Alaska Air Group has confirmed plans to retire the Virgin America brand, following last year’s US$4 billion merger deal.
The SeaTac-based group said that “After careful consideration, the combined company will adopt Alaska’s name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name likely sometime in 2019”.
But Alaska Air added that “the combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests”.
A phased merger programme over the next few years will see changes including:
- The retrofitting of selected aircraft, with new seats, amenities and “expressive blue mood lighting”
- New uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang to be rolled out in mid-2019
- Alaska’s fleet of B737 aircraft to be fitted with high-speed satellite wifi in autumn 2018, with the remainder of its Airbus fleet to follow by the end of 2019
- Premium seating to be expanded across the group’s Airbus fleet in from the fourth quarter of 2018, with the number of first class seats increasing from eight to 12 per aircraft, and 18 new Premium Class seats being added with 35 inches of seat pitch
- Virgin America’s frequent flyer programme will be merged into the Alaska Mileage Plan in 2018
- Elite members will enjoy more complimentary upgrades as a result of the increase in the number of premium seats
- Free in-flight entertainment on passengers’ personal devices has now been made a permanent feature on Boeing aircraft, following a temporary promotion earlier this year
- By June this year Alaska first class passengers will be able to pre-select meals before they fly, and Main Cabin customers will be able to pre-pay for meals before they fly by early 2018
- Refreshed and expanded airport lounges will be unveiled in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles by early 2019, as well as new facilities in San Francisco and New York JFK
The combined airline group flies to 118 destinations, with 25 new daily departures having been recently announced from San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California.