Merger Update: Big Changes Coming to Alaska Airlines and Virgin America!

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The merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America continues to move forward, with some big changes coming in the near future!

Via Travel Codex, Alaska Airlines announced more details about the merger with Virgin America.  And it’s mostly good news!  For example, you can expect enhanced in-flight entertainment, updated cabins, and lots of Virgin America personality across all Alaska Airlines flights.

But they’ve confirmed the Virgin America brand will disappear in 2019.

Merger Update Big Changes Coming To Alaska Airlines And Virgin America
Alaska Airlines Is Keeping Some of the Virgin America Personality! Including Fun Mood Lighting in the Cabin

I’ll give you an update on the merger, and tell you what to expect going forward.

What Are Alaska Airlines’ Plans for Virgin America?

Link:   Alaska Airlines Merger Update

I’ve only flown Virgin America once.  But I really enjoyed the experience!

It truly felt different than any plane I’ve been in before.  The cabin was beautiful, and the flight attendants were really friendly.  They even offered to help passengers put items in the overhead bin!

So I understand why so many people are upset to see Virgin America go.  It’s a very distinct brand with excellent qualities.  But Alaska Airlines is keeping many of the best (and most fun) quirks of the Virgin America brand.

Virgin America Will Disappear in 2019

Alaska Airlines is discontinuing the Virgin America name in 2019.  That’s quite a blow to lots of folks on the West Coast who loved Virgin America!  But it’s not all bad news.

Alaska Airlines is by no means discontinuing the Virgin America experience.  While the Virgin America brand and its Elevate loyalty program will be gone, Alaska Airlines is sticking to its goal of combining 2 great airline personalities.

Merger Update Big Changes Coming To Alaska Airlines And Virgin America
Going Forward, In-Flight Movies and TV Shows Will Be Free to Watch on Your Device

They are bringing a lot of the what made Virgin America unique to the Alaska Airlines brand, like mood lighting, updated seats, and more.

Airline Enhancements

Alaska Airlines is taking this opportunity to upgrade its entire brand.  And it’s taking some cues from Virgin America!  Here are the highlights:

1.   Improved In-Flight Entertainment

Alaska Airlines now offers free movie streaming on their Boeing planes.  And in a few months, they’ll offer the same on Virgin America planes.

Alaska Airlines is also bringing its in-flight Free Chat feature (through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage) to Virgin America planes in August 2017.

2.   New Airplane Cabin Experience

Alaska Airlines plans to redesign its cabins some time in 2018.  We don’t know what that means exactly, but it looks like they’re changing the seats quite a bit.

The First Class cabin is taking a step backward.  Alaska Airlines is adding 4 more First Class seats to Virgin America planes.  So you’ll have less breathing room, but you’ll also have more opportunities to book a First Class seat.

Merger Update Big Changes Coming To Alaska Airlines And Virgin America
Say Goodbye to Some of the Best Domestic First Class Seats

Alaska Airlines also plans to add 18 new “Premium Class” seats to Airbus planes, which is a coach seat with more legroom and free snacks and drinks (including alcohol).

And they’ll be updating employee uniforms in 2019 as well.

3.   Satellite Internet

Alaska Airlines will begin making all their Boeing planes Wi-Fi capable in fall 2018.  And they’ll do the same to their Airbus planes after that.  They plan for all their planes to have high-speed satellite Wi-Fi by the end of 2019.

4.   New Airport Lounges

Alaska Airlines plans to open new lounges by 2019 in San Francisco and New York (JFK).  And they’ll improve their current lounges in Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.

5.   Food and Drinks

Going forward, Alaska Airlines says they’ll continue to enhance their West Coast inspired food and drink choices.  Starting in June 2017, Alaska Airlines First Class passengers will be able to pre-select their meal before their flight.  And in early 2018, folks will be able to pre-pay for their meals prior to departure.

Merger Update Big Changes Coming To Alaska Airlines And Virgin America
Alaska Airlines Promises Enhancements to Their In-Flight Food and Drink, Which Already Includes Craft Beer and West Coast Inspired Food

And they’ll eventually extend the ability to pre-order food to the Airbus fleet.

What’s the Verdict?

Alaska Airlines is trying to bring the best of both worlds to their new airline, though they don’t quite hit the bulls-eye.

For example, they are bringing their Free Chat feature to Virgin America planes (good!).  But they’re also getting rid of Virgin America’s top-notch First Class seats (bad).

Transfer Virgin America Points to Alaska Airlines

You can convert Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines miles at a ratio of 1 : 1.3.  So if you need more Alaska Airlines miles, you can apply for:

Note:   The Virgin America cards will likely be discontinued soon.  So I wouldn’t wait long if you’ve been considering these cards.

Bottom Line

Alaska Airlines made some big announcements about their plans for Virgin America!

Alaska Airlines is discontinuing the Virgin America brand in 2019.  But they’ll integrate some of the things people appreciate about the airline into their own brand!  So folks who are disappointed about the merger won’t lose all the things they love.

The new Alaska Airlines will eventually come with things like:

  • Improved in-flight entertainment
  • New airplane cabins
  • Satellite Internet
  • More lounges

Are you happy about these changes?  Let me know in the comments!

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