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There are the normal things co-workers do to show caring for each other – covering a shift when there’s a family emergency, delivering soup to a colleague with a cold, bringing in treats to celebrate a special occasion.

And then, there is undergoing major surgery to have a kidney removed to be transplanted into a co-worker to save her life. That is what Anchorage-based Capt. Jodi Harskamp is doing for Flight Attendant Jenny Stansel, also of Anchorage.

Harskamp will undergo surgery on March 13 and, with a successful transplant, give Stansel a new lease on life.

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Picture of Weekend Wanderer Nick Becerra

Residing in Seattle, Washington, Nick Becerra is a photographer and family man with a taste for adventure. Capturing images from the mountain tops is no easy job, but Nick knows just how to bring those beautiful views to the small screen. He just returned from an Instagram takeover in Whitefish, Montana as part of Alaska’s Weekend Wanderer series. For more Weekend Wanderer posts, be sure to follow Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

How much can you pack in during a weekend in a brand new place? That’s just what Alaska Airlines asked my family and I to find out as we traveled from Seattle to Whitefish, Montana. We jumped at the opportunity and immediately began researching the incredible options in the greater Whitefish area … a place we soon found out is an outdoor recreation paradise. 

We packed our skis, took the kids (ages 12 and 6) out of school for a couple of days (they were thrilled!), and booked a cozy cabin 10 minutes outside of Glacier National Park. Soon enough we walked the tarmac and boarded a small Alaska plane for the short flight to Kalispell, which felt a world away when we landed on Thursday afternoon.

We have lift off! The mountains were out in full Cascadian glory this morning as we hopped onto our @AlaskaAir flight to Whitefish, MT. What a glorious day to head east!

We have lift off! The mountains were out in full Cascadian glory this morning as we hopped onto our @AlaskaAir flight to Whitefish, MT. What a glorious day to head east!

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With the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America complete, two award-winning airlines are joining forces to provide a great customer experience. This week, Virgin America Elevate members are being invited to activate new Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan accounts and convert points to earn and redeem rewards across both networks.

You can take your Elevate points with you, too! Alaska Airlines has created new Mileage Plan accounts for Elevate members and is offering members a chance to transfer their points with a 30 percent bonus (e.g., 1,000 Elevate points = 1,300 Alaska miles). Members who have Elevate Gold or Silver status will be matched to comparable elite tiers in Mileage Plan.

Virgin America customers have grown used to the benefits they receive from Elevate, but there are fundamental differences between Elevate and Mileage Plan—not better or worse, just different. Some readers may also be taking a fresh look at Mileage Plan since Alaska Airlines is providing more opportunities than ever to reach your destination. I’ll try to explain how you can continue to get great rewards as a frequent traveler.

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An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 painted with the airline's new tail logo and livery Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. This month, Alaska Airlines revealed the most substantial updates to its brand in a quarter century. Beginning Jan. 25, Alaska fliers will see the visual updates in new signage at the airport, an all-new airplane paint job, a refreshed website and mobile app, and more.

For the fourth year in a row, The Wall Street Journal ranked Alaska Airlines No. 1 among the nine largest U.S. carriers in its 2016 Airline Scorecard.

Aside from taking the overall top spot, Alaska was first in on-time arrivals and had the fewest extreme delays, fewest 2-hour tarmac delays and fewest complaints. Alaska took third in the canceled flights and involuntary bumping, and fourth in mishandled bags.

“This is a fantastic testament to the skill and dedication of our people,” said CEO Brad Tilden. “The rest of the leadership team and I want to thank all of you for the many things you’ve done across the board, including the particular focus on bags- to keep us No. 1 in our customers’ eyes.”

