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MLK’s legacy inspires Alaska employee nearly 60 years later

Hilda Shepherd, Alaska Airlines Station Operations Duty Manager. Photo by Ingrid Barrentine.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. impacted Hilda Shepherd’s life before she was even born.

Fifty-seven years ago, Shepherd’s mother, Georgia, an accountant at the Pentagon, joined 250,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial to hear Dr. King deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech. Shepherd will always remember her ‘silently strong’ mother telling her about the experience of that moment.

“It’s something that will be a legacy in my family. We show up,” said Shepherd. “I’m proud of her. I hope my grandchildren can say ‘my great grandmother, my grandmother stood up for equality and I will too.’”

Hilda Shepherd poses for a portrait with her mom and brother-in-law in Anchorage, Alaska.

Born in the 1920s, Shepherd’s mother lived through some of the more difficult times in our history. Nearly two years after Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, segregation ended and Black Americans were given the right to vote. Dr. King’s words sparked not only hope in Shepherd’s mother that day but made a lasting impression on Hilda.

“It was just as important then as it is now,” Shepherd said. “For Black Americans to continue to strive for equity. It’s really important for the survival of our race to make sure that people understand that there are inequities. There are injustices.”

Shepherd has spent a lot of time reflecting this year. Thinking about where we’ve been and where we have to go.

“It’s been a very tender time in our society … This MLK 2021—the celebration of what he has done for us—means more for me then it ever has before because of all the things and emotions that have been stirred up in our country’s unrest and division this past year,” she said.

Shepherd began her career at Alaska Airlines in 1999 as a customer service agent in Anchorage, Alaska. She later transferred to Oakland, California, where she trained to become an aircraft mechanic. She continues to be a leader and pushes for diversity and racial equity within the company.

“You have to have a dream,” she said. “If you don’t have a dream, you won’t work as hard to make things happen.”

Hilda lined up with her eldest daughter and niece at midnight to get a front row spot for President Obama’s first inauguration. They waited for 16 hours in the cold to experience the historic moment of the first Black president being sworn into office. Hilda likens this experience to the one her mother witnessed many years prior at Dr. King’s speech. “It was a full-circle moment,” she said.
Hilda working on an aircraft when she was a mechanic.

After several years of working as an aircraft mechanic, Shepherd transferred to station operations, where she leads a behind-the-scenes team whose goal is to keep the operation running smoothly. She says a key to being a good leader is to make it easier for your team to be successful by removing obstacles—a crucial part of building racial equity in a company.

“We have to continue to make sure to honor Dr. King and the life that he led. We have to continue to strive for advancement. We’re not asking for anything above and beyond,” said Shepherd. “We’re just asking for basic human dignity and decency. Please respect and treat and honor us and create laws that say we are equal Americans. That’s all that anyone has ever asked for—nothing more, nothing less.”

At Alaska, we’ve been listening to and learning from our employees, reflecting – and taking a hard look and sharing our commitments to advance racial equity and justice at our company and in our communities. Shepherd and other leaders at Alaska recognize there is still a lot of work to be done, but we are taking steps with policies, education and training, recruiting, and community partnerships, and we recognize that it is a journey.

“We have a better point of view when we have a more diverse team,” she said. “If you have all one mindset, you can’t move the needle.”

Hilda Shepherd at her desk in Seattle.

“I don’t want the dream to ever die. I want the generations behind me to know how important it is to exercise their rights, their votes. To continue to strive for equality—to be treated as one would want their own to be treated,” Shepherd said. “For as long as I live, I’ll show up and keep spreading his message.”

Alaska’s D&I leaders pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy

As we celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Alaska Airlines employees came together to create this powerful 4-minute video, reading a passage from Dr. King’s 1963 speech to a crowd of 250,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It continues to serve as a powerful reminder that we can all make a lasting impact on those around us.

The best places to visit in the U.S. right now, all an easy nonstop flight away

Keys View, California. Fly Alaska Airlines to Palm Springs.

For those who are looking to explore the beautiful USA *safely*, this is for you!

We’ve rounded up some destinations that offer wide-open spaces where you can wanderlust and explore at a distance. As you plan your trip, keep in mind COVID restrictions are constantly changing—some things may be closed and some communities might require quarantining. Before you go, triple check travel advisories.

While many destinations around the world are still off-limits, regional travel remains open and is doing so with health and safety protocols in place, which bodes well for those who want to travel in 2021. Alaska Airlines is also doing its part by implementing safety procedures that help our guests and employees travel confidently and easily.

California

California is brimming with beauty and your options for exploring are endless. From road tripping along the coast to visiting some of the most iconic national parks (hello, Big Sur?) to sipping vino (not in your kitchen).

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, the Pacific Coast Highway has breathtaking ocean views all along the drive with stretches where it’s just you and mother nature. Fly to: San Francisco, San Luis Obisbo, Los Angeles or San Diego.

