Earlier this year I wrote about the possibility of status matching to Alaska Air’s Mileage Plan program. It’s a great little program, and arguably, the most rewarding in the industry once American moves to revenue based earn sometime in 2016. With Delta, United, and soon American moving their programs to a revenue based world, I couldn’t help but consider the possibilities with Mileage Plan. Frankly, I still am considering them, but for the moment, I am not requesting a status match with Mileage Plan. (Feature image credit: Shutterstock)

A certain percentage of my travel is obligated to two airlines, Delta and Southwest. As you know, I’m occasionally seen on an American jet too. Should I elect to credit to Mileage Plan, most of my Delta obligated travel will award 50 percent of miles flown, not counting any elite bonuses. Not horrendous, but not great. The remainder of my travel is personal, and up to me. Once upon a time I blindly booked the airline I flew most in order to make sure I reached my desired level of “elite” status. No more. In 2015 I started my own loyalty program, the MJ Personal Happiness fund. Price and schedule became my primary factors in travel purchases in 2015 with “loyalty” somewhere down the list. Ironically, with the money I’ve saved, I have been able to take advantage of several “Y Up” fares for pleasure travel allowing MrsMJ and I to fly in comfort without worrying about my minuscule to absolutely nonexistent upgrade chances in a first class monetized world.

Living less than 20 minutes from Delta’s largest hub means that I am going to fly Delta. Yes, I could credit those flights to Alaska Mileage Plan for now, making the idea of a status match worth considering. In truth, I fly Delta enough to routinely earn at least Gold Medallion without trying very hard, and Platinum Medallion if I think about it just a little. I value the perks of Medallion like Sky Priority, phone assistance, and at the Platinum level, service charge waived award redeposits. For the moment, perks win. Of course, I’ve managed to burn a few SkyMiles too. As I noted over at renespoints.com recently,

“….the Delta flight experience (from people to ops reliability to inflight hard and soft product) edges out AA IMHO. That coupled with the fact that for the time being, I live less than 20 minutes from Delta’s largest hub likely means that I will continue to fly Delta, even with what probably is an inferior mileage program. In 2016, it becomes relatively less inferior to AAdvantage, all else being equal.

If, as I expect, I’m ultimately living in an AA hub again, I’ll be a full-time AAdvantage player. I’m close enough to 2 million miles to make it worthwhile. If things like that don’t matter to a flyer, Alaska remains an option for now, especially if you’re the type who buys first class tickets.”

In the end, my decision not to match from SkyMiles to Mileage Plan was based on unanswered questions about career and location more than anything else. If there are big changes in that regard this year, I could find myself in an AA hub again, or there’s the outside chance that I could be in a region where Alaska Airlines is a viable option for me in ways other than crediting miles. In other words, I don’t want to waste long term opportunities on short term annoyances with individual programs. Then again, I could be living in Atlanta for a long time, and I’m OK with that. In the end, Delta runs a pretty decent airline and I don’t mind flying them. For the time being, I’m not making any rash changes in my loyalty focus, and that includes the MJ Personal Happiness Fund too.

Where will your loyalty be in 2016?

-MJ, December 22, 2015