The anticipated phase-out of the innovative American airline known as Virgin America has begun, despite many statements of ambiguity by Alaska Airlines officials that most if not all of the elements or the British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s creation would continue. This new follows the acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines in December 2016.
Alaska Airlines officials state: “After months of research and in-depth conversations with fliers, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire the Virgin America name and logo likely sometime in 2019. However, many of the elements you love about Virgin America will live on, paired with Alaska’s unbeatable performance and top-rated customer service. Our colleagues at Virgin America built something truly amazing over the past decade, and it’s our goal to honor what they achieved while taking it one step further.”
After months of in-depth conversations with loyal Virgin America guests and long-time Alaska fans, we’re ready to take what we’ve learned and make it reality – with a twist.
Post Merger Amenities:
Low fares and service to 21 new markets for Alaska Airlines from San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California – marking the largest addition of routes in company history.
Re-designed blue-lit cabins with music “from new artists” and “stylish uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang” will appear in mid-2019 for flight attendants, customer service agents, pilots, mechanics and ground crew.”
Reliable, high-speed Internet Wi-Fi while retaining Virgin America’s Airbus A320 Fleet.
More Premium Class seats with a 35 inch pitch, along with 18 additional Premium seats (up from 12) added to the A320 Fleet by 2018.
Complimentary Alaska Mileage Plan upgrades to First or premium Class 75 Percent of the Time with Dree Chat and Retention of Virgin Red’s Entertainment System on the Airbus A320 jets.
West Coast-inspired Food and Beverage:
Together with Virgin America, we’re continuing to enhance our fresh, healthy, West Coast-inspired onboard food and beverage menus. Guests of both airlines enjoy craft brews, premium wines and delicious food options. By June 2017, Alaska First Class passengers will be able to pre-select meals before they fly, and by early 2018, Alaska’s Main Cabin passengers will be able to pre-pay for their meals before they fly. Food pre-ordering will be extended to Airbus flights sometime in the future
Alaska Airlines Expansion:
Granted, blaming Alaska Airlines for acquiring Virgin America and working assiduously to blend Virgin America’s unique culture and cabin services would be irresponsible.
For the uninitiated, Alaska Airlines was a medium size “hybrid” of a low-cost carrier (LCC) (think Southwest Airlines) and a full service airline (think American, Delta or United). It was only through Divine Providence that the airline wasn’t acquired as a means of removing competition on the West Coast of the United States. This author, in fact, applauds the expansion of West Coast services and the bulking up of the last truly independent U.S. airline that is now positioned to become more competitive.
While the loss of Virgin America’s ebullient spirit — driven by Sir Richard Branson with a focus on delivering superior customer service will be missed, Virgin America was unable to grow larger with markets already served by rivals Southwest and Jet Blue Airways.
However, it would be a mistake to count out Branson from returning to the U.S. to re-brand an existing smaller carrier with the Virgin name and service his airline was so richly recognized for with endless service awards for excellence.