Fun fact: If you’re lucky, just off Highway 101 on Davison Road, you might find a meadow full of wild Elk!

Surrounding yourself among the trees is also an option with the Redwood Forest! Fly to: San Francisco or Medford (technically, Oregon but it’s another great starting point).

The Bixby Creek Bridge is also featured in HBO’s Big Little Lies.

Speaking of views you can get at a distance, nestled on the rugged central coast of California is Big Sur, one of the best big little secrets of Monterey County. Fly to: Monterey or San Jose.

Pro tip: Wine flies free on Alaska Airlines. Yes, you heard that right (chef’s kiss).

There’s always Napa and Sonoma for anyone 21+ who wants to unwind (uncork) in wine country. Fly to: Santa Rosa/Sonoma County or Sacramento.

Oregon

If you love rugged coastlines and vast forests, Oregon is the place for you. There are plenty of great escapes to peak your interest and falls to wash away any worries. Camping (or glamping, no judgment here) is also an easy to-do, just secure your spot ahead of time. Fly to: Portland, Eugene, Medford or Redmond/Bend.

Hawaii

If you’re able to work from home, why not make paradise your office for a week or two? It’s stunning beaches, local shops and assurance that visitors are COVID-negative upon arrival sounds like the place to be! Fly to: Maui, Kona or Honolulu.

Before you say aloha, learn about Hawaii travel.

Alaska

Visit the state where our airline got its roots. Packed with small towns and rich history, this vast, beautiful state will leave you wanting more. Being the largest and most sparsely populated state in the U.S., you can bet to find gems like Ketchikan or Cordova, and potentially a glacier or two! Fly to: Anchorage.

Washington

As our hometown state, Washington is an incredible escape from it all. We might be a little biased but you can’t beat coffee shops on every corner and the city combo of water and greenery. Plus, boundless bike paths, gorgeous mountain hikes and kayaking Puget Sound are just minutes away. Fly to: Seattle.

Book now at alaskaair.com. Mask up. Let’s go!

10 Qs you might have about traveling again

All of us at Alaska are here to bring you the best care in the air—and answers to your burning travel questions—check out our tips so you can travel well and plan those long-awaited trips for spring and summer!

1. Should I wait to get the vaccine before taking a trip?

If you’re able to get vaccinated for COVID-19, we highly encourage you to do so. However, Alaska Airlines does not require it. Before your flight with us, you will be asked to fill out a health agreement, which simply confirms you will wear a face covering on board/at the airport and that you have not shown any COVID symptoms in the past 72 hours and have not been in proximity to someone who has tested positive.

2. What is the safest type of trip to plan right now?

Wherever you’re planning to go, Dr. John Lynch from UW Medicine says it’s important to protect yourself & others by wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds and washing your hands often. Also, double check any special travel rules in place for the destination.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), flying remains one of the safest travel alternatives during the pandemic. Adding multiple layers of safety are key to combat the virus—i.e. Alaska’s Next-Level Care—which includes mask-wearing, rigorous cleaning programs and strong air circulation.

3. Am I more at risk sitting next to someone on a plane?

While it seems like sitting on a plane with other people could be risky, analysis of air travel shows viruses don’t spread easily on aircraft because of a number of things. One study concluded people wearing masks have a near zero (0.003%) chance of contracting COVID-19—even while seated next to someone.

You’ve covered by:

  • High air exchange rates (fresh air every 2-3 min in the cabin)
  • HEPA filtration
  • Forward faced seating
  • High-back seats
  • Mask-wearing *this one is SUPER important*
  • Enhanced cleaning
  • Contactless features (pre order meals, mobile boarding pass)
  • Complimentary sanitizer

4. What if I tested positive for COVID-19 or recently recovered from the virus? Can I still fly on Alaska Airlines?

For your safety and for the safety of others around you, guests who have exhibited COVID-19 symptoms 72 hours before their flight or who have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive are not allowed to fly with us. This is for the safety of all guests and employees. Our current Peace of Mind waiver covers change and cancellation fees for all flights booked through March 31, 2021.

For those who have recovered from the virus (yay!) you are welcome to fly with us after the CDC-recommended quarantine period has passed: 10 days after a positive test or symptom onset, no fever for 24 hours, and all other symptoms not getting worse.

5. I don’t like tests. Do I need a COVID test before I fly?

It depends. Some of your favorite destinations, including Hawaii, Alaska, Chicago and New York, require negative Covid-19 test results taken no more than 72 hours before your flight, or you’ll need to comply with a 10-day self-quarantine. Be sure to schedule your test early, as appointments fill up in advance. Find a testing location.

6. I can’t fly without snacking, can I still eat or drink on board?

Yes! We don’t want any hangry or parched passengers. We just kindly ask, after you sip or snack, please put your mask back.

7. So, masks. Does everyone have to wear them? Can I take mine off in my seat?

No mask? No travel. Per our policy, Alaska guests must wear a cloth face mask or covering for the entire flight, including boarding and deplaning. Your mask or face covering must cover your nose and mouth—and cannot have valves, mesh material or holes of any kind.

