Alaska and Virgin America: Creating an airline people love

Imagine arriving at the airport and immediately feeling welcomed to a fresh, modern experience.

You know you’ll reach your destination on time with minimal hassle, and the airline you’ve chosen offers consistently low fares and more nonstop flights to more destinations from the West Coast than any other. At your gate, you can’t help Shazaming every song on the upbeat playlist, and the overhead announcements tell you what you need to know with a healthy dose of fun.

On the plane, you make your way to a comfortable leather seat in a mood-lit cabin. For the next three hours, you’ll enjoy fresh, West Coast-inspired food and drinks; Free Chat with friends and family on the ground via iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp; and all the free movies you have time to watch. Not to mention the personal power outlets throughout the cabin, so your devices arrive at your destination as ready for adventure as you are.

Your airline is unconventional, just like you are.

It’s 2019 and this is how we’re defining the future of Alaska Airlines. Every element from the most functional (the welcome message on the airport kiosk) to most expressive (the lights and music brightening the lobby) has been carefully curated with the idea of making each travel experience truly enjoyable.

After months of research and in-depth conversations with fliers, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire the Virgin America name and logo likely sometime in 2019. However, many of the elements you love about Virgin America will live on, paired with Alaska’s unbeatable performance and top-rated customer service. Our colleagues at Virgin America built something truly amazing over the past decade, and it’s our goal to honor what they achieved while taking it one step further.

After months of in-depth conversations with loyal Virgin America guests and long-time Alaska fans, we’re ready to take what we’ve learned and make it reality – with a twist.

New and expanded amenities:

Low fares and convenient flights to the places you want to go

Alaska and Virgin America have been actively growing their newly combined networks since officially merging in December 2016. Earlier this month, we announced 21 new markets with 25 new daily departures out of San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California – marking the largest addition of routes in company history.

Modern, warm and welcoming vibe

You’ll begin to see some of the new Alaska brand personality come to life throughout 2017, to create a warm and welcoming West Coast vibe throughout the guest journey. Music from fresh new artists will be featured on planes, in airport lobbies and at gates. In 2018, we’ll debut an entirely redesigned cabin with new seats and amenities, and we’ve already started to retrofit select Boeing aircraft with expressive blue mood lighting. Modern, stylish uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang will roll out in mid-2019 for flight attendants, customer service agents, pilots, mechanics and ground crew.

Reliable, high-speed Internet

Many of the fliers surveyed shared that they’re frustrated with unreliable in-flight Wi-Fi. Alaska’s leaders heard them loud and clear, and beginning in fall 2018 will be retrofitting all Boeing passenger jets with high-speed satellite Wi-Fi (fast enough to watch movies or TV shows via your favorite streaming service!), with the remainder of the Airbus fleet to follow. Both fleets are planned to be fully satellite-equipped by the end of 2019.

More premium seats

Earlier this year, Alaska introduced a brand-new Premium Class seating section with 35 inches of pitch and complimentary beer, wine and cocktails. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018, the airline will add 18 new Premium Class seats to Airbus aircraft, as well as adding first class seats (going from eight seats to 12) customized for enhanced comfort: 41 inches of pitch, improved seatback storage pockets, cup holders, footrests and personal power outlets throughout the cabin.

More rewards

In 2018, Alaska Mileage Plan will become the sole loyalty program for both airlines, offering guests more rewards, an expansive global partner network and the only major airline loyalty program that still rewards a mile flown with a mile earned on Alaska and Virgin America flights. Members of Alaska Mileage Plan enjoy some of the most generous benefits in the industry including complimentary upgrades, award travel starting at 5,000 miles one-way (plus taxes and fees) and a faster path to elite status compared to other airlines. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, members can earn and redeem miles to more than 900 destinations worldwide.

Complimentary upgrades

With expanded premium seating options comes more opportunities for complimentary upgrades for elite loyalty program members. Alaska’s elite-level frequent fliers enjoy the industry’s most generous upgrade policy. Mileage Plan MVP Golds and above are upgraded to First Class or Premium Class 75 percent of the time (based on average historic system wide rates of upgrade) on Alaska Airlines flights. Complimentary upgrades on Airbus flights will debut for the first time ever in late 2018 – a brand-new perk for Virgin America elites.

Free movies

In January, we made our entire catalog of more than 200 direct-to-your-device premium in-flight movies and TV shows free. Starting now, free entertainment on guests’ own devices will be a permanent feature on our Boeing fleet and the same free library of movies and TV shows will expand to Airbus aircraft via Red entertainment system in August 2017. Guests on Airbus aircraft will continue to enjoy access to early release movies for purchase.

