Since the merger, Alaska has toyed with the idea of keeping the Virgin America brand, which has crafted a quirky, tech-friendly image that focuses on its in-air experience. This includes enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, and music. Keep expecting - and demanding - more from your airlines!
Alaska said it is not making changes to its economy seats on the Virgin fleet, which now features screens for in-flight entertainment.
The same release, however, promised that the combined airline will adopt numerous brand elements that Virgin America fans always loved about their experience with the airline, including mood lighting, music, and enhanced in-flight entertainment - essentially, a cool and distinguishable vibe.
"We spent the last 10 months conducting extensive research and listening carefully to what fliers on the West Coast want most", Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines' Vice President of Marketing, said in a statement. "It was a long and hard journey but in the end you are the best consumer airline in America". Thus, with the retirement of the Virgin name, Alaska would be saving a significant amount of money that has so far gone exclusively to royalties.
Richard Branson, the British billionaire whose backing and minority ownership stake made the airline possible, posted a letter on Virgin's website bemoaning that Alaska couldn't find a place for Virgin.
Velocity Frequent Flyer members will be able to earn Velocity Points and Status Credits on these flights, while details of reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and lounge access are expected to be unveiled at a later date together with codeshare arrangements. The signature pink and purple mood lighting of the airline will also disappear and a new blue will take its place. The staff of Alaska Airlines would also have new uniforms created by Luly Yang, a Seattle-based fashion designer. According to the airline, new first class seating would be introduced to Virgin's fleet by Q4 2018. Fans of Virgin's Economy seats, which feature in-flight entertainment systems, need not fear, as the feature would be retained even after the brand is retired.
Beginning fall 2018, the entire fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft will be equipped with satellite Wi-Fi, with the rest of the Airbus fleet following suit shortly afterward.
It will also add permanent free TV episodes and movies available via streaming to devices brought on board by passengers and beginning in August the screens on the seat backs will have the same content at no charge.
Harrison said he isn't sure if Alaska Airlines will continue to lease or buy both types of planes or will slowly ween the carrier away from the Airbus fleet.