Exceptions apply only to children under the age of two (in alignment with CDC age guidelines). Guests who repeatedly refuse to wear a mask or face covering will be given a final warning—in the form of a yellow card—and may be suspended from flying with us for a period of time. Read more about our mask enforcement.

8. How is the quality of Alaska’s cabin air?

The cabin air is very clean and safe, says Josh Nice, the Director of Quality Assurance at Alaska Airlines. We have one of the newest fleets in the country which means our planes have the latest air filtration technology. Our planes are equipped with two hospital-grade HEPA filters that remove 99.95% of airborne particulates. There is a full exchange of cabin air with outside and HEPA-filtered air every 2–3 minutes and 100% fresh air every 6 minutes. Learn more.

9. You sure we can trust the cleaning of aircraft and airports?

Our planes have never been cleaner, says Nice. Alaska’s enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures exceed CDC cleaning guidelines and was developed/validated with infectious diseases experts at UW Medicine. We’re taking cleaning to the next level to reduce the already low risk of onboard transmission. Here’s how:

Onboard
Between every flight, we’re using high-grade EPA disinfectants and electrostatic disinfectant sprayers to sanitize the most critical areas (overhead bins, armrests, tray tables, seatbelts, lavatories, etc).

Please note: If you wipe the leather seat with your own cleaning wipe, the blue leather dye color may come off. This doesn’t mean it’s dirty, it’s the active ingredient that is causing the color to come off on the wipe.

At the airport
We’re working closely with airport services to ensure the highest level of cleanliness. We’ve instituted a cleaning program for the check-in lobby counters and gate counters where the surfaces are wiped down with a disinfectant more frequently.

10. It’s been almost a year since I traveled. What’s it like now?

Travel is a little different but Alaska has thought through every step of the way—from booking to boarding, and beyond—and implemented nearly 100 ways to keep you safe.

Here are some travel tips:

  • Pack enough masks and hand sanitizer. TSA now allows you to bring one 12 oz. bottle in your carry-on until further notice.
  • Masks must be worn at all times (except to briefly eat/drink).
  • Prep ahead of time to minimize interactions at the airport:
  • Check in online or via Alaska’s mobile app.
  • Print bag tags from home or with Alaska’s app at any airport self-service kiosk.
  • Fill out applicable health forms or requirements (per the destination you’re traveling to, i.e. Hawaii).
  • Security checkpoints will be as contactless, spread out and efficient as possible.
  • Expect deeper and more frequent cleaning of surfaces at airports and on Alaska aircraft.
  • You’ll probably notice floor decals to maintain distancing, hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass dividers at counters.
  • Catering procedures on board will be simplified to lower crew movement and interactions between guests.
  • Please remain calm & respect physical distancing when boarding/exiting the aircraft, at baggage claim and customs.

We’re all in this together and can’t wait to travel with you!

Book now at alaskaair.com. Mask up. Let’s go!

Where to Travel Based on Your Zodiac Sign

IT’S A SIGN! Your next travel destination could be written in the stars! We joined forces with the @AstroTwins & Create Cultivate to help you figure out where you should go safely in 2021 based on your zodiac. Check it out now!

Fly Alaska, ski for free at stunning resorts

Whitefish Resort.

Did you know you can use your Alaska Airlines boarding pass to redeem incredible ski deals, including free lift tickets? Simply present your Alaska Airlines boarding pass and matching ID at any ticket office and ski free the day you arrive—but double check your destination’s quarantine rules!

Plus, we’re making it more affordable to fly with your gear too. Instead of charging oversize bag fees, skis and snowboards are treated as regular checked bags subject to our standard feesAnd don’t forget: Eligible Alaska Airlines Visa® cardholders get their first checked bag free, including their ski or board bag.

Here’s a look at the resorts offering deals for the 2020-2021 ski season. Please note: some regions have travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

Alyeska Resort

Photo courtesy of Alyeska Resort.

Fly to Anchorage (ANC) Flights from Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane

Alyeska Resort sits in the heart of Girdwood, a glacier-carved valley. To the west and north, the mountains of the Chugach State Park provide a stunning backdrop over Alyeska. Alyeska is an established ski destination known for its steep terrain and deep snowpack. With expansive mountain and ocean inlet views, Alyeska boasts an average 669″ of annual snowfall at the summit. Learn more.

Bogus Basin

Bogus Basin.

Fly to Boise (BOI) Flights from Seattle.

Bogus Basin is much more than a typical hometown ski hill. The nonprofit recreation area boasts 2,600 acres of skiable terrain, four high speed quad chair lifts, and night skiing until 10pm, seven days a week. True to its mission, Bogus Basin offers accessibility (the area is just 16 miles from downtown Boise, Idaho), and affordability. In addition to downhill skiing and riding, Bogus Basin has a Nordic Center with 37 kilometers of trails for skiing, snowshoeing and fat tire biking. Learn more.

