Alaska

Virgin America Has Stopped Accepting Applications For Their Credit Card

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When airline mergers happen, it’s almost inevitable that changes will also happen with their partnerships. Many airlines have exclusivity agreements with some of their partners, so that’s a detail that has to be hashed out when two airlines join forces.

Typically this comes in the form of the company taking over keeping their agreement, and the company being taken over discontinuing their agreement. However, that’s not always the case. For example, when American took over US Airways, they maintained relationships with both Barclaycard and Citi.

With Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America having closed late last year, and with Alaska recently sharing their vision for the combined airline, it’s clear that not much of the Virgin America brand will survive. I think a lot of us assumed this would be the fate of their co-branded credit card as well, and it looks like that happened sooner rather than later.

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Priority Pass Members Can No Longer Bring Guests Into Alaska Lounges

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As I’ve written about in the past, Priority Pass members are increasingly reporting issues with accessing certain lounges. While it’s not the case at most lounges, some of the most popular ones are restricting access to Priority Pass members due to space constraints.

Yesterday I wrote about how the biggest issue is with Alaska Lounges, as they seem to consistently be limiting access to Priority Pass members. There were rumors that some Alaska Lounges would be leaving Priority Pass altogether, though I confirmed with Alaska’s PR department that this wasn’t the case.

This situation is of course frustrating, and it seems like there are two short term solutions here:

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Priority Pass Isn’t Cutting Ties With Alaska Lounges, But…

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As I’ve written about in the past, Priority Pass members are increasingly reporting issues with accessing certain lounges. While it’s not the case at most lounges, some of the most popular ones are restricting access to Priority Pass members due to space constraints.

This is likely due to the huge increase in the number of people who have Priority Pass memberships, because of the increasing popularity of premium credit cards. For those of you not familiar, here’s how the Priority Pass business model works:

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Alaska & Virgin America Are Moving To JFK’s Terminal 7

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Alaska and Virgin America are still in the early stages of their merger, and have a lot of work to do in terms of consolidating and streamlining operations. This includes things like updating interiors, consolidating operations at airports, etc.

Historically Virgin America is the airline with the stronger presence at New York’s JFK Airport. Up until now Alaska has only had a single flight to JFK, and they’ll soon be adding a flight from Portland to JFK.

Well, the “new” Alaska has just announced their plans for their future at JFK. Alaska and Virgin America will be consolidating operations at JFK’s Terminal 7 as of October 2017. Presently Alaska operates out of Terminal 8, while Virgin America operates out of Terminal 4.

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Alaska Is Offering A Flash Sale On The Purchase Of Miles

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Alaska frequently offers bonuses on purchased miles, typically as high as 40%. Alaska has just announced their latest such promotion, which is more of a flash sale, and it’s different than the ones they’ve offered in the past.

Through May 3, 2017, or “while supplies last,” Alaska Mileage Plan is offering 4,000 bonus miles when you buy 10,000 miles. This offer is only available to the first 2,500 members who take advantage of the promotion. I assume that if the website shows the 4,000 bonus miles when you make the purchase, you’re good to go.

Each member can take advantage of this promotion at most five times. If you purchase 10,000 miles you’ll receive a total of 14,000 miles at a cost of $295.63 including tax, which is a cost of ~2.11 cents per mile. That’s typically as cheap of a cost as you’ll see on the purchase of Alaska miles.

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Alaska Is Going Above And Beyond To Deal With “Cross-Fleeting” Issues

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Earlier I wrote about a situation where a reader booked a ticket in Virgin America first class from Dallas to New York, and was rebooked in first class on an Alaska regional jet instead.

Following a merger, it’s common for airlines to start “cross-fleeting,” which is the practice of swapping the planes they use on routes to reflect demand. While Alaska is continuing to operate the ex-Alaska and ex-Virgin America fleets separately, they can still move planes around a bit. In this case they decided that they were better off putting Embraer 175s on their route from Dallas to New York, and using the Virgin America A319s for different routes. This change kicks in for flights as of late August.

