Part 2 of my post for Virgin America Deconstructed. Click here for part 1.
It’s an curious thing to watch one airline acquire another. Here in the United States we’ve watched eight large airlines combine into four over the last ten years. Delta with Northwest, United with Continental, Southwest with AirTran and finally American with US Air. All of them were different in nature, and all four of these combinations created four modern behemoth carriers.
Earlier this year Alaska Airlines announced the wind down process for the Virgin America brand, as well as their loyalty program called Elevate. One of the items that was clearly communicated in this announcement was the actual end date for the Elevate program, December 31st, 2017. At that time Elevate would be ended, and all existing Elevate members would be converted into the Alaska Airlines Mileage Program.
Today Virgin America operated the first revenue inaugural flight of the Airbus A321neo aircraft. Flight VX1 took off from San Francisco at 8:00am PDT and landed five hours later at Washington D.C.’s Regan Airport. The occasion was celebrated by both Airbus and Virgin America with cake and balloons at the gate, and commemorative pins and key chains handed out during the flight. The A321neo is Airbus’s newest version of their popular A320 family of aircraft. Virgin America was the worldwide launch airline carrier for the new aircraft produced by Airbus.
Virgin America has included new functionality into their website, which now includes Alaska Airline destinations and routes. The integration of Virgin America into Alaska Airlines has been progressing relatively fast, as far as airline integrations go.
In an unannounced move Virgin America and Comenity Capital bank have shut down the links for new applicants to both the standard and “Premium” versions of the Virgin America Visa Signature Cards.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted about elite status, and what my strategy and plans are for airline frequent flying. I’ve held elite status with Delta for many years including both Diamond and Platinum levels. I still enjoy flying with Delta, and operationally the airline is very good. I also find the Delta front line employees to be some of the best. They genuinely enjoy their jobs, and most of the time I see it reflected in my interactions with them.
Alaska Airlines has publicized their long term plan for integration of the Virgin America airline and its brand. One of the biggest questions on customer’s minds is if the Virgin America brand would exist in any form as a part of the new airline The answer to this is an emphatic NO. The new airline will retain the name Alaska Airlines and no dual-branding will be used. A specific date has not been published for this retirement, but it is estimated to occur in 2019.
Per a few sources on Flyertalk, Alaska Airlines is planning to make an announcement tomorrow March 23rd, regarding the future of the Virgin America brand, and their strategy going forward. There are no details right now, but company employees have been updated, and asked to stay quiet until tomorrow morning at 5:00am, presumably Pacific time (my guess).
Rumors will probably start leaking out later today. Brad Tilden has publicly stated that the details of the Virgin America brand would be determined by the end of March, and tomorrow’s prospective announcement would be concurrent with Brad’s stated timeline.
I’m not going to add anything else until we truly know.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card is one of my favorite travel credit cards. It was one of the first travel cards I owned. I’ve referred to it as a “No Brainer”, and its Companion Fare feature lets you redeem an additional ticket for ~ $120.00 once a year. It is one of the easiest, no blackout date, and few stipulations benefits that is a pleasure to use. Over the years we’ve saved thousands of dollars on air travel for our family and friends, and between Susan and I we currently hold 3 cards (there is a business version). The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card has always been a valuable travel credit card, and now it’s even more valuable.