Eaglecrest Ski Area

Photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Fly to Juneau (JNU) Flights from Anchorage, Glacier Bay/Gustavus, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Seattle, Sitka, and Yakutat.

Eaglecrest is Juneau, Alaska’s community owned and operated ski area with big mountain terrain, 1620′ vertical drop, 640+ acres, impressive backcountry access, untracked powder, and hardly a lift line. Never heard of Eaglecrest? They’re a well-kept secret, but closer than you think. Downtown Juneau is only 15 minutes away, and there are daily flights from Seattle and Anchorage. Learn more.

Red Lodge Mountain

Photo courtesy of Red Lodge Mountain.

Fly to Billings (BIL) Flights from Seattle and Portland

Red Lodge Mountain is Montana skiing, pure and simple. No lift lines, no attitude, no big prices – just great snow, great people, and an authentic Montana experience. Located in south central Montana, Red Lodge Mountain boasts 2,400 feet of vertical and over 1,635 acres of groomers, glades, & chutes to explore. The laid-back atmosphere & small-town personality make the town of Red Lodge the “Coolest Ski Town You’ve Never Heard Of,” according to Business Insider. And with its rich history, scenic vistas, and quaint 6-block downtown, Red Lodge will capture your heart and leave you dreaming of your next visit. Learn more.

RED Mountain Resort

Photo courtesy of Red Mountain Resort.

Fly to Spokane (GEG)Flights from Anchorage, Boise, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle

Fiercely independent RED Mountain Resort delivers 3,850 acres of pristine skiing, putting us in Top 10 terrain territory in North America. With a new chairlift on Topping Creek, the skier flow and access to Grey Mountain is streamlined along with an additional 7 incredible intermediate runs over 300 acres of terrain. Read more.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort

Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

Fly to Spokane (GEG)Flights from Anchorage, Boise, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle

Considered by many as the best skiing in Idaho and the best family-friendly resort in the Pacific Northwest, Schweitzer Mountain Resort is independently owned and proud of it. Schweitzer ranks as one of the nation’s top winter destinations with 2900 acres of amazing terrain thanks to its two massive bowls and renowned tree skiing. Located in the rugged Selkirk Mountains of the northern Idaho panhandle, and only 80 miles from Spokane, WA , Schweitzer overlooks the town of Sandpoint, ID and offers breathtaking views of three states, Canada and the impressive Lake Pend Oreille. Read more.

Ski Marmot Basin

Photo courtesy of Ski Marmot Basin.

Fly to Edmonton (YEG) or Calgary (YYC) Flights from Seattle

Ski Marmot Basin is located 12 miles south of the authentic Canadian mountain town of Jasper, surrounded by 4,247 square miles of protected wilderness in Jasper National Park. Boasting the highest base elevation of any major ski area in Canada, the ski area receives consistent snow from mid-November to early May each season. Skiers and snowboarders can explore 91 runs and two terrain parks on 1,720 acres of perfectly groomed trails, powder-filled alpine bowls, and treed runs at one of the most uncrowded ski areas in North America. Read more.

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Resort.

Fly to Kalispell/Glacier Park (FCA) Flights from Portland and Seattle.

Since 1947, Whitefish Mountain Resort has welcomed skiers and riders seeking a mountain that is uncrowded, beautiful, and affordable. Rising above the town of Whitefish, in beautiful northwest Montana, in the backyard of Glacier National Park (only 35 miles away), the resort charms its guests with a friendly fun-loving vibe, variety of terrain, and virtually no lift lines at an unbeatable value. Whitefish’s Big Mountain is the quintessential skier’s mountain averaging more than 300 inches of snow annually on 3,000 acres of bowls, chutes, and glades on all aspects. Read more.

Year in Review: Clean planes, remarkable service from our top-notch crew, here’s a poem bidding 2020 adieu

Though 2020 was far from what we expected,
Alaska did whatever we could to help keep people connected.

From putting on our dancing shoes and masking all of our crews.
We want to share our top moments with all of you.

We continue to stand up for what’s right.

ICYMI: In Palm Springs, we made an airplane shine bright.

We rocked new custom uniforms and holiday sweaters.

We announced more oneworld perks for our loyal jetsetters.

We learned how to pivot during a pandemic.

Protip: get your hands on our free sanitizing wipes—they’re organic.

Remember that special flight for a boy and his Dad?

Or the time our CSA gave her car keys to a stranger? That also made us glad!

We donated iPads and hockey sticks to youth.

And, don’t forget, we also flew the first Copper Salmon,

(we hear it pairs well with honey & vermouth).

You might also recall a familiar face above Seattle’s skyline.

And studies that showed it’s safe to fly was an excellent sign!

From zero to 30,000 feet, there’s HEPA- filtered, fresh air.

Our goal is to keep you safe with our Next-Level Care.

Make sure you wear a mask, unless you’re grabbing a bite.

