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Alaska Airlines vs Delta : Which one is better?

Formerly allies, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines now compete head-to-head. To decide between the two, consider which aligns more closely with your travel preferences and objectives.

Alaska Airlines vs Delta : Which one is better?

1. Network and Routes

Both airlines are part of global travel alliances, enhancing their international footprint. However, Delta flies to twice as many destinations as Alaska and covers additional continents, so this airline wins. 

Alaska's Route Network. Alaska connects 120 destinations spanning the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, and Belize. As a member of the Oneworld alliance, it collaborates with 13 airlines, extending its reach to 900 locations across 170 countries. Hubs in the US: Anchorage, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, San Diego, San Jose (California).

Delta Airlines. Delta links roughly 275 places over six continents. Being part of the SkyTeam, it collaborates with 17 airlines, covering over 1,000 cities in 170 nations. Delta’s hubs are: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-John F. Kennedy, Salt Lake City, Seattle. International hubs: Amsterdam, London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Seoul, Mexico City, Tokyo-Haneda.

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2.Airline Loyalty Programs

Alaska surpasses Delta in simplicity and transparency when earning and redeeming miles. Delta's approach, linking miles to ticket costs, makes mile accrual more challenging and redemption unpredictable. Alaska retains the traditional mileage accrual method, where miles are earned based on flight distance, irrespective of ticket price. It's straightforward: longer flights mean more miles.

For flights on Oneworld partners, mileage accrual depends on both the distance and the fare class. You might earn only a fraction of the miles for the distance you actually fly.

NerdWallet recently shared their information that Alaska Mileage Plan values miles at roughly 1.4 cents each. While Alaska has introduced dynamic pricing for its flights and those operated by American Airlines domestically, it still provides award charts for most partner airlines, offering consistent value for many destinations.

Delta's SkyMiles. Delta's SkyMiles are tied to the ticket price rather than the distance flown. This means a longer yet cheaper flight might earn fewer miles compared to a short, expensive one. Mileage accrual also varies based on a member's elite status. For instance, Platinum Medallion members accrue more SkyMiles than regular SkyMiles members.

For partner flights, miles are based on fare class and a certain percentage of the flown distance related to that fare class.

In terms of value, Delta's SkyMiles stand at 1.2 cents each, a notch below Alaska's 1.4 cents. Delta's lack of a consistent award chart and dynamic pricing strategy further complicates redemption, as the required miles can vary greatly depending on ticket prices.

Alaska Airlines vs Delta: comparing loyalty programs - alaska wins - ratepunk

Travel Fees Comparison: Alaska vs. Delta -Tie

When it comes to additional travel costs, both Alaska and Delta are in close competition. Their fee structures are notably similar in many aspects, though some variations can be observed in specific categories.

Alaska Airlines' Fees:

  • Checked Baggage: $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second.
  • Seat Selection (For Saver fares): Fees can differ based on availability and class.
  • Change Fee: Generally, there is no charge unless you've booked a Saver fare.

Delta Airlines' Fees:

  • Checked Baggage: $30 for your first bag and $40 for your second one.
  • Seat Selection (For Basic Economy fares): The fee varies, dependent on seat availability and class.
  • Change Fee: No fee for domestic and some international flights, but exceptions apply for Basic Economy fares.
Legroom- alaska vs delta? ratepunk

In-flight Comfort: Alaska vs. Delta -  WINS Alaska

When examining the in-flight experience between Alaska and Delta, Alaska slightly nudges ahead, particularly in terms of first-class offerings. But your choice might still depend on what amenities you prioritize.

Alaska Airlines:

  • Seating: First-class passengers enjoy 41 inches of seat pitch, ensuring extra comfort and legroom.
  • Meals: For journeys spanning more than 670 miles, first-class passengers can pre-order meals, ensuring they receive their preferred choice.
  • Entertainment: On Alaska flights, you'll have access to a robust entertainment system with over 800 movies and TV shows, but you'll need your own device. Plus, passengers can use popular messaging platforms like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp for free texting.

Delta Airlines:

  • Seating: First-class seating provides 35 to 37 inches of seat pitch.
  • Meals: On flights exceeding 900 miles, first-class meals are served, with hot meals making a comeback on selected routes.
  • Entertainment: Delta offers a touch-screen interface with their Delta Studio, providing access to over 300 movies, TV shows, live broadcasts, podcasts, and games. Like Alaska, Delta also offers complimentary messaging on popular platforms.

In summary, while Alaska provides slightly superior seating and meal options, Delta offers an integrated entertainment system which might be more convenient for travelers without their own devices. Choose based on what amenities resonate most with your travel needs.

How about Customer Service? Both airlines generally receive positive reviews for their customer service, though individual experiences may vary. Historically, Alaska often ranks high in customer satisfaction surveys among U.S. airlines.

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