Free Chat

Also in January, Alaska became the first and only airline to offer Free Chat onboard, allowing guests to stay connected to friends and family on the ground via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage. In August 2017, we’ll introduce Free Chat to Airbus-operated flights.

West Coast-inspired food and beverage

Together with Virgin America, we’re continuing to enhance our fresh, healthy, West Coast-inspired onboard food and beverage menus. Guests of both airlines enjoy craft brews, premium wines and delicious food options. By June 2017, Alaska First Class passengers will be able to pre-select meals before they fly, and by early 2018, Alaska’s Main Cabin passengers will be able to pre-pay for their meals before they fly. Food pre-ordering will be extended to Airbus flights sometime in the future

Lounge expansion

By early 2019, guests will enjoy refreshed and expanded airport lounges in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. Alaska also plans to build brand-new lounges in San Francisco and at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Together, the expansion plans will double the square footage of our existing airport lounges. And don’t forget – Alaska Lounge members also enjoy access to more than 60 partner lounges throughout the United States and around the world.

What other elements or amenities would you love to see onboard in the future?

418 Comments on “Alaska and Virgin America: Creating an airline people love

  1. Hi,
    How about including a bag with no additional charge?
    Maria

  2. Does this mean you aren’t going to have the screen on the seatbacks any more? Virgin has been my airline of choice since my first flight with them. A large part was because of that screen .. I could watch tv, movies, set up my own playlist of music, switch to the map to see where we were at that moment and I could also order food/beverages directly from this screen and swipe my card at the bottom to pay .. incredibly efficient! Please don’t do away with this feature!

  3. I love the ordering system that Virgin used for food and drink– so much better than the cart rolled down the aisle!

  4. A non-stop from Portland Or to Wenatchee Washington would be a nice additional route.

  5. You advertise new section in January with more legroom! I book it and you change the planes! Not right! NBA

  6. Please merge the Virgin Credit card with Alaska so that I can have a free checked bag when I fly Alaska. I currently hold a Virgin CC. thanks! diane

  7. I love flying Alaska Airlines and have done so for many years. As a traveler from Alaska, most flights are at least 3 hours long. I would appreciate if future seating had memory foam as hard seats are the most uncomfortable part of a long flight next to cramped leg room. And foot rests would be wonderful, too.

  8. Definitely like Virgins on demand food and drink. Also Virgin seemed to have adequate space for us tall folks. I’d hate to see that limited to the more expensive seating

  9. It would be most appreciated if you removed the sheer curtain between first and coach class. As a 75K I not only sit in first class, but because I fly last minute quite often, I also sit in row 6 frequently. While in flight the curtain “falls” backward into the space of the coach seats, which are crammed enough. I’m not sure what the intended purpose of the curtain is, but it is obviously more of a annoyance than a help of any kind.

  10. Could seats be an inch wider, also a foot stool that would retract from the seat in front of me or a way to extend the seat cushion forward a little under the knees would be nice.
    Ordering food through an app/screen will eliminate the food cart on Alaska flights, this seems to work just fine on Virgin. Seat pocket should be able to hold a small bottle of water and a pair of over the head headphones. Lower or eliminate first checked bag fee in effort to cut down on the over stuffing of the overhead compartments.

  11. Need to keep the Red eye to Orlando all year round!!!!

  12. I would love to see the console between the seats in first class be moveable so you actually have a bench seat to share with your flying partner for a lot more room on long flights. Also a foot rest would be so nice!

  13. OMG! Great news on the merger! I love it that my number 1 and 2 airlines are now one. This can only be a win-win situation for travelers. My only request is to increase the number of premium seats! I am tall and those seats make my travels so comfortable! Read my Facebook (G-anna) post and Tweet (Twitter @chefga) for more comments.

  14. We are loyal Alaska Air flyers and plan to continue to be. So, we were excited to fly a Virgin A flight that came up with the Alaska Air search a couple months back, but were disappointed that our Alaska VISA card did not give us a free, first checked bag on Virgin as it would have on an Alaska flight. I hope that has been fixed or will be soon!