And sit back, relax on your next Alaska flight.

Did you catch the news? Or the word on the street?

This year, we also announced plans to expand our MAX fleet.

We flew medical workers and the first of many COVID-19 vaccines.

If you liked Alaska’s “Safety Dance”music video, don’t forget to check out the behind-the-scenes.

This year, our planes may not have seen as many of you,

but they saw lots of essential goods and PPE too.

We also offered sweet deals like Russell’s touchdown discounts and Buy-One-Get-One-Free.

We shared tips for travel and what to do in Hawaii.

Alaska even planted trees and donated a million meals,

seeing all the good that can happen gives us all the feels.

For those of you who stayed at home, our Zoom backgrounds and couch getaways helped you explore.

We offered tips for long weekends, seeing the Northern lights and places for golfers to shout “FORE!”

We celebrated a year at Everett’s Paine Field.

And our partnership with the NHL in Seattle was revealed.

Before we bid 2020 adieu,

Please know that this is our commitment to you!

We’re here to make travel accessible and safe for everyone.

And we cannot wait for you to fly with us in 2021.

Most photos by Ingrid Barrentine.

Alaska and Kraken team up to donate hockey sticks to local youth

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.

Talk about community GOALS! Alaska recently teamed up with the Seattle Kraken and Matt Griffin YMCA to spread holiday cheer with an equipment drive to help kids get excited about ice hockey.

Masked-up volunteers handed out nearly 200 hockey sticks and street hockey balls to families in the Seatac area through a drive-up system. Our hope is every child gets the chance to participate in and develop an interest in the sport.

Talk about community GOALS! Alaska Airlines teamed up with the the Seattle Kraken and Matt Griffin YMCA Saturday, December 12, 2020 to spread holiday cheer with an equipment drive to get kids excited about hockey.

“This was a fun, safe way to not only spread our Alaska holiday cheer, but to support the Seattle Kraken’s initiative of making the sport of hockey available to everyone, especially kids who may not have access to hockey previously,” said Ian Bremner, brand activation marketing manager.

There were also a lot of Kraken fans there to support.

Alaska Airlines has been an ongoing community partner and supporter of The Matt Griffin YMCA, which serves the SeaTac area by providing programming for the health and well-being of youth and their families.

Alaska Airlines transports lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine safely to rural regions of Alaska

Keri Zimmer, Kodiak Station Manager unloading the COVID-19 vaccine in Kodiak, Alaska. Photos by Ingrid Barrentine

Deborah Gantos, a Cargo Air Freight CSA at Alaska Airlines in Anchorage, hasn’t seen her son since February due to her autoimmune condition and the coronavirus.

This week, she was part of a historic turning point in the state’s battle with COVID-19 as some of the first vaccines were delivered to frontline healthcare workers via Alaska Airlines and other distributors, reaching some of the most rural communities in the state.

Deborah Gantos, Air Freight CSA

“This is a really big deal seeing all the vaccines come through here,” Gantos said, who assisted with the verification process of the shipment. “I’m very excited about the vaccine so I can feel good about visiting my son or other family members and for other people to have access to it so we can slow down the death rate—I am very excited about that. I look forward to getting mine soon.”

Alaska Air Cargo worked closely with pharmaceutical and cargo partners, as well as, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to organize and ensure the safe travels of the critical shipment, which included thousands of doses of the vaccine for health care facilities, leading to the first vaccinations of Alaskans this week.

Pfizer Inc. designed special shipping containers packed with dry ice that are capable of maintaining an ultra-cold temperature for up to 30 days as long as the dry ice is replenished upon receipt and every five days thereafter.

The state of Alaska is unique in that 80% of communities are only accessible by air or water and most vaccines must be distributed by plane. Alaska Airlines has been transporting critical medication and cargo to the state of Alaska for 88 years—in many ways serving as a lifeline to more than 20 communities in the state.

“As the largest scheduled carrier in the state, our cargo team is proud to transport COVID-19 vaccines to destinations across Alaska, as part of this historic, global effort,” said Torque Zubeck, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo.

Rural communities run the risk of getting hit harder by the virus.

Since the surge of COVID cases across the country, there’s been an ongoing effort in the state of Alaska to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in smaller communities where access to large-scale hospitals, critical medication and essential goods are not easily accessible. Rural counties run the risk of a disproportionately high death toll compared to large counties.

The shipping containers include a temperature and tracking device that will ensure the vaccine was kept safe during transport.

In her role with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), a healthcare organization that serves over 50 rural communities in southwest Alaska, Tiffany Zulkosky is helping to educate people statewide for broader vaccine distribution. The vaccines, she said, are “monumental,” for parts of rural Alaska.

“In this state, particularly in our region (Bethel), we’re so connected with cultural values rooted in family and connection. For our tribes and residents, we can see how the COVID-19 pandemic has really altered the way our society engages with one another, which makes it particularly difficult for our communities.” Zulkosky said. “I think we feel a sense of hope with the COVID-19 vaccine and how it will help us find some sense of normalcy even if it’s a new sense of normalcy in the coming months and coming year.

