Honoring those who serve: Alaska Airlines unveils its newest livery

Alaska Airlines Tribute to Veterans Livery Flyaway

By offering complimentary travel to veterans on Honor Flights, priority boarding for active duty military and donations to numerous non-profit military organizations, Alaska Airlines has long been a proud supporter of the United States military. But today, Alaska unveiled its largest (and heaviest) honor to date – a Boeing 737-900ER with a customized paint job to honor the brave men and women of the armed forces and their families.

The livery is part of a new initiative called “Alaska Airlines Salutes,” which combines the many employee-led efforts to support and honor those who serve. The design features an Alaska Airlines Salutes medallion and a fallen soldier badge, with the Battlefield Cross to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The plane also features five rings surrounding the engine, representative of the five branches of the United States military, and American flag winglets.

The process of creating a military-themed livery began more than two years ago when Alaska Airlines line aircraft technicians Kevin Kruse, Brett Megran and Brian Bowden decided to pitch the idea to Alaska Airlines executives.

The three technicians are part of a group of employees who created Alaska’s Fallen Solider program in 2011. The program ensures that the remains of fallen soldiers are transported to their final resting place in a respectful and dignified manner and includes customized baggage carts that the group has delivered to six of Alaska’s largest airports.

“We were sitting around one night in Portland, brainstorming other ideas to support the military,” Megran said. “At that point we had the Fallen Soldier cart, we had the Fallen Soldier belt loader in Seattle, so we thought, ‘why not have an airplane too?’”

“With Alaska Airlines’ history of having outstanding and unique liveries, we knew that we could come up with one that would proudly honor our United States military,” said Kruse.

After their pitch meeting with the entire executive team, Kruse, Megran and Bowden were prepared to answer several questions. However, when their presentation was over, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and other company leaders were immediately supportive.

“Leaders at Alaska empower us to take action. That’s really what the ‘Alaska Spirit’ means to me – we’re empowered to have dreams. For Brian, Kevin and me, this airplane is a dream, more than four years in the making, that has finally become a reality that we can share with the world,” said Megran. “It’s going to have such an effect on so many people’s lives. They’ll see the airplane and know that Alaska cares about them.”

Many of the ways in which Alaska Airlines supports the military are the direct result of employees’ efforts.

Alaska Airlines’ Fallen Soldier program

The Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Program was pioneered by a group of maintenance employees in 2011, who believed that the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice deserved special care and attention upon their return to their respective burial sites. The group volunteered to design and build a cart dedicated solely to transporting fallen soldiers, and researched the protocol of each branch of the military for handling soldiers’ remains. Alaska’s protocol includes wearing special vests, notifying flight crews and providing escort for the remains from the time they arrive to the time they depart.

Today, Alaska Airlines has dedicated carts in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.. While the carts remain under Alaska’s care at each of these locations, they are available for any airline to use when transporting soldiers’ remains.

Honor Flights

Alaska Airlines is the only airline to operate Honor Flights in the state of Alaska. The first Honor Flight to depart the state of Alaska was in 2012 and was inspired by one veteran living in Fairbanks. When Robert Ingram, a World War II veteran, revealed that he had never been to see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C, Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airlines’ regional vice president in the state of Alaska, arranged to give him and one of his fellow veterans the trip of a lifetime.

“When I flew to Fairbanks to tell Robert the news, his face lit up,” Romano said. “Robert was a beacon in the Fairbanks community, and he told me that with this trip, his bucket list was finally complete.”

Today, Alaska Airlines has flown more than 600 World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans from Alaska, Washington and Oregon to Washington, D.C. to view their war memorials through the National Honor Flight network and the Last Frontier Honor Flight.

The Freedom Award

In 2016, Alaska Airlines received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for its support of National Guard and Reserve employees. More than 2,000 companies were nominated for the award and Alaska Airlines was among the 15 companies selected this year.

Alaska Airlines was nominated for the Freedom Award by two Anchorage-based employees, Cargo Supervisor, Paul Miller, who serves in the Army National Guard, and First Officer Caleb Haley, who serves in the Air Force Reserve.

Continued support

Alaska Airlines works with several military support organizations to ensure that those who serve their country return to a welcoming and supportive community. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members can donate their miles to Hero Miles, a program that provides air travel for wounded, injured or ill service members who are undergoing treatment, and their family members. Since 2014, more than 7.4 million miles have been donated to this cause.