  15. Dear Alaska — I think abandoning the Virgin America look and culture is a huge mistake. I started enjoying flying again thanks to Virgin America. I fly frequently between LA and Seattle, and Virgin has been my go-to airline. I love the laid-back non-authoritarian behavior and affect of the staff, LOVE the look and feel of the planes (from the purple mood lighting to the cool music to the wonderful informational video that I always enjoy watching and am sad to not see anymore!). I love the easy ordering of the food, and the main cabin select option has been a huge favorite for me seating-wise, when I’ve been able to afford it. This is no disrespect to the fans of Alaska Airlines — if it works for you, great. But having taken Alaska recently, I have to say that there is no comparison as far as I am concerned. For a customer like me, Virgin America is better, more comfortable, more relaxed, and more pleasant. I will miss VA, and I’ll look for other flying options, because as nice as the Alaska folks on the staff are, the overall experience is lacking imho in the very things I’ve described above.

  16. I find Virgin’s inflight navigation map and flight info to be a very helpful and comforting part of my flight experience. Please consider make that a standard on all your aircrafts. In general, VA has maintained a consistency in aircrafts and their designs/ amenities. We know what to expect between different routes and aircrafts. Consist aircraft types, design and amenities improves your company efficiencies and our expectations with our travel/ inflight experience.

  17. Would really like to have more flight deals available out of Bozeman, MT other than Portland and Seattle. For example: Las Vegas, San Diego, Hawaii…more options please!

  18. Please consider adding non stop service to San Diego or LAX from Tucson.
    Also please reopen the United Club in San Diego because it is available and
    You are expanding service in San Diego. Thanks

  19. I quit flying Virgin long due to the painful repetitiveness of that safety song. Cute the first couples but all the time? No. That was when I committed to Alaska Frequent flying. No cutesy song or dance for safety. I don’t need extraneous entertainment shoved in my ears.

  20. Please do not change the first class on virgin. Seats and leg room much better than what you have to offer on the Alaska Airline fleet.

  21. Forget the modernization jazz. Go back to “free checked bags (at least one)”. Fuel prices were the rational so many extra charges on so many services. Fuel costs have dropped dramatically, yet airlines nickel & dime us. This would lessen overcrowded overhead bins & increase my customer satisfaction.

  22. I thought and remember Alaska always saying their entire fleet are Boeing 737’s. I don’t want to fly in an Airbus!! If it ain’t Boeing, I’m not going!! I don’t get to fly often, pretty much just once each year. I like to fly out of Bellingham, and I better not see an Airbus there, waiting for me to board!!! Not impressed with the Q400’s either, way too noisy and small, and the landing/takeoff area for the Q400’s at Sea-Tac sucks!!

  23. Please improve the cabin and the seats to make it look a little like Virgin but with the Alaska colors (something between Virgin and Alaska) and PLEASE add seat back entertainment like Virgin has, it make the cabin look WAY more modern that Alaska’s. PLEASE!!!

  24. I’ll miss Virgin’s purple mood lighting!! I’m glad Alaska is going for a mood lighting option, but every other airline is blue… The purple stands out (in a good way) – feels hip and relaxing – and research proves it’s a more calming color.

  25. Regarding the Lounge expansion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if dedicated ‘resting area’s’ would be created? I’m not the best sleeper in the world and whenever i need to catch an early flight i have trouble sleeping and thus will start my trip very tired. Dedicated resting area’s accomodated chairs you can actually sleep in and rest a bit before your flight departs.

  26. Would love to see nonstop service Oakland to Boise!

  27. For long-haul flights, in-flight entertainment is essential! It gives me a break from my laptop, and I like the on-demand food ordering (that’s even nice to have on short-haul flights because it saves me and the flight attendants time).

  28. I would LOVE to have a non-stop flight between Seattle and Memphis (or better yet, between Bellingham, WA. and Memphis).

  29. Can Alaska be the first airline to offer non-stop services from Santa Fe to California and New York?

  30. I have been flying Virgin America almost exclusively since the summer of 2016 with at least 1 flight per month. I love the in-flight back seat entertainment/food ordering screens with your journey updated as a viewing option. I love that there is a sufficient powering plug option for even a laptop all throughout every seating class for each seat. I even kind of like the purple haze mood lighting and safety song…they both add an extra level of modern friendly comfort that is a very unique experience on their flights. I also have to say that the leg room in the main cabin seats is pretty nice compared to most other airlines. If you can keep all of these things, or at least the power-plug ports and seat back ordering screens with journey update I’ll remain a loyal Virgin America (soon to be Alaska Airlines) fan!

  31. One more thing, with Alaska’s Premium Class seating, we should get in-flight WiFi included for free, or at least the first hour for free. The in-flight WiFi speeds in general should be greatly improved as well.

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