Following the first shipment of the vaccine, some health care workers began receiving vaccinations this week at hospitals and health care facilities. We know this is the first of many shipments to come, and we are ready to scale our operation as additional vaccines are produced and ready for distribution.

Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center security department caregivers deliver a box of COVID-19 vaccine to the facility on Tuesday, Dec. 15, after it was picked up from Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport.

During this time of uncertainty, air travel continues to be an essential service. Alaska Airlines remains committed to helping medical professionals and lifesaving supplies get to the places where they are needed most. The health and safety of our guests, employees and communities is a responsibility we take to heart and show each and every day.

Learn more about our Next-Level Care.

Our passenger and freighter fleet played a role in the safe movement of life-saving vaccines to remote locations throughout Alaska.

Related:

10 tips for safe air travel during the holidays

The holidays are here, and many people are weighing the risks of air travel vs. staying home. While the thought of being in a confined space with other people may seem daunting, recent studies have shown flying isn’t as dangerous of COVID-19 spread as once thought, and that cabin air may in fact be cleaner than most homes, hospital rooms and supermarkets.

So if you haven’t seen your loved ones for almost a year and if driving long distance just isn’t an option, Alaska Airlines is here to make your travel journey as safe and seamless as possible. Below are some tips for traveling this holiday season:

1. Know before you go.

When it comes to travel restrictions and information like testing requirements or quarantine rules, every state is different. We recommend researching and getting the lay of the land before you arrive. Check out alaskaair.com for the latest travel updates.

Does the destination you’re flying to require a COVID-19 test? We’re offering Alaska guests testing options with multiple testing providers that offer rapid and standard COVID-19 testing.

2. Pack the essentials.

Don’t forget to pack & wear a mask at any Alaska touchpoint such as in our Lounges, at the gate or onboard our aircraft. While our policy allows guests to not wear a mask while they eat or drink, research has shown mask-wearing is the most effective way to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

Bringing a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer is also probably worth considering, and now TSA allows you to bring even more – one 12 oz. bottle is allowed in your carry-on until further notice. We also offer complimentary EO hand sanitizing wipes to all our guests that are 99.9% effective at killing germs.

3. Get in touch with our touch-free options.

Save time before or after you arrive at the airport with Alaska’s mobile app, which allows you to buy tickets, retrieve your boarding pass, check-in for flights and print your bag tags all without having to touch the airport kiosk. Learn more.

You can also use the app to pre-order meals on select flights and store your payment preference using your Alaska Airlines account so when it comes time to pay for your meal in the air, you can do so touch-free.

Due to COVID-19, our food & beverage service is still limited to reduce the interactions between our flight crews and guests. To see what we’re currently offering on board visit alaskaair.com. Download the Alaska app on iPhone or Android.

4. Breathe easy on our flights.

Not only are each of our aircraft cleaned after every flight but every Alaska aircraft also recirculates fresh air from outside and through hospital-grade HEPA filters every 2 to 3 minutes keeping the air you breathe germ-free. The HEPA filters remove 99.9% of airborne contaminants.

During your flight, fresh air is continuously pulled into the plane from outside, completely refreshing the air onboard every few minutes. This system was initially created back in the days when smoking on planes was common. Learn more

5. Mind your wingspan.

While experts and science affirms that flying is safe we hope to make guests feel more comfortable by blocking middle seats on mainline flights and limiting the number of guests on our flights through Jan. 6, 2021.

We’re also providing our gate agents with the ability to scan boarding passes from six feet away—if the conditions are just right. And, to better allow for personal distancing, guests board by row numbers in smaller groups from the back to the front.

At the airport, you’ll also notice plexiglass shields at multiple touchpoints, including the ticketing and customer service counters, the gate areas and our Lounges. And, you’ll likely spot “Mind Your Wingspan” floor decals and signage at check-in as a reminder to stay six feet apart.

6. Watch, chat and be merry.

To keep your travels merry and bright, bring the device you’re most comfortable using and get ready to watch your favorite festive flick. Alaska has many holiday movies, including “Elf,” “Home Alone” and Hallmark Channel original movies.

Alaska guests can also connect with friends and family from 30,000 feet in the air with our free chat feature during the flight. Just connect to our inflight Wi-Fi and select “free texting.”

7. Keep calm & carry on.

Anyone needing a little moment of zen can enjoy listening to our free inflight meditation sessions brought to you by Headspace. Just look for Headspace in our entertainment portal, breathe deeply and let the stress melt away.

Have travel anxiety or aren’t used to flying? Alaska has a free app called Fly for All. Designed for first-time flyers, guests traveling with children, unaccompanied minors and those with cognitive and developmental disabilities, including autism, the app will help ease the anxiety of air travel by walking guests through the steps they’ll follow when getting ready to fly. Download it on Apple App Store or Google Play store.

