SkyMiles members who enroll in the program will also earn double award miles during the campaign of the promotion, which runs through November 30th of this year.
In offering the new incentives, Delta appears to be broadening its appeal to Seattle’s high frequency, business travel market, a segment critically important to sustained profits in that region. It’s also aimed at building up Delta’s customer base out of the Pacific Northwest, a region typically dominated by Alaska.
That traction is exactly what Delta needs if it plans to continue expanding west into Asia, a quickly developing market ripe for new routes and profits. With United already in control of the San Francisco hub and American doubling down on Los Angeles, Delta needs a stronghold from which to launch Asia-bound flights. And unfortunately for Alaska, Seattle seems to be the port of choice.
Alaska, for its part, has so far been quiet about Delta’s latest campaign. While it’s possible that distractions from the upcoming Virgin America integration are keeping the marketing team at bay, it’s also possible that the airline doesn’t feel the need to compete as aggressively any more — after all, it will soon have a San Francisco hub and it has no plans to expand into Asia.
Either way, frequent flyers are getting the best end of the bargain while Delta and Alaska continue to posture. Once both of the carriers get more comfortable in the Pacific Northwest, these generous promotions will evaporate.