Virgin America is planning to launch its first flight of the Airbus a321neo aircraft on May 31st, 2017 on its San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Washington’s Regan National Airport (DCA). The airline has had orders on the Airbus a321neo since 2010, well before any plans of a merger with Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines is an all-Boeing fleet (except for the smaller Embraer E175s run under Horizon Air). Virgin America by contrast is an all Airbus fleet.
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.
About 40 minutes before our flight we left the Loft lounge and proceeded to gate 35. It’s down the back stairs and a very short walk. Gate 35 is in a narrow corner of terminal 3. Waiting travelers are disbursed everywhere as there’s not much in the way of seating. After standing and waiting for about 15 minutes the gate agent called for first class to board.
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.
On the heels of the big announcement for many new flights in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alaska Airlines has announced a large expansion of routes out of San Diego, California.
Virgin America and Alaska Airlines have announced a major expansion of flights out of the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the first full year that Virgin America will operate under the ownership of Alaska Airlines. Last year was a mostly quiet year in terms of route expansion and changes at both airlines, which makes sense with management at Alaska Airlines preoccupied with the DOJ approval and completion of the deal.
Alaska Airlines is in the process of adding Virgin America into its airline family. A lot of work has been done, and needs to be done before the task is completed.
Per Alaska Airlines, Mileage Plan elites will finally receive two free bags when traveling on Virgin America starting sometime this spring. This cross-plan courtesy was notably absent when the airlines competed their merger this past December. A number of generous benefits were awarded to Virgin America Elevate elites shortly after acquisition date, but free bags to Alaska Airline Mileage Plan elites were conspicuously absent. Alaska also indicated that additional benefits would be awarded to elite Mileage Plan members later this summer, namely better seating options in the economy cabin, and the opportunity to purchase first class upgrades before non-elites.