Alaska

Richard Branson’s Open Letter About Virgin America’s Demise

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Yesterday we learned a lot of details about the future of Alaska and Virgin America, following the two airlines formally merging late last year. Essentially Alaska will be the surviving brand and airline, though they’ll include some minor Virgin America touches, like mood lighting and hip uniforms.

However, if you’re used to Virgin America’s spacious first class and TVs at every seat, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Alaska flyers should be excited about these updates, as I don’t think it could have worked out a lot better for them. Most significantly:

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BIG Updates About The Future Of Alaska & Virgin America

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Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed in mid-December, though we haven’t seen much in the way of integration so far. The two brands are very different, and their marketing campaigns have been based around that, acknowledging the differences between the brands, but arguing that “different works.”

One of the biggest remaining questions has been what the future of the Virgin America brand will look like. Will the entire airline be named “Alaska,” will they somehow run two brands side-by-side given their relative strengths, or…? They said they hoped to decide on that in early 2017, and it looks like they’ve now made those decisions.

Alaska has just shared a huge amount of information about the future of the combined airline. To sum it up, expect the Alaska brand and product to stick around, with a few small Virgin America elements.

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3 Opportunities To Buy Points With Big Bonuses

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While I’ve written about these deals individually, I think it’s worth posting a reminder that three loyalty programs are offering a pretty compelling bonus on purchased points at the moment. In no particular order:

At the moment Alaska is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles. The bonus is tiered, and the bonus you receive is based on how many miles you buy, as follows:

— Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
— Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 30% bonus
— Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus

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The Alaska Companion Certificate Is Now Valid On Virgin America

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One of the best perks of The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card, and the reason I hold onto this card long term (I hold onto several of these cards long term, actually), is because of the annual companion certificate offered by the card. The card has a $75 annual fee, and every year you get a companion certificate on your cardmember anniversary. You can access the certificate by logging into your Mileage Plan account, and then clicking on the “Discount and companion fare codes” section on the left.

It’s advertised as a $121 companion certificate, though in reality the companion certificate has a $99 base fare, plus taxes and fees starting from $22.

What makes this companion certificate so valuable is that there are no “strings attached.” It’s valid for any economy ticket on Alaska, and the companion is even eligible to earn miles, upgrade, etc. Given that I fly on Alaska at least a couple of times a year with a companion on a ticket that would cost $200+, I come out ahead thanks to this benefit.

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Alaska & Condor Announce A New Partnership!

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Ah, well this makes me sort of nostalgic. Growing up I lived in Tampa while all our relatives lived in the Frankfurt area, so every summer we’d fly back to visit. At the time, German low cost carrier Condor flew nonstop from Tampa to Frankfurt, so we’d always fly with them.

This was back in the day when they still had a smoking section on the plane. My mom is a smoker, so she thought she was doing me a favor when we sat in the first row of the smoking section. She’d point to the smoke and say “see Benny, zhe smoke goes backwards.” What she also failed to account for was that just about every other German on the plane — including those in the non-smoking section — smoked, so after takeoff they’d stand in the aisle right at the first row of the smoking section to light up.

But hey, I got to fly, and that made me happy. Though perhaps this was also the motivating factor that got me into miles & points. 😉

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Alaska Mileage Plan Cuts JAL Premium Economy Awards

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Alaska Milage Plan is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs, thanks to their unique array of partners, the ability to do a stopover even on a one-way award, and much more.

One of the other things that sets Alaska Mileage Plan apart from many other U.S. frequent flyer programs is that they allow award redemptions in premium economy on many of their partner airlines. Historically American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, and United MileagePlus haven’t allow premium economy redemptions.

Presumably this is because in the past they didn’t offer a premium economy product themselves, and the concept of premium economy has been growing a lot the past several years. Now American and Delta are both introducing premium economy, so it’ll be interesting to see if they allow premium economy redemptions on partner airlines (Delta has already introduced premium economy redemptions on Virgin Atlantic, and perhaps that will be extended to other partners in the future).