8. Buy gifts for them, earn miles for you.

Whether you’re flying or not this holiday season, consider giving your friends and family the gift of travel with Alaska miles or travel gift certificates, which can be purchased at alaskaair.com.

One fun gift for the ski and snowboarding lovers is our Fly Alaska, Ski Free program where your boarding pass serves as your free lift ticket at some of the country’s top ski resort destinations like Whitefish, Red Lodge Mountain, and Alyeska.

And, if you’re a Mileage Plan member, you can maximize your miles with Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan Shopping and earn up to 10 miles for every dollar spent at any of our 850+ retailers.

9. Land a great deal.

If you’re waiting until 2021 to go on those long-awaited adventures, or to see loved ones, we tend to have great deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Want a deal sooner? This football season, our Chief Football Officer Russell Wilson can help you save on your next trip. During home games, when Wilson scores a touchdown (passing or rushing), you get discount up to 40% off*. Learn more.

10. Minimize your impact.

Even after you land, make sure to wear your mask and follow safe health practices whenever possible – to minimize the impact on the people and places you fly to!

Alaska Airlines offers last-minute gift ideas for the traveler in your life

With holiday shopping going mostly virtual in 2020, Alaska is sharing some of the airline’s favorite gift ideas for the aviation geek, frequent traveler, ski lover and more in your life. Give the gift of travel for 2021, along with some of the most unique airline swag available online at the Alaska Company Store.

For the Frequent Traveler

We all deserve something to look forward to next year. For the frequent traveler in your life, consider giving a travel gift certificate for a new adventure in 2021. Alaska Airlines gift certificates can be emailed or printed, are available in increments between $25-$500, and never expire – and best of all, no wrapping required! Pair it with some Alaska-branded gear fit for the seasoned travel professional they are, from toiletry organizers to luggage tags and reusable water bottles.

For the Snow Bunny

Did you know that if you fly Alaska to some of the nation’s premier skiing destinations, you can ski for free? Top ski resorts in Alaska, Montana and beyond offer deals like free lift passes when you show your Alaska boarding pass. Purchase a travel gift certificate through Alaska, and the snow bunny in your life can hit the slopes for free at some of the best ski resorts with this 2-for-1 gift. Pair it with things to keep them cozy after a long day in the cold, like an Alaska beanie, coffee mug or blanket. P.S. – when you fly Alaska, your skis count toward your regular checked baggage, meaning no oversize or overweight fees, ever.

For the Wine Lover

The only thing better than wine and cheese is wine and an Alaska Fruit & Cheese Platter. If you’re looking for a gift for the wine lover in your life, Alaska flies to some of the country’s top wine destinations – why not book a future trip to wine country to celebrate making it through 2020! As an added bonus: when you fly to one of 30 premier wine destinations on the West Coast, your Wine Flies Free. That’s right – travelers can check a full case of wine for free. And, the perfect pairing is one of Alaska’s famous “fruit & cheese platter” themed gifts from the company store.

For the New Parent

At Alaska, one of our philosophies is to inspire a love for travel from a young age. Alaska has gifts for the new parents in your life – from toys to cute and kitschy onesies. And, if you’re looking for an extra special gift in honor of baby’s first holiday, consider donating Alaska miles in their honor. Alaska’s LIFT Miles program offers Mileage Plan™ members a unique and meaningful way to support important causes, including Make-A-Wish®, Fisher House Foundation™, The Nature Conservancy® and disaster relief organizations.

For the Kraken Fan

As an official sponsor of Seattle’s new NHL team, the Kraken, the Alaska Company Store serves as a one-stop shop for some of the most popular Seattle Kraken gear. For the Kraken fan who just can’t wait for the first puck to drop, make sure they’re ready for game day with gear from head to toe, like hats, shirts and more.

For the Aviation Geek

There’s nothing a true aviation geek loves more than some merch to represent their favorite airline. This year, give the gift of Alaska Airlines history and tradition with vintage-inspired items, license plate covers, branded clothing and more.

Everything you need to know before you go to Hawaii 

Updated Dec. 14, 2020. Originally posted Sept. 22, 2020

Hawaii is welcoming back visitors with its pre-travel testing program, allowing travelers from out-of-state to proceed without the 14-day quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 before they arrive in the islands.

Note: The pre-travel testing program has been temporarily halted for Kauai County. All travelers arriving on Kauai must quarantine for 14 days. Vacation rentals are not permitted as a quarantine location. Learn more

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

You must test negative within 72 hours of traveling to Hawaii.

All travelers age 5 and older are required to take a COVID-19 test from a trusted testing partner within 72 hours of your departure flight to Hawaii. Negative test results must be uploaded to your Safe Travels profile prior to the departure of your Hawaii-bound flight or you must self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of your stay, whichever is shorter.  Testing availability may be limited, please schedule your appointments quickly. All tests must meet the requirements of the State of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program.

The test MUST meet state requirements.

