The Alaska & Virgin America Merger Is Almost Complete – 25 April Is The Big Day


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Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have been in the process of merging their operations since December 2016 and, as of 25 April 2018, the merger will be all but complete and the Virgin America brand will mostly disappear into history.

We’ll still see a few aircraft with the Virgin America livery dotted around various airports until all aircraft have been repainted in the Alaska Airlines colors but, from 25 April, that will be the only physical sign that Virgin America ever existed.

Here’s what Alaska Airlines says we can expect from 25 April onwards:

  • Everyone will check-in using one website (alaskaair.com)
  • Everyone will use one mobile app (the Alaska app)
  • One call center will handle all calls (Alaska’s call center).
  • All flights will have Alaska flight numbers.

You won’t see these any more

Before the workday starts on 25 April Alaska says that they will have completed all the physical changes needed to remove the vestiges of Virgin America at all 29 airports Alaska and Virgin serve/served.

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.

In the fall Alaska will begin installing new interior cabins in Virgin America’s aircraft to bring them in line with what Alaska offers but, as the job of painting the aircraft is a quicker one than the one of refitting the cabins, the airline admits that, for a period of time, travelers may find themselves boarding an aircraft with an Alaska Airlines exterior and a Virgin America interior.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing as the Virgin America interiors tended to be pretty good.

Virgin America Interior – Image Jun Seita via Flickr

Alaska expects the re-branding of the Virgin America aircraft to be complete towards the end of 2019.

It’s not only the former Virgin America aircraft that are getting a refresh – Alaska is introducing “custom seats and interiors” to the First Class cabins of its existing aircraft too.

The new interiors will include the addition of a footrest (as often found in international Premium Economy cabins), a tablet holder and “increased cushioning” for the seats.

The refreshed cabin interiors on Alaska’s existing aircraft will also start appearing on routes this fall with the airline aiming to have at least half of its mainline fleet refitted by the end of 2019.

Alaska is also introducing new inflict amenities to its First Class cabins which will include “a cozy quilted throw” and inflight entertainment tablet (on longer flights). The quilted throw will roll out during spring while new larger tablets will arrive later this year.

There are a lot of Virgin America loyalists who will be sad to see the official end of the airline they’ve come to really like over the years and I doubt that Alaska can say very much to stop them from feeling that this is the end of a fun ride.

Alaska and Virgin America are two very different airlines and the fact remains that it’s the Alaska branding and ethos that’s surviving this union and not Virgin’s….we’re going to have to learn to live with that.

On a positive note it’s worth remembering that Alaska is a much friendlier airline than the legacy carriers that rule the US skies and, while Virgin America may no longer be around, at least its fans don’t have to accept the likes of Doug Parker or Scott Kirby running the airline they now find themselves flying – that would probably have been too big of a pill to swallow.