49 Comments on “Honoring those who serve: Alaska Airlines unveils its newest livery

  1. Another reason Alaska Air rates #1 with me. Thanks for this one.

  2. I admire Alaska for taking the lead in supporting our men and women in uniform. I particularly liked the part about three Alaska employees who had an idea to paint a plane, took it to executive management and received immediate support. While many other companies in the USA think Sr. Management has all the answers, Alaska creates an environment where employees feel empowered to put their most creative foot forward.

  3. There are few things that engender as much employee pride and company loyalty as seeing employee-originated initiatives come to life. Thank you for setting the bar here. I will be sharing this with others in our company’s management team.

  4. What a lovely airplane. Blue for the Sky and Blue for Heaven.

  5. As an Active Duty Coastguardsman I appreciate what you guys do to make travel easier for military members.

  6. I’m so proud of Alaska Airlines. Great employer for 23 years and they are always striving to go above and beyond.

  7. I am so glad I signed up to read your blog. What a great tribute that will be flying almost for ever. Time has stood still for my youngest son, a Green Beret; he is some wheres, buried in Viet Nam. Knowing Alaska will always be remembering our service personnel, they will never to be forgotten

  8. This is a great program. Thank you and your company for recognizing the Viet Nam Vets. My husband served during that war and has never seen the Wall Of Honor for the fallen men of that war.

    • This is another example of how much Alaska Airlines cares for its customers. They did a great deal to help us return home First Class when my wife had three breaks from pelvis to leg due to a fall while we were in Hawaii. i am a veteran of WW II and also Korea.

      L.D. Hawkinson CDR, USNR-RET

  9. Thanks!!! This is really appreciated. I’m a Viet Nam Vet. Have been flying on Alaska Airlines since 1959.

  10. Alaska Airlines continues to impress me in the way that they honor our military. The Patriot Guard Riders have had the distinct privilege of being part of many transfers and dedication ceremonies of the dignified transfer carts. We were invited to be a part of the dedication ceremony of this special aircraft as well.

    Thank you Alaska Airlines for your continued support and dedication to our military and their families.

  11. I deeply appreciate how you are honoring our men and women in uniform. What would mean a great deal more so is for the airlines to give the military, especially the enlisted personnel stationed in Alaska a very good discount rate to fly home. Currently for example, airline fare for my son to fly home (WA or FL) is at least $600.00 to $800.00. We just cannot afford this. I deeply appreciate the airline considering this. It would mean a great deal to so many families. Thank you for your consideration.

    • A wonderful way for Alaska Airlines to express their Veteran appreciation and reveal it over their entire route system.
      Congratulations to the 3 employees who came up with this idea. Walt Turner.

  12. As a mother of a son who is still active duty in the Navy for over 20 years (and who just came home from his 5th deployment in the Middle East), I especially appreciate your commitment to our military. Thanks for honoring them.

  13. Alaska has always been the clever ones! Our fallen soldiers and those serving and have served deserve this recognition. Thank you for this amazing ‘fly in the sky’ spirit of America! Linda Cantrell

  14. I am a veteran, and I cannot wait to make a flight in this aircraft. Thank you to Alaska Airlines for supporting active duty service members and veterans.

  15. Alaska Airlines shows its respect for people in so many ways, this one puts them further out front as as a company that one wants to do business with.

  16. Thank you Alaska Airlines for honoring veterans! AL is always my first choice! Next step, early boarding for veterans AND a special frequent flyer card for vets. Maybe with a picture of this plane on it. ALL gave some, SOME gave all!

    • I absolutely agree! Love the Vet Frequent Flyer Card idea 🙂

  17. Great concept and honor for all who served. …Semper Fi.

    Captain Felix Mendoza
    USMC

  18. I am a Canadian veteran served for 34 years. We have used alaska and horizon air for many years and many destinations and thank them for their service. We also have alaska credit cards too boot. We know of the good works of our brothers and sisters in arms of the USA and would like to see some mention of the veterans of Canada too. Also West jet and Air Canada allow veterans luggage on all flights free. How about horizon and alaska doing the same. Cheers. Dale Dirks

  19. Just another reason I choose Alaska Airlines at every opportunity. As the parent of a military spouse, grandmother to 4 military kids and the honored in-law of a Lt. Colonel in the Army, we thank you. There is never enough recognition for those who serve or have served but Alaska Air leads the pack!!

