Delta’s ticket counter after hours inside the Juneau Airport. Delta has been consisting offering daily flights in and out of Alaska to Seattle throughout the year, though that is expected to change starting in October. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Delta’s ticket counter after hours inside the Juneau Airport. Delta has been consisting offering daily flights in and out of Alaska to Seattle throughout the year, though that is expected to change starting in October. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Fewer fall flights expected, but Delta says year-round service to continue in Juneau

Daily flights expected until October.

Delta Air Lines will scale back the number of flights between Juneau and Seattle starting in October, according to Delta’s network planning team, but the airline has long-term plans in the capital city.

Delta’s senior manager of corporate communications Alexandra Packey said that Delta will switch from this summer’s daily flights to twice weekly flights from October through April and increase back to daily service in May, which is one month earlier than the typical June timeline.

“We’ll be making changes and reductions to our schedule in the weeks to come to adjust for the upcoming winter season, a standard practice of airlines based on seasonal demand,” Packey said. “In terms of context around our daily operations, it’s no surprise that summer is one of our busiest seasons/times across the globe and that applies to our Alaska markets, as well. Delta is committed to Juneau and Alaska overall and will continue to look for opportunities to expand service.”

Delta’s station manager in Juneau Brandon Aldrich said daily operations have been running smoothly.

“Flights have been full, we’ve been very successful on that end, especially with a new team coming on board,” Aldrich said. “All of the employees seem really excited about having the opportunity to be working here year-round and provide that service to Juneau.”

While this year is the first time in years Delta has offered year-round service to Juneau, it’s far from Delta’s first foray into the market. Delta has long had an on-again-off-again presence in the capital city. Service has fluctuated between nonexistent, year-round and (most recently) seasonal over the past decades.

While year-round service isn’t new to the market, the plane they’ve brought with them is a novel factor.

Delta is currently using a Boeing 737 for service in and out of Alaska, and Delta’s customer service supervisor Shaun Lujan said that has made all the difference in terms of remaining successful within the Juneau market.

“We’ve been using a 737 for the past three years for Delta coming in,” said Lujan. “It’s actually been a lot better than the 757 that we had, and the CRJ that was here for that one time that we went year-round, but other than that the 737 has been great, our pilots and flight crew have been amazing coming in.”

Lujan added that while there are plans in place to change to an Airbus A319 in January, those plans could possibly change. In years past, Delta has relied on a 757 model, which Alaska travel expert Scott McMurren said was the main cause for Delta’s on-again-off-again presence.

“That was an issue when Delta came back 8 years ago with year-round service. That summer when they came in with the 757, it wouldn’t even line up with the jetways,” said McMurren. “When winter came, Delta dropped in an ERJ model operated by Skywest. For whatever reason, it had lower minimums and resulted in lots of delays.”

McMurren runs the newsletter Alaska Travelgram and writes a travel column in the Anchorage Daily News, so a significant portion of his job is tracking various flights in and out of Alaska.

According to McMurren, Delta’s renewed presence in Juneau is an attempt to eke out an advantage in an ongoing fight for Seattle.

“Alaska and Delta are in a deathmatch for Seattle. Delta’s hub is in Seattle, and year-round service increases the value of their Seattle hub, particularly for Alaska residents, which they want to attract,” McMurren said. “Furthermore, it gives a lot more value to Delta’s loyalty programs, particularly when there’s year-round service.”

That presence likely means savings for travelers.

“Delta has year-round service to Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. The three biggest markets in Alaska are connected to Seattle and Delta’s global network.” McMurren said. “So, the thing for Juneau travelers to remember is that having that one Delta flight in there is the equivalent of having a 50% discount on all flights to Seattle. If the Delta flight goes away, flights will go up.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

Delta’s Boeing 737 lands onto a Juneau International Airport runway after a flight from Seattle. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Delta’s Boeing 737 lands onto a Juneau International Airport runway after a flight from Seattle. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

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