This isn’t the first time that I’ve suggested Alaska’s Mileage Plan™ might be the ideal home for a lot of Delta flyers. It is the first time that I’ve ever actually considered the implications of a switch for myself. First, a little background. Alaska recently announced some changes to its program. On the good side – if you fly Alaska, there’s potential to earn more miles for your flights. According to Alaska’s press release, “Beginning January 1, customers flying a first class, refundable coach and many business fares will earn mileage bonuses of 25-75 percent. MVP Gold 75K members will see their bonuses increase to 125 percent.” Here’s a chart breaking down the new rates.

alaska mileage plan, mileage plan, alaska mileage plan vs delta skymiles

Not bad, but what about Alaska’s relationship with Delta? Alaska has worked out a deal to continue awarding miles for Delta flights based on distance flown, but with different multipliers based on fare. Fellow BoardingArea blogger Scott covered the news in detail on Alaska’s blog. Here’s how Alaska miles for Delta flights will be awarded beginning January 1, 2015.

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If you buy a lot of premium tickets and are an elite, you could be better off with Alaska Mileage Plan. But lets look at my situation as an example. I am a Delta Platinum Medallion living in Atlanta. Come 2015, I will earn “miles” based on the fare I pay, not the distance I fly. I’m primarily a domestic flyer, with most of that short hauls up and down the east coast with some transcons thrown in every now and then. I’ll specifically look at the route I fly most, ATL-DCA, which is 547 miles. Here’s my current earn and my 2015 earn, based on a recent trip which I purchased pretty far in advance for a lowish fare.

alaska mileage plan vs delta skymiles

As you can see, I’m earning slightly more miles in 2015 under the Delta program on this route. Now let’s look at Mileage Plan. For the sake of comparison, I will assume I status match to Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K level. My cheap flight to DC booked into the U fare bucket meaning I’m earning 50% base miles.

547 x .50 = 273.5 miles each way or 547 miles total. Add in the 100% elite bonus for partner travel as an MVP Gold 75K, and I’m up to 1094 Mileage Plan miles roundtrip. Even as a general member with Delta, I would still earn more miles. Of course, this is just one route, but it’s as good example for us short-haul east coasters. While I believe that Mileage Plan miles are worth more than SkyMiles in general, I don’t think I can justify a switch to Mileage Plan as a Platinum Medallion who lives in Atlanta, Delta’s biggest hub. I value my Medallion benefits greatly, and this month excepted (0 for 6), have a fairly respectable upgrade percentage when flying Delta. I have no complaints overall with my treatment as a Delta Medallion customer.

On the other hand, if you are a flyer who lives in certain Alaska Airlines strongholds along the west coast, Mileage Plan has always been a good program, that is getting even better. I’d also remind you that Delta is not the only international partner Alaska has. Just sayin’.

-MJ, November 28, 2014