Why I am continuing my loyalty to Alaska Airlines
I recently wrote a post on why I am giving up my loyalty to Alaska Airlines. In Part 2, I explore the reasons to stay loyal to Alaska.
Earlier I wrote about all the reasons not to stay loyal to Alaska. The airline has changed a lot in the last 2-3 years. With that said there is still a lot for me to love about the airline.
Reason 1: Mileage Plan is Still Best
Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is still the best (at least domestically). As of now, elite status does NOT require any monetary spend — it is all about the miles or segments. It has a large number of international partners and is agnostic when it comes to alliances (for better and worse).
2: Good Customer Service
Alaska has exceptional customer service. In fact, Alaska has won the JD Power Best Airline for Customer Satisfaction for the past 11 years (It should be noted that this is in the Traditional Carrier category; Southwest and JetBlue are in a separate Low Cost Carrier category). I find the Alaska employees to be some of the best in the airline industry — courteous, professional, knowledgable. The inflight safety demo is done by real humans (no video screens for Alaska… except ex-Virgin planes). When you call in to Alaska, typically you get a real person within 30 seconds that is located along the West Coast. Alaska historically has high on-time ratings meaning low incidence of delays and cancelations. They have a great social media presence as well.
Reason 3: I Live in Seattle
Seattle is dominated by Alaska Airlines. Half of all seats on flights coming and going from SeaTac Airport are on Alaska. That includes both domestic and international (and Alaska only flies internationally out of SeaTac to 5 destinations all in Western Canada). Delta accounts for a total 22% of ALL passengers through SeaTac and they actually have some large aircraft serving the city to international destinations. Southwest, United and American are each around 5-6%.
Simple math makes it much easier to stay loyal to Alaska than any other airline. I fly Delta and JetBlue once or twice a year, but other than that for domestic Alaska offers the best times and most destinations.
The Alaska Airlines of today doesn’t get me as excited as the Alaska Airlines of a year ago. With the purchase of Virgin America, I was hopeful for an airline that could compete with the legacy domestic airlines. Unfortunately it seems that those in charge of Alaska have decided that in order to compete, Alaska must adopt some of the negative practices of other airlines. In some ways I think of Alaska a bit like Apple. A great brand that has lost some of its shine recently.
So am I planning on staying loyal? Probably; just not as loyal. After being an MVP Gold 75K for a number of consecutive years, I will likely start 2019 as a lowly MVP. It still makes sense for me to do most of my flying on Alaska but recently I have started to accumulate Delta and JetBlue points (via flights and credit cards). I still hold some hope that Alaska will realize their potential to be great again and doesn’t continue their race to the bottom.