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Battle For Seattle: Delta And Alaska Go After Seahawks Fans

Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines are making it clear that they are ratcheting up the fight for Seattle by going after local customers. The airlines are offering new promotions and special celebratory events for local Seahawks football fans. To this extent, Alaska Airlines has even revealed a special livery featuring Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

Alaska Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has a new Alaska Airlines livery painted on a Boeing 737. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines reveals special Russel Wilson livery

In a very overt display of the airline’s local heritage, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has revealed its fourth Russell Wilson livery. Painted on a Boeing 737-900ER, the aircraft made its first flight between Seattle (SEA) and Indianapolis (IND), where Alaska’s Chief Football Officer – Russell Wilson – is set to take the field in his first game this season.

The plane features a larger-than-life painted Wilson. The football player and Alaska have had a relationship since 2013 when Mr. Wilson started playing professional football. Football fans who wear Russell Wilson’s No. 3 jersey or a limited edition Alaska’s Russel Wilson shirt can board early for all flights departing from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) or Paine Field (PAE) in Everett during football season.

The Alaska plan is a 737-900ER with the registration of N296AK. It will fly throughout the airline’s network all season but expect to do a fair bit of flying out of Seattle. The 737-900ER serves plenty of routes out of the airline’s largest hub.

Alaska Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson is Alaska’s Chief Football Officer. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Delta’s 12Status program

For the fifth year, Delta Air Lines is bringing back the 12Status program for the 2021-2022 football season after a one-year hiatus. Delta, which brands itself as the Official Airline of the Seahawks, will reward Seahawks fans for the team’s performance on the field.

The 12Status program for the 2021-2022 season will include benefits for new and returning 12Status members. This includes the following benefits:

  • One mile awarded for each Seahawks passing yard during all home and away games
  • Opportunity to attend an exclusive viewing party on Sunday, Nov. 14th, to watch the Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers
  • A grand prize for six members (plus one guest each of their choice) will be awarded travel and accommodation to see the Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, December 19th.
Delta 12Status
Delta Air Lines has brought back its popular 12Status program to appeal to Seattle-area travelers. Photo: Delta Air Lines

12Status program members have earned over 431 million miles over the last four seasons. This includes 3.1 billion total miles redeemed by 12Status members since they joined the program. The airline has also issued 114,030 award tickets flown among 12Status members who have earned miles. Lastly, there were 536 unique award ticket destinations flown among 12Status members since the program launched.

Passengers need to be a SkyMiles member and be a resident of Washington State. To participate, sign up at 12Status.com. To enter for the grand prize, you can do so at the website, but you must be age 18 or older and with a SkyMiles account with entry open from September 9th through October 29th, 2021. No purchase is necessary.

Appealing to Seattle-area travelers

Seattle is one of the most hotly contested airline markets in the United States. Alaska Airlines calls Seattle home, but Delta came in and started building a hub in Seattle, officially opening it in 2014.

Alaska and Delta used to partner. Delta used to be a small player in Seattle and relied on a codeshare with Alaska Airlines to support its long-haul flying. Seattle turned into a Pacific gateway as Delta sought to wind down the Tokyo hub it inherited from the merger with Northwest Airlines in favor of a US hub.

Alaska A320
Alaska Airlines is not giving up on Seattle, which it calls home. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

As Delta added more flying out of Seattle, it decided it was best to pursue building out its own hub in the city instead of relying on Alaska Airlines. Delta then started to build up its hub presence in Seattle and cut its partnership with Alaska in 2017. Alaska Airlines continues to dominate, however.

Along with its regional partners in Horizon and SkyWest, Alaska is the largest airline operating out of Seattle. It also augmented its position by creating a network from Everett’s Paine Field, where it is not looking to create a connecting hub but rather a point-to-point network.

Delta Getty
Delta officially made Seattle a hub in 2014. Photo: Getty Images

A growing fight

Seattle is a very strong market because there is not only a large population base to support leisure flying, but it is also home to some of the largest business institutions. Delta came into this market with an international presence that Alaska could not match. While Alaska flies to more destinations in North America from its hub in Seattle than Delta, the Atlanta-based airline beats Alaska on long-haul international flying.

Delta seemed to be getting stronger in Seattle every year. It added more flying within the US, including Dallas and Columbus, and more frequencies on existing routes. It also has been upgauging flights out of its hub in Seattle.

battle for seattle delta and alaska go after seahawks fans 5 Airplane GEEK Battle For Seattle: Delta And Alaska Go After Seahawks Fans
Delta benefited from Alaska’s narrowbody-only fleet by offering its customers widebody-operated long-haul flights out of Seattle. Photo: Delta Air Lines

However, Alaska Airlines then announced a West Coast alliance with American Airlines. As part of this partnership, the two airlines are codesharing on a wide array of routes. American Airlines is coming in with new long-haul international service to London and Bangalore. The airline also plans on adding Shanghai flights from Seattle when travel restrictions ease.

This puts a challenge for Delta, which spent the last few years becoming Seattle’s premier global hub airline. Alaska Airlines could not compete, given that it does not have widebodies and instead had some looser partnerships.

Now, with American in the mix, Seattle is becoming an even fiercer battleground. While the crisis led all three airlines to take a breather, things are starting to come back, and Alaska Airlines is already priming Seattle for even more growth to support its entrance into the oneworld alliance. Delta, meanwhile, is taking things a little slower.

battle for seattle delta and alaska go after seahawks fans 6 Airplane GEEK Battle For Seattle: Delta And Alaska Go After Seahawks Fans
With Alaska now a member of the oneworld alliance, the heat will be turning up in Seattle. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Nevertheless, both airlines are looking to shore up their local brand presence. This means appealing to local tastes in meals, flying to the destinations customers want to visit, and taking an interest in local brands and promotions. Both airlines are going hard after customers in Seattle. Which airline will emerge victorious, however, remains to be seen.

What do you make of Alaska and Delta fighting for local travelers in Seattle? Let us know in the comments!

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