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Delta, Alaska to Cut Reciprocal Elite Benefits

In what is likely to be just one of several steps ultimately leading to the complete dissolution of the Delta-Alaska Airlines frequent-flyer program tie-up, the two feuding airlines have begun chipping away at the reciprocal elite benefits that have been a centerpiece of their longstanding preferred marketing relationship.

Alaska today announced that, beginning on May 1, Mileage Plan elites will lose the following current perks when flying Delta:

  • Baggage fee waivers
  • Sky Priority Boarding
  • Express security lanes
  • Priority baggage
  • 50 percent discount on Economy Comfort seats

For the time being, the following elite perks will remain in place for Mileage Plan elites flying Delta:

  • Elite bonus miles
  • Complimentary upgrades “within the United States (excluding Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, and select Caribbean destinations. Not available on nonstop flights between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle”
  • Preferred seating
  • Zone 1 priority check-in and boarding

Alaska reciprocated by cutting the following benefits for Delta SkyMiles elites flying on Alaska from May 1:

  • Baggage fee waivers
  • Priority security-line access

Other current Delta elite benefits are not affected.

Neither airline has committed to a timetable for terminating the frequent-flyer relationship completely, but my guess is that the partnership will no longer be in place when Delta’s new SkyMiles program takes effect on January 1, 2015.

Reader Reality Check

Will you be collateral damage of the Delta-Alaska breakup?

This article originally appeared on

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