people boarding a flight

When you arrive at the airport for a flight, you probably have your routine down. To get to your gate with time to spare, you should be arriving two to three hours before your flight (depending on what airport you are departing from, whether you are checking bags, and whether your flight is domestic or international).  Maybe you check in at a kiosk and self-tag your bag to save a bit of time so you can grab a Starbucks once you clear security.

During that time, Alaska employees are working hard to prepare your flight. As the No. 1 on-time airline in North America, Alaska Airlines has it down to something of a science. So what is going on behind the scenes to make sure your flight gets off the ground safely and on time?

By the time you get to your gate, you may have already missed a lot of the magic, and a lot of the action happens out of view.

Here are just a few things going behind the scenes:

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Photo courtesy of UNCF

Dureti Jamal always knew she wanted to go to college. She just didn’t know how to get there.

As a first-generation college applicant, she didn’t know how to build a resume. She’d never heard of the Common App and didn’t know where to look for potential scholarships.

Then Jamal heard of the Portfolio Project, a program of theUNCF (United Negro College Fund) that provides mentorship and guidance to minority high school students as they navigate the college application project.

“Neither of my parents went to college, so I knew I would have to find help with the applications,” she said. “I definitely could not have done that on my own. I didn’t know anything about the college process – I don’t know what I would have done.”

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Last year was a big year for Alaska Mileage Plan members. While the airline was busy adding new benefits, members were literally flying around the world.

Over the course of 12 months, Alaska’s frequent fliers said goodbye to foreign transaction fees on their Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards and enjoyed new perks including lower prices for award travel, increased mileage earning on select global partners, and upgradable award tickets for elite members. In the meantime, they were flying. A lot.

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1 p.m., Feb. 6 update

Alaska Airlines continues to respond to ongoing snowfall at its largest hub. In anticipation of additional flight cancellations expected for this evening, we’re extending our flexible travel policy. That means customers can change or cancel flights online at no additional cost. Learn more here.

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Astronaut Michael Barratt chats with participants in the Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program's day-long event at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash. on Feb. 4, 2017. Funded in part by Alaska Airlines, the program enables underserved children in grades 6-8 to learn about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and participate in the museumÕs educational flight and aerospace programs.

Sara Zaki used to think she’d like to be a doctor when she grows up. That was before she spent three formative middle school years as a Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program scholar.

Today? The 17-year-old Running Start student plans to be a pilot. An African-American female pilot, to be precise. Because “you just don’t hear about a lot of those.”

Zaki spent three years in the program, which was created in 2008 to honor the memory of astronaut Michael P. Anderson. Anderson, a Spokane, Washington, native, was killed 2003 in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The program is run by a board of volunteers and features six events each year, the first of which is hosted by the Museum of Flight. The goal is to reach underrepresented youth of color across the state and inspire them to dream bigger about the future.

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Photo courtesy of Rick Ostraat

Being on a plane can be stressful for a lot of people. But for children with autism, it can be an especially overwhelming and even frightening.

Alaska Airlines helped make the travel experience easier for 53 families this past Saturday during the “Sky’s the Limit” event at Portland International Airport.

The event aims to alleviate some of the stress when flying for families who have a child with autism.

Read more: 5 tips for traveling with a child on the autism spectrum

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Whether you’re snorkeling at Hanauma Bay on Oahu, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge or flying by Mount Rainier on a sunny day, Instagram allows you to share photos and videos of all aspects of your life.

More than 18,000 employees and teammates are employed at Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and Virgin America. They spend their work hours taking care of the 40 million passengers who fly each year, and their free time enjoying that airline employee life.

Check out six Alaska, Horizon and Virgin America Instagrammers who have found creative ways to showcase their adventures through photos on their Instagram accounts. And, don’t forget to follow Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

These are employees’ personal accounts linked with permission, not official company accounts. All views expressed are the employees’ own and not endorsed by Alaska (but we do love their photo skills!)

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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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