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A documentary filmmaker and photographer working in Havana, Cuba, Amberly Alene captures the colorful vibrancy and culture of the Caribbean through a photographic eye. She recently took over the Alaska Airlines Instagram account as a “Local Wanderer” as a part of Alaska’s Weekend Wanderer series. To see more local flavors of the world, make sure you’re following Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

The streets of Havana have their own unique melody. The rumbling of taxi engines and the calls of street vendors collide with the sounds of pop music and bachata from the speakers of bici-taxi drivers. The boom of a reggeton beat may greet your ear at the passing of an arch of any given doorway in a centuries old apartment building in Havana Vieja. For me, each day in Havana is a ballad. It is an intricate song with a special melody. There is a constant rhythm of day to day life that makes the city so famously unforgettable.

amberly top four Local Wanderer: Eclectic live music in Havana, Cuba

The daily sounds of Havana are the inspirations for my top five picks of Havana’s live music for an eclectic ear. These are my favorite selections for a great night of music in Havana:
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11 a.m. Jan. 9 update 

Wintry weather is continuing to create travel issues in Portland today. As of 11 a.m., Horizon Air has canceled 24 flights into and out of the airport due to icy conditions. There were also three cancellations into and out of Eugene and five cancellations into and out of Redmond, Oregon.

The weather has continued to evolve since Sunday with freezing rain in each of these cities. Deicing of the aircraft is required whenever there’s frozen precipitation, so cancellations in these locations were made to account for the time needed for this process.

Passengers are encouraged to check alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile app before heading to the airport to verify the status of their flight. A flexible travel policy is in place. Customers impacted by this weather event are able to rebook their flight online or apply for a refund online at alaskaair.com, without paying a change fee. As a result of the volume of cancellations, customers are advised to change their travel online, if possible.

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When Alaska Airlines began service to Havana on Jan. 5, it wasn’t the first time the airline had flown to Cuba.

In the early 1970s, Alaska flew U.S. Military Airlift Command charter flights to the base at Guantanamo Bay, as well as charters to Caribbean locations such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Panama.

Some of the flight attendants from that era still fly for Alaska Airlines today, including Julia Simmonds, Joanne De Cicco, Lynn Odell and Gail Spaeth, as well as Jackie Fay, now a lead reservations sales agent.

“It was all very exciting for a young woman of 20 years of age,” Simmonds said. “We flight attendants were still in our VERY short Russian uniforms at the time, which the military men enjoyed very much.”

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Alaska flies to Cuba

“You have to hurry. They’re starting now!”

I’ve come to Matanzas, a historic Cuban city between Havana and the beach resort of Varadero, for a little beach break in a historic, idyllic town with plenty of bayside colonial charm.

But first, I want to see some baseball.

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An Alaska Airlines jet waits, covered in snow, at Sea-Tac International Airport on Jan. 1, 2017. Media: This photo may be shared, courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

7 p.m. update

A total of 36 flights were canceled as a result of this morning’s snow and ice. No further cancellations are anticipated, however many flights continue to experience delays. Customers with travel planned today and tomorrow are encouraged to check the status of their flights at alaskaair.com before heading to the airport.

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Cojimar, Cuba. Cojimar, just a few minutes east of Havana is a picturesque fishing village where Hemingway docked his boat El Pilar. Not only did he use the town as a base for fishing, Cojimar was the background for one of his most famous works, The Old Man and the Sea. The Ôold manÕ in the title is reputedly his guide Gregorio Fuentes, a Cojimar local.

Inside one of Havana’s most famous bars, El Floridita, several dozen people are singing along to choruses led by a dynamic salsa singer. A circle of New York couples and an Argentine with two cigars stuffed in his shirt pocket all dance before the singer’s five-piece band. Most of the patrons have ordered icy daiquiris in thin-stemmed cocktail glasses, a famous drink from El Floridita, which turns 200 this year.

Seeming to watch all this is a bronze sculpture of Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize–winning American author who lived in Havana from 1940 to 1960. Now he leans against the bar in the same spot where he was known to enjoy a dozen or so daiquiris a day.

After a half-century hiatus, Americans are returning to this island nation, just under 100 miles from Florida. I’m finding that Hemingway’s footsteps provide a timeless introduction, starting with his writings. To Have and Have Not begins in Plaza de San Francisco; parts of Islands in the Stream were influenced by his nights on the island; and his articles for Esquire talk about his offshore chase for marlin. He dedicated his 1954 Nobel Prize to the Cuban people.

Learn more: Alaska Airlines’ new flights to Cuba

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