The state of Hawaii will ONLY accept test results from trusted testing and travel partners. The test must be an FDA-authorized nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), performed using a nasal swab and processed by a CLIA-certified laboratory. Learn more.

Alaska is offering safe and reliable testing options.

To help guests prepare for travel to the islands, we’re partnering with Carbon Health and Bartell Drugs to offer COVID-19 testing clinics — starting in Seattle on Oct. 12, 2020, and expanding locations in the coming weeks. For more information, including how to schedule an appointment and pricing visit alaskaair.com/hawaii-bound.

No test? Pass go. Head straight to quarantine.

Without a test, both residents and visitors, arriving from out-of-state to Hawaii are still subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, which is in effect for all islands served by Alaska Airlines. Here’s what quarantine means in Hawaii:

  • It means no leaving your designated self-quarantine location for any reason—except for medical emergencies or to seek medical care.
  • Food must be delivered at your own expense, so no sit down dinners at local spots or trips to the grocery store.
  • Vacation rentals are not permitted as a quarantine location.
  • Failure to follow this order is a misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or 1-year imprisonment.

Prepare for a temperature check at landing + your return flight.

Upon arrival, travelers will also have their temperature checked and will be required to have completed a travel & health form that includes your length of stay and return flight confirmation.

Speed up the process: Hawaii Pre-Clear has arrived! To help speed things up for you and your fellow travelers, Alaska Airlines guests are now able to pre-clear at the departure gate, and bypass airport screening upon arrival in Hawaii. Learn more. Please be sure you have uploaded your test results (PDF file) to your Safe Travels account and completed the mandatory online health questionnaire prior to your arrival.

Fly Alaska to Hawaii.

On Nov. 1, Alaska’s nonstop service to Hawaii will resume from Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California; and San Diego, California. Hawaii service will begin from Anchorage, Alaska and Los Angeles on Nov. 20. Book your next trip today!

For more information, visit hawaiicovid19.com/travel.

A behind-the-wings look of the Alaska Airlines ‘Safety Dance’ music video

We love safety so much at Alaska Airlines our employees made a music video about it. The video features a number of the 100+ ways we’re focused on keeping our guests and employees safe as part of our Next-Level Care.

“Alaska Safety Dance”

100+ safety measures

Recent research about air travel concluded that it is safe to fly by following a layered approach using masks, hand sanitizer and air filtration. With our safety protocols in place, including mandatory masks, enhanced cleaning between flights, HEPA air filtration and touch-free technology we believe it’s safe to fly.

“We are ready to take you anywhere you want to go, to any of the destinations we fly to,” said Jonathon, a designated trainer lead CSA and employee video star. “We’re the safest airline in the skies and we’re still creating an airline people love.”

Related:

Behind the scenes + masks

“Safety Dance” was directed by Warren Fu who is known for his work with artists such as Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Daft Punk and HAIM. The video was choreographed by Anna Matuszewski, who is known for her work with Macklemore.

“It was refreshing to work on a project with some much needed levity after such a challenging year. You can highlight the importance of safety and still have fun with it. I hope the uplifting energy and enthusiasm showcased by our Alaska Airlines employee talent brings a smile to people’s faces,” said Director Warren Fu.

The faces behind the masks are our very own employees! Employees were chosen for the video in a variety of ways including a few from our Alaska Flight Attendant Drill Team—who dance through the streets of Seattle for the Torchlight Parade and other events around the country to represent the company. Others were chosen based on workgroups, ability and willingness to dance, and leader nominations.

To prepare, our employees were given videos of the choreography in advance and asked to practice at home prior to arriving on set.

“I’ve never danced before in my life,” said Michael, a ground service agent at Horizon Air. “I focused on working hard at rehearsal and doing my best to keep up. I kept practicing the moves in order to successfully pull this all off.”

The day prior to filming, employees did a full 8-hour dress rehearsal where the group perfected the moves with the choreographer.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of something so important to our industry and country right now. It sends a clear message of the safety measures we have in place and the seriousness of wearing a mask.” – Natalie

Filmed over two full days in our Boeing cabin trainer and the Alaska Maintenance Hangar in Seattle, employees did a phenomenal job showcasing our safety measures in a memorable way.

A production crew of approximately 40 people followed strict safety measures including everyone being COVID tested, masks had to be worn at all times and onsite COVID compliance officers made sure everyone was keeping safety top of mind.

“From the director, to the choreography, the cameras, the music, makeup and hair artists and so on it was like being on the set of a movie,” said Natalie, a Horizon Air flight attendant in Seattle, who also starred in the video. “Everyday was filled with excitement and anticipation. It was very professional, well organized and definitely on my top 10 things in life that I have been a part of.”

Overall, employees worked together really well and continued practicing on the side during downtime.

“It was such an honor to be part of this campaign,” said Orly, an Alaska flight attendant, who was in the video. “I have so much pride in this company and it was amazing to get to represent Alaska.”

Dianne McGinness from Alaska Airlines Communications team contributed to this article. Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.