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Alaska Flyers Will Soon Have More Reciprocal Benefits On Virgin America

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Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed in September, and on day one they introduced reciprocal status matching and points transfers. That’s damn impressive, especially when you consider that the two programs have nearly 100 million members.

Maybe they just set the bar too high, because by comparison it seems like Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America is going at a snail’s pace. Alaska still hasn’t decided how they want to brand Virgin America going forward. I appreciate them taking their time to make these important decisions, though I don’t quite get why they can’t make progress in other areas.

Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed in December, and there’s still not much in the way of reciprocity between the two airlines. As of now:

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New 40% Bonus On Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

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Through April 6, 2017, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles.

Sometimes Alaska offers several mystery targeted offers, where different accounts are targeted for different bonuses. This promo seems to be the same for everyone, and the more miles you purchase the higher your bonus percentage.

• Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
• Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 30% bonus
• Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus

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Last Chance: Buy Alaska Miles With A 40% Bonus

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For the past several weeks, Alaska Mileage Plan has been offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles. Given how valuable Mileage Plan miles are, this represented a great opportunity to pick them up for just a bit over two cents each. If you’ve been holding off on taking advantage of this offer, note that it expires tomorrow, Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

This promotion does seem to be targeted, however, so not all accounts will be eligible for the offer.

As a reminder, with this promotion you receive a 40% mileage bonus when you buy at least 15,000 miles in one transaction. To recap all the other important details of buying Alaska miles:

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What’s Alaska Airlines First Class Like?

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This past weekend I flew Alaska Airlines first class roundtrip from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta, and wanted to report back on the experience. This isn’t a full trip report about the two flights, but rather just a reflection on Alaska’s overall first class product.

Back in the day when I lived in the Pacific Northwest I flew Alaska all the time, though it has been a while since I’ve flown with them. So I figured I’d share my overall impression of the Alaska first class experience.

Alaska’s 737-900 aircraft feature 16 first class seats.

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Woman Kicked Off Alaska Flight For Going On Anti-Trump Rant

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A Facebook video is going viral of a lady who was kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight from Baltimore to Seattle this past Saturday. Here’s how the guy who sat next to her (a Trump supporter, who was being attacked) describes the event on Facebook:

“Just had the craziest experience ever on an airplane:

I’m boarding my flight from Baltimore to Seattle and approach my seat. I had an upgraded seat that I paid a little extra for because of the long 6 hour flight. As I approach my row I smile and motion to the husband and wife sitting in the aisle and middle seat that Imy seat was next to the window. I put my backpack in the overhead and the wife with a very stern voice says to me:”

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Great Business Class Fares To China On Hainan!

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Last January Hainan Airlines began twice weekly flights between Los Angeles and Changsha, which is an interesting new route. They had some incredible ~$1,350 roundtrip business class introductory fares when the route first launched, which represented an incredible deal, especially since the tickets came with chauffeur service on both ends of the trip.

So I flew Hainan from Los Angeles and Changsha and Changsha to Los Angeles, and really enjoyed my flights on them. In spite of the mediocre hard product, the soft product was excellent, among the best offered on any Chinese carrier (perhaps along with Xiamen Air).

The icing on the cake with these great Hainan fares is that they’re an Alaska Mileage Plan partner, and “R” fares (which is what these tickets book into) earn 200% elite qualifying and redeemable miles. That means the roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Changsha earned about 28,000 elite qualifying miles.

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Today Only: Earn 15 Alaska Miles Per Dollar Spent At Select Retailers

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Online shopping portals can be a great way to pick up additional miles & points for purchases you’d make anyway. Just for following a specific link you can earn bonus points in addition to the ones you’d earn anyway for credit card spend.

Sometimes it gets even better than that, as shopping portals have promotions with even better bonuses than usual. Well, there’s one such promotion now.

Through 11:59PM ET today, Friday, January 20, 2017, you can earn 15 bonus Alaska miles per dollar spent at select retailers.

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