As you know, I status-matched to Alaska Mileage Plan MVP 75K several weeks ago. This was partially a defensive move in the wake of changes at SkyMiles and AAdvantage, and partially an act of curiosity. Could a flyer who primarily flies Delta make Mileage Plan work for them? That is an ongoing question. Since I first matched, I’ve flown several Delta flights, and have some Alaska flights planned in the near future. While I am always glued to the bottom of the upgrade list when crediting Delta flights to Mileage Plan, I have perceived no differences in service and have experienced nothing I would consider a “problem.”
What About Those Redeemable Miles?
I earned more miles on my first Delta flight credited to Alaska Mileage Plan than I would have if I credited that flight to SkyMiles. However, that’s just one flight, and an “FCM” itinerary at that. A recent series of flights offered an ideal opportunity to compare mileage earning between SkyMiles and Mileage Plan. I purchased the same fare in the same market 2 weeks in a row. One of the roundtrips was credited to SkyMiles, the other to Mileage Plan. While the difference in miles earned was not life-changing, and this is just one example, I did earn a few more miles with Mileage Plan.
Fare paid = $350
Miles flown = 547
SkyMiles earned = 2,072
Mileage Plan miles earned = 2,493
Difference = 421
But It Isn’t Just About the Miles, Is It?
For some, it may just be about the miles. For me, that’s not the case. The miles matter, of course, but so do some of the softer benefits of elite status with the airline you fly most like phone and customer support. Further, Alaska elites do not receive a free checked bag benefit with Delta. That doesn’t matter often, but on one of my recent flights it did as I was taking something home that needed to be checked. Not the biggest deal on earth, but something to consider. One of the most annoying things about flying Delta but crediting to Mileage Plan – your reservation will not be displayed on Delta.com, and you have to enter your confirmation number every time you need to access your travel plans. However, I have discovered that entering this information just once with Delta’s iPhone app is all that’s required. For some reason, reservation information seems to “stick” when entered there.
The Bottom Line – To Be Continued
There is no conclusion here yet. I earned more redeemable miles with Mileage Plan in this example, miles that can be used on an array of attractive partner airlines and of course, I get to experience Alaska’s great care when flying on Alaska metal. On the other hand, there are some real benefits to having elite status with and crediting flights to the loyalty program of the airline you actually fly most. Yes, even if that airline is Delta and that loyalty program is SkyMiles.
In a future post, we’ll take a look at elite qualifying mile results.
-MJ, March 30, 2016