SEATTLE, Wash. -- Alaska Airlines is upgrading many of its planes this month, including new seats and menus. It also just added new destinations from Seattle to Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, and Charleston. However, travel experts can`t help but wonder if the timing has anything to do with Delta Airlines coming to town.
To understand a battle brewing over the skies in the Pacific Northwest, we start on a football field. Alaska Airlines scored Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as its "Chief Football Officer," as the company`s much bigger opponent Delta made a play of its own, when it carried the Seahawks team to and from the Super Bowl this year.
“About a year and a half ago, we consummated the deal with the Seahawks and the Sounders, two of our beloved sports teams here in Seattle,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s Vice President.
Delta Air Lines
Medeiros said it`s part of the company`s strategy to invest in communities where it will expand. The company went from offering 35 flights at Sea-Tac airport to 127.
“The Pacific Northwest and Seattle is one of the fastest growing areas in the country by far,” said Medeiros.
But Alaska isn`t just sitting on the sidelines. Through its Alaska Beyond flight last month, the company showcased its plane`s newest features, including upgraded seats, with power charging stations, and an in-flight entertainment system to watch movies on your tablet or smartphone. Award-winning Seattle chef Tom Douglas was even on-board, introducing local menu items that he helped create.
“So it`s really important that we take good care of our Seattle partners and part of that is showing our ties to Seattle,” said Alaska Vice President Joe Sprague.
Travel analysts say the winner in this competition right now is the consumer as prices stay competitive as well services, but they fear if Delta positions itself to take over Alaska, then there will be consequences.
“That has bad news written all over it with passengers in the Northwest and Alaska because it will simply take away choice and take away competition,” said Travel Analyst Steve Danishek.
Delta executives wouldn`t reveal their long-term plans for SeaTac, but believe there`s currently enough room for two major players.
“If you look at the two financial results of the two major carriers here in Seattle over the last year; both carriers did very well, “said Medeiros.
Alaska is still Seattle’s largest carrier, providing flights to 83 destinations. Delta offers 33.