This presents a slight problem, though:

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Alaska And Virgin America Are Swapping Planes On Some Routes, And It’s Problematic

Alaska Skywest airplane

While Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America formally closed late last year, so far it has more or less been business as usual for customers. Typically it’s 1-2 years after an airline merger closes when customers are most impacted, as the airlines align policies. This applies to their onboard products, frequent flyer programs, schedules, etc.

A few weeks ago we learned about Alaska’s plans for Virgin America. Essentially, the Virgin America experience will be discontinued, including their superior first class product, frequent flyer program, etc. However, it’s going to be several years before those changes are fully implemented.

Now we’re starting to see the two airlines swap planes on some routes. The airlines have very different fleets — Virgin America exclusively has Airbus A320-family aircraft, while Alaska has 737s, along with some regional jets. So they can now do a better job of flying the right size plane on the right route.

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Your Last Chance To Buy Alaska Miles With A 40% Bonus

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Since mid-February, Alaska Mileage Plan has been offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles.

Through this promotion there’s a tiered bonus on purchased miles, where you earn a bigger bonus the more 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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Alaska Airlines Is Adding Flights To Detroit, New York, And Philadelphia

Alaska-Rebrand

With Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America having closed late last year, it’s interesting to see what the expansion efforts of the combined airline look like. Just a couple of weeks ago we learned about the future of the “new” Alaska’s branding, and about how it’s basically going to be business as usual for Alaska.

Well, Alaska has just announced their three newest routes, all of which are either midcons or transcons, and all of which are redeyes on the eastbound flight (ouch!).

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Richard Branson Wants Alaska Airlines To Pay Him Licensing Fees Until 2040

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While Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America was finalized late last year, they only outlined the future of the brand last week. Alaska wanted to take time to decide whether or not they wanted to keep the Virgin America brand around.

While Virgin America has a loyal following, so does Alaska Airlines. From the beginning I thought they were going to dump the Virgin brand, as I’ve always viewed Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America as being about keeping them out of JetBlue’s hands, and establishing themselves as the truly dominant carrier on the West Coast.

So last week we learned that Alaska plans on retiring the Virgin America brand sometime in 2019. Shortly after this announcement Richard Branson wrote an open letter to Virgin America employees sharing his disappointment in this move, and also expressing how proud he is of what they’ve built. He stated his disappointment even more clearly recently, as quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal:

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The Virgin America Elevate Program Will Be Discontinued As Of January 1, 2018

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Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed in mid-December, though for a while we didn’t know what the future of the combined airline would look like. That’s because Alaska was still deciding to what extent they wanted to keep around the Virgin America brand.

Last week Alaska finally shared a vision for what they wanted the future of the airline to look like. That future basically consists of “business as usual” for Alaska, and not much of the Virgin America brand surviving, other than a “hip” vibe. For example, Virgin America’s spacious first class product will slowly be phrased out and replaced by a more standard first class product (which I can’t imagine will compete very well on transcon flights).

We learned that the Virgin America brand as such would be discontinued sometime in 2019, and that Virgin America’s Elevate program would be folded into the Alaska Mileage Plan program sometime in 2018, though didn’t have an exact timeline beyond that.

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Join Alaska Mileage Plan And Earn 5,000 Bonus Miles After Your First Flight

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Earlier in the year, Alaska offered 10,000 bonus miles to anyone who had both an Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate account, and then linked them. While Virgin America Elevate won’t cease to exist until early 2018, they already want as many people as possible to link their accounts.

Well, for those of you who aren’t members of Alaska Mileage Plan, they have a pretty great new member bonus at the moment. You can earn 5,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles if you enroll using this link between March 23 and April 30, 2017, and complete an Alaska or Virgin America flight by September 30, 2017.

To qualify, the member must book a ticket eligible for earning Mileage Plan miles, and must credit it to their Mileage Plan account. You can receive the bonus a maximum of one time, and it’s not valid with any other Mileage Plan enrollment bonus.

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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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