Delta strikes SkyMiles partnership with Airbnb

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The Airbnb app logo is displayed on an iPhone on Aug. 3, 2016, in London. Carl Court

Delta Air Lines is striking a partnership with Airbnb for frequent fliers to earn miles through bookings with the online home rental company, becoming the first major U.S. airline to do so.

The move signals another step by Airbnb into the mainstream travel industry, with travelers able to book Airbnb stays through Delta’s website at delta.com/airbnb. It also adds a way for Airbnb customers travelers to earn points during their stays, as they can with hotel stays through hotel loyalty programs.

For Atlanta-based Delta, it’s a move to offer more choices to younger customers and others who are turning to different ways of traveling.

“We see a lot of our members, especially the millennials, wanting to gain different experiences with Airbnb,” said Delta’s vice president of SkyMiles Sandeep Dube.

Airbnb historically has been popular among some leisure travelers, but has focused recently on gaining more business travelers. Dube said the company’s research shows a majority of SkyMiles members have used Airbnb at least once, and a significant portion use it on an ongoing basis.

“It was a partner that honestly we went after, and we said, ‘Hey, we want to partner with you,’” Dube said.

Airbnb and Australian airline Qantas recently announced a partnership,  and Virgin America also has a partnership with Airbnb, but no other major U.S. airline has struck a similar deal with Airbnb, according to Delta.

The partnership does not allow Delta customers to use their frequent flier miles to book stays with Airbnb, however. It only allows them to earn miles through Airbnb bookings, at a rate of 1 mile per dollar spent. SkyMiles members can earn miles through Airbnb bookings on Delta’s site even if they are not booking a flight.

Delta is also offering 1,000 bonus miles, a $25 Airbnb discount toward a first stay for those who qualify as new guests and up to 25,000 bonus miles for new Airbnb hosts. The airline is also sponsoring the annual Airbnb Open event and is a “preferred airline” to transport Airbnb employees.


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