Alaska Airlines

The end is near for separation between Virgin America & Alaska Airlines

The end is near. For most all outward appearances of Virgin America.

Alaska Airlines, which has spent the past 18 months folding Virgin America into Alaska’s operations, wrote to customers yesterday to let them know that, starting April 25:

  • There will be only one website (alaskaair.com) for all check-ins.
  • There will be only only mobile app (Alaska’s).
  • There will be one call center (Alaska’s).
  • And there we be only Alaska flight numbers.

At the airport, all check-ins for flights operated by the company will take place at Alaska’s ticket counters and kiosks.

The final switchover will take place on the night of April 24, says Alaska:

“We’ll complete physical changes at 29 airports around the U.S. and Mexico that are served by both Alaska and Virgin America. The only branding and signage will now be for Alaska Airlines. Signs and screens will all change to Alaska branding at curbside locations, lobbies, ticket counters, gates and baggage areas. While there will be some Virgin America painted aircraft still flying for a period of time after April 25, tickets will be sold only under the Alaska name.”

Alaska Airlines expands its Wine Flies Free program

Here’s good news for wine lovers: Alaska Airlines has expanded its popular Wine Flies Free program, which allows the carrier’s Mileage Plan members to check a case of wine – 12 bottles – for free.

The program includes domestic flights on Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and Skywest flights from the cities listed below, but does not include Virgin America flights until May 2018.

In Washington: Bellingham, Pasco, Pullman, Seattle, Spokane, Walla Walla, Wenatchee, and Yakima

In Oregon:  Eugene, Medford, Portland, and Redmond

In Idaho: Boise and Lewiston

And in California: Burbank, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Oakland, Ontario, Orange County, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma

In addition to allowing passengers to check a case of wine for free, Alaska’s Wine Flies Free program has another valuable perk: the wine-tasting fee charged by many wineries in Oregon and Washington will be waived for those who show their Alaska Airlines boarding pass.

Details on the Oregon Wines Fly Free are here. 

In Washington wine country, not only do many wineries offer free tastings to Alaska Airlines customers who show their boarding passes, under the Wine Flies Free program Hertz rental car will waive the drop off fee, so travelers can pick up a car in one city, travel through wine country tasting and buying wine, and then drop the car off in another city. Details are here.

So drink up!

 

 

Blame Trump: Alaska Airlines to drop its LA – Havana flights

Blame it on Donald Trump’s Cuba policy:

Today Alaska Airlines announced that  – effective January 22, 2018 – it will be canceling its daily flight between Los Angeles and Havana, Cuba.

The Seattle-based airline began offering the flight on January 5 of this year.

According to the airline, about 80 percent of the passengers who flew to Havana on Alaska Airlines visited under a U.S. allowance for individual “people-to-people” educational travel.

Last week, changes to U.S. policy eliminated that category of Cuba travel and, as a result, the airline said it will redeploy the aircraft and other resources it had been devoting to the Havana route to other markets instead.

“Travel is about making connections, and we were honored to have played a role in helping people make personal connections by traveling between the U.S. and Cuba,” said Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines, in a statement, “We continually evaluate every route we fly to ensure we have the right number of seats to match the number of people who want to go there.”

Other airlines may announce service cancellations in response to the most recent restrictions placed on Cuba, but even before this JetBlue, American, Southwest had trimmed their Cuba service, while Frontier, Spirit and Silver Airways had dropped Cuba service completely.

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse from the air

I had the great fortune to be able to join Alaska Airlines on a special flight eclipse flight that left Portland International Airport Monday morning and headed west over the Pacific Ocean to catch a glimpse of the eclipse 15 minutes before it hit land.

Alaska’s charter Flight #9671 left Oregon’s Portland International Airport before 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time and headed west for two hours out over the Pacific Ocean with an invited guest list of astronomy enthusiasts, eclipse-chasers, a NASA astronaut, and social media contest winners.

NASA Astronaut-Michael Barratt was on board

Before entering the path of totality, Alaska Airlines pilots and invited on-board experts, including Evgenya Shkolnik, an astrophysics professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, meteorologist Joe Rao, and NASA Astronaut Michael Barratt explained to passengers technical details involved with both the eclipse and the flight and gave tips on what to look for as the plane entered the path of totality. They also gave passengers a count-down into and out of the path of totality.

 

Flight plan waypoints chart – courtesy Eric Mann

 

Meterologist and Hayden Planetarium lecturer Joe Rao readies timers – two watches – and cameras to capture his 12th eclipse

Yelps of “There it is!” “Wow! “Oh my goodness!” and “Thank-goodness this worked!” filled the cabin as the flight hit the coordinates that astronomers and pilots had so carefully plotted out beforehand. And, during the 1 minute 43 seconds of the total eclipse, many passengers seated on both the left and right side of the plane swapped seats multiple time so that everyone had a chance to see the astronomical occurrence billed as a “once in a lifetime event.”

Totality – courtesy Alaska Airlines

My full story about the eclipse day adventure is on USA TODAY, but here’s a fun short video of the Great American eclipse flight put together by Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines offers early boarding for (some) football fans

It’s getting harder and harder to snag a spot in the group of passengers that boards the airplane early, but during the 2017 football season Alaska Airlines is once again offering that perk to passengers departing from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport who are wearing the number 3 football jersey worn by Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback who serves as the carrier’s “Chief Football Officer.”

The perk started earlier this month, with the Seahawk’s first pre-season game, and will continue through the end of the regular season.

So dress accordingly.

This is Russell Wilson’s fifth year as Alaska’s Chief Football Officer  and as part of his duties Wilson helps the airline support youth and education programs and various charities, including the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, Strong Against Cancer and Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation.

Wilson also appears in some commercials for Alaska Airlines. Here are a couple of the corny-but-cute latest, featuring Russell Wilson as a talk-show host.