  20. What a wonderful thing Alaska Airlines is doing by honoring our military, especially our fallen heroes, in all the ways they do. Wish I could have been there to help dedicate the new livery.

    Your company is the greatest – and honoring our military is just one more reason why it is my all time favorite airline! Keep up the great work.

  21. Thank you for welcoming ideas from your employees! What a great company and it shows in the people you hire. My family enjoys flying with Alaska very much. As a 100% service connected disabled vet, I appreciated this particular project very much. I have no need to travel anywhere, but would like to offer my services if you need volunteers to work on any worthwhile project.

  22. Once again Alaska Airlines shows superior customer care by honoring those who have and who are currently serving. My husband has served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and I served during Vietnam. We both know the feeling of being acknowledged and deeply appreciate Alaska Air’s outstanding statement to our country. Thank You, Linda and Robert Bernhardt

  23. Kenneth F. Goodrich,
    Thank you for recognizing the Vets. I served in Viet Nam late 67 -68, my father served in 2nd world War, Gran father served in the first world War, all of us came home, all proud to serve our country.
    My family and I frequently travel Alaska Airline, from the East Coast to Alaska, we have enjoyed the
    your service and your strong belief in this Great Country of the USA and it’s Veteran’s.
    Once again,Thank You.

  24. Can not say enough about Alaska Airlines. We fly from BNA to FAI rather frequently on no other airlines but Alaska Airlines. What a way to honor our men and women in the armed services! My husband is retired from the Marine Corps after 27+ years and served in Vietnam. Thank you for recognizing your employees’ initiative. Continue your excellent work.

  25. Bret Megran is a good friend of ours. We can attest that he has taken this idea very seriously from the beginning and was passionate to work with everyone at Alaska to make sure it came to fruition. He learned alot in the process. He was just busting with smiles and pride when he announced to us that the plane was done and the program had started. God bless him for his intuition and service.

  26. The best airline ever. I’ve been flying Alaska since it was Alaska Coastal Ellis all off the water in S/E Alaska Jim Middaugh

  27. Thank you Alaska Airlines, for all your support to our armed forces.

  28. As the daughter of a WWII veteran and the daughter-in-law of an Alaska Airlines pilot, this makes me very appreciative of our local airlines. And of course, this being a Boeing plane is icing. My father was a navigator on a B-17 and after retuning from the war and receiving an education, joined the Air Force where he served for over 20 years. My father-in-law was an Alaska Airlines pilot for over 30 years, the Boeing 727 being his favorite plane to fly. Thank you Alaska, for honoring our veterans and our country.

  29. As a Vietnam era Veteran and as a retired member of Alaska Air Group (Horizon Air) I can honestly say it makes me proud to see the well deserved recognition for our service members, past and present.

  30. As an Alaska Airline frequent flyer and as a veteran (Vietnam) this story reinforces why I appreciate Alaska Airlines. From the original idea by the three employees to the quick approval by management to the details included in the airplane color scheme, it is all a ‘class act.’ Thank you Alaska Airlines!!

  31. There are some things that America does so extremely well; and this is one such gesture! It makes me proud to be your neighbor.
    Don Johnson
    LCol (Ret’d)
    Royal Canadian Air Force

  32. A big Thank You to my hometown airline. Such a wonderful way to honor our military. I will look to the skies in order to see this special plane flying by and hope to fly on it in the future.

  33. Love the new paint scheme! I would like to see more done for Vets though. Priority boarding perhaps or maybe free upgrade to first class? These men & women risked their lives too keep us safe & our country free.

  34. Although I saw no action during my military career, I was cognizant of the fact that I could have been called to action, and stood ready at all times.

    My wife and I fly nothing but Alaska Airlines.

    Thank you.

  35. A superlative over-the-top effort of veteran recognition. Well done!! It’s regrettable more corners of corporate America cannot follow your lead. Alaska Airlines is the airline of choice whenever possible. Keep up the great service. Retired airline pilot and veteran.

  36. Tears in my eyes thank you Alaska Airlines for this tribute to our military, bless them all and you.

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