Alaska Airlines takes Pride to the skies with Delight Flights & first-ever LGBTQ+ inspired plane

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.

When Alaska guest Deb Glazer stepped onboard Alaska’s ‘Pride in the Skies’ plane from Portland to San Francisco yesterday, a burst of vitality and rainbows met her gaze, and the sound of foldable clacking fans filled the air.  

It had been over a year since she flew on a plane. While sitting with her book in her lap, wide-eyed and smiling, she looked around in awe of the energy on the plane. She said she’s never seen anything quite like it before and would love to see other companies adopt similar “surprise & delight” moments.  

“It’s amazing how Alaska found a way to create something so bright and joyful after such a dark time this past year,” Glazer said. “What a special way to be ushered back in to travel. I am delighted.”   

Each month, we’re treating Alaska guests like Deb to a special Delight Flight to elevate, celebrate and spark joy in the skies, including free flights to anywhere Alaska flies, swag and more!  

This month, to commemorate Pride month, Alaska surprised not one—but four lucky flights on a newly decorated Pride-inspired plane supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The plane, the first of its kind in the United States, will fly throughout our network for the next year.  

The plane took part in a Pride “Parade in the Sky,” starting in Seattle, with stops in Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego on Tuesday—flying employees, community partners and special guests.

Four Alaska employees, Jeremy Naz, Chad Gabagat, Alice Tam and Kevin Larson, who also led Alaska’s LGBTQ+ business group, stand in front of the unveiled Pride plane on Tuesday. The special design features rainbow-colored aircraft decals and the words “Fly with Pride” adorned the side of the plane. 

JET THE PARTY STARTED  

The festivities began early Tuesday morning with employees, community partners and guests gathered in front of our new gleaming office building in Sea-Tac, phones pointed upward, to watch the Progress Pride flag rise and unfurl for the first time.  

We’ve raised the Pride flag with six rainbow stripes in years past, but the Progress Pride flag includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with the colors pink, light blue and white, which are used on the Transgender Pride Flag. Without those groups of people & their activism, we would not have Pride today. The flag will remain through the rest of June to commemorate Pride Month. 

Alaska COO Constance von Muehlen did the honors of hoisting the Progress Pride flag. Muehlen was one of 11 honorees recently recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) as outstanding LGBTQ+ business leaders, allies and advocates making a difference in advancing equality in the business world. 

“We literally cried hearing the COO speak this morning, as she recounted how being a lesbian has shaped her, made her more vulnerable, authentic, empathetic, stronger, a better human. And then when she gave a teary-eyed “I love you” shoutout to her wife - you know nothing could resonate with us more.💘 We feel so proud of & grateful for our identities and the life we’ve built together, living our truth! And we’re SO honored to have been a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Huge thank you to @AlaskaAir 🌈✈️! #IFlyAlaska #FlyWithPride," wrote Sam & Justine @wanderfulwives via Instagram.

FIRST DELIGHT FLIGHT: SEATTLE  

The first stop on our 30,000 ft-parade routes kicked off with a surprise in our hometown at gate C9, where we unveiled the Pride plane to 50+ employees, guests and community partners for the first time—all of whom were a huge inspiration in its design and hadn’t seen it until it came around the corner. The special Airbus A320 aircraft features airplane decals with iconic rainbow stripes & inclusive colors, winglets, and the words “Fly with Pride” adorned the side. 

On the flight from Seattle to Portland, guests were surprised with swag bags, large folding “clack” fans that filled the plane with clacking sounds when they shook and free roundtrip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies.  

SECOND DELIGHT FLIGHT: PORTLAND 

In Portland, the party continued with snacks, music and photos.  Next stop: San Francisco.  

“Alaska Airlines not only shows it but they own it,” said Chad Mewmaw, a customer service agent in Alaska’s Central Baggage division and MVP Gold 75K. 

 He recalled a quote from Maya Angelou while in his seat, she once said; ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’  

“What I felt when I saw this plane … it brought me to tears,” said Mewmaw. “It made me feel like Alaska sees me, they respect me, they hear me, they care about me and I belong here.” 

Chad Mewmaw (left) with three other Alaska employees celebrating Pride at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

THIRD DELIGHT FLIGHT: SAN FRANCISCO

In San Francisco, guests were greeted with iconic Pride flags waves and cheerful woos from our employees. Gate D8 was ready for their arrival with Delight Flight décor and a DJ, who created a vibe fit for vogue dancers—who of course, surprised gate-goers with striking poses and moves to Madonna’s ‘Vogue.’ Guests bold enough to strike a pose with them were given free roundtrip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies.  

FOURTH DELIGHT FLIGHT: SAN DIEGO

On the way down from San Francisco to San Diego, guests were treated to a fan clacking lesson—the art of opening a large fan to make a “clacking” noise—by employees and special guests like Ravi Roth, a content creator from New York and host of the @GayCationTravelShow

Ravi clacking the night away on our last Pride flight to San Diego. He wrote, “There are passengers on all these flights that didn’t know we were having a West Coast Pride Parade and they are literally all embracing our Pride in the skies. If only 14-year-old Ravi could see this.” via @Raviroundtheworld.
Ravi posted: "If I could tell my 14-year-old closeted self that one day, there was going to be an airline that had a PRIDE PARADE IN THE SKIES AND ALL ARE WELCOME I would have LEAPED out of the closet. @alaskaair has risen the bar henny! This plane is lasting all year long and THAT is how you Pride 365🌈✈️🙌  
I spent the day asking employees of Alaska Airlines what it means to Fly With Pride. There were tears filled with joy, laughter from teaching folks how to Clack THAT FAN, Vogue competitions, but most importantly a central force of passion behind being inclusive for everyone in the Queer community. To the scared kids afraid to come out please know that it will get easier especially with companies like @alaskaair paving the way."

(we 💙 you too, Ravi!) 

CREATING A PLACE OF BELONGING 

Building on decades of supporting communities and causes our guests and employees care about, all of us at Alaska continually look for and cherish meaningful partnerships with LGBTQ+ focused organizations that support our diverse workforce and help us better understand the needs of those who work and fly with us.   

Owin Pierson, who lives in Hawaii and is an LGBTQ+, mental health & AAPI influencer, joined us on every leg of the near 12-hour journey. He says he was proud to represent the Queer, Asian community and hopes to inspire others to be themselves and help create a place of belonging like Alaska. 

“Can’t wait for more #queer representation to continue happening in spaces and with big names such as #AlaskaAirlines, I got emotional seeing the pride colors on the plane's wings,” wrote Pierson on his Instagram. “Pride month started as a riot and now we are taking to the skies, and we are here whether you love it, confused by it, don’t understand or don’t want to—I encourage you to just focus on this: does everyone in this world deserve happiness and safety? Do the kids of this world deserve a safe space to be free and be able to express themselves without ridicule or hate?”

He continued, “All I can say is, being Queer & being here with all the staff and fellow content creators has been so inspiring, uplifting and when I have a hard day, I will forever choose to put my energy in these moments and people.” 

We are committed to making Alaska a place where everyone feels respected and belongs and proudly celebrate the diversity of our employees and guests this Pride month and all year long. Learn more about how you can celebrate Pride this year with us and more about our goals to create belonging and a more inclusive workforce. 

Want to try your luck to be on our next Delight Flight? Book your next trip now at alaskaair.com

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