3 After todays big merger milestone, Alaska and Virgin America prepare for more exciting changes in 2018

The Single Operating Certificate from the FAA recognizes Alaska and Virgin America as one airline.

Today is a big day for Alaska Airlines. The company received a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, which means the FAA now recognizes Alaska and Virgin America as one airline. It marks a major milestone in the integration of the two airlines.

Through that work, Alaska kept growing by adding 44 routes across its network, in addition to the 38 routes that were added with the acquisition of Virgin America.

Alaska now has the most West Coast nonstop destinations of any airline, and now offers nonstop service to 42 destinations from the Bay Area alone. And with 15 airline partners, Alaska can take its guests to more than 900 destinations around the world.

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Alaska Air Group announced today that Gary Beck will be Horizon Air’s new CEO and president, and Constance von Muehlen will be Horizon’s chief operating officer.

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Scratch the surface of almost any pilot and you’ll find a kid who dreamed of flying.

When Alaska Airlines First Officer Erin Recke was little, she wanted to fly jet fighters. But it wasn’t until one significant day in her mid-20s when her dream really took off.

first officer erin recke Outside of work, pilot shares the gift of flight to lift others

First Officer Erin Recke

“I took a flying lesson just for fun,” she recalled. “But I fell in love the minute we left the runway. I knew right then that flying was going to be my career.”

She built her private pilot’s license into a commercial one, as her planes grew from a single-engine prop to a corporate jet to CRJ’s at a regional airline based out of Atlanta. But the Pacific Northwest called her back home, as did the chance for a job at Alaska.

“I knew the odds of them hiring me would be much greater if I had a Seattle address,” she said, “so I moved here and commuted every week to ATL.”

Her return also gave her the chance to reconnect with a lifelong friend Maureen Griggs, who owns a 1964 Beechcraft Bonanza. And the chance to use her time off to do what she does at work: Fly.

But this time, she would fly for those most in need.

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Music executive Oscar Flores was so nervous about flying that he hadn’t been on an airplane in 22 years.

flores Fear of Flying Clinic helps nervous flyers overcome anxiety to get off the ground

After not flying for 22 years, Oscar Flores showed up to surprise his mother for her birthday.

Thanks to the Fear of Flying Clinic and some caring Alaska Airlines volunteers, Flores gained the courage to fly from Portland to Kansas City to surprise his mother for her birthday.

“I survived!” Flores said after his recent round-trip flight on Alaska Airlines.

That exclamation was music to the ears of Alaska flight attendants Lynn Hodges and Chris King, whose volunteer efforts with the Fear of Flying Clinic helped Flores take a big step that was more than two-decades in the making – and create some priceless memories with his family.

“My entire family told me how proud they were of me,” Flores said.

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img 3741 Flights in Northeast canceled because of massive winter storm

The temperature was minus-5 degrees on New Year’s Day at JFK airport in New York, where Alaska Airlines station supervisor Mellisa Delduca, Dollie Landvatter and Martin Paddock bundled up for work.

UPDATE: 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America continue to keep close watch on a massive winter storm that’s causing problems today in the Northeast with heavy snow and blizzard conditions.

Both airlines have canceled an additional six flights Thursday (Jan. 4) and seven flights Friday (Jan. 5) in and out of New York Kennedy, New York LaGuardia and Newark. Depending on the weather and recovery efforts at the airports, more flights could be canceled.

Since Wednesday, Alaska and Virgin America have canceled more than 85 flights to and from Boston, the three airports in the New York City area and Philadelphia due to the winter storm.

Alaska and Virgin America have implemented flexible travel policies that waive change and cancellation fees for guests who would like to alter their plans to or from affected airports. Learn more at alaskaair.com and virginamerica.com.

All customers are encouraged to check the status of their flights online at alaskaair.com and virginamerica.com, or on Alaska’s mobile app before leaving for the airport.

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People, places, planes! In 2017, we saw more than 58,000 mentions of #iFlyAlaska across social media. Our guests shared stories of employees going above and beyond for them, stunning landscapes from Alaska to Costa Rica, and many shots from the wing. We’re closing out the year with some of our favorites.

Join the conversation in 2018: follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram and make sure to tag your posts with #iFlyAlaska. We can’t wait to follow your adventures.

Wishing you a happy new year!
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Lauren Whiteside of Anchorage, Alaska was recently flying on Alaska Airlines on her way to Austin, Texas, when she experienced utter panic. She’d lost her purse with all her valuables inside.

The saga started when she arrived in Seattle after taking a red-eye from Anchorage and had only 25 minutes to get on a flight to Los Angeles, where she would connect to Austin.

In her rush, she left her purse – with her ID, money and credit cards – on the plane.

She realized her mistake just as the flight to L.A. hit cruising altitude.

“Aaaand then I freaked. Full-freak-out-tears-flowing mode,” she later wrote in a Facebook post.

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When winter weather is forecast, preparation is essential for Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and Virgin America– especially when it comes to the potential for light snow and ice in Seattle and Portland, which are primary hubs.

Whenever conditions get too cold and moisture is present, there’s a chance frost or snow can accumulate on aircraft surfaces. When this happens, a plane needs to be deiced so its surfaces can be clean and clear before takeoff. This season, significant changes have been made in how that work gets done.

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In a child’s world, losing a toy is upsetting. But for a 4-year-old girl named Rougen from Coos Bay, Oregon, the polka-dotted, stuffed dog named Bubba left behind on her flight was more than just a toy. It was a memory of her brother.

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