Hello beautiful! My Alaska Airlines VIP Airbus A321neo. Yes, it is weird typing “Alaska Airlines” and “Airbus” together.
Change is inevitable — especially in the airline business. Change can be all fine and dandy when you are talking about it conceptually, but when the time comes, it is not always easy. As you probably know by now, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America merged, and the red/white Virgin livery is quickly being retired. Virgin was known to be a bit risky in their branding and marketing…. and Alaska played it a bit more safe. Although Alaska will be sending the Virgin America brand into the history books, it has been important for Alaska to incorporate some of the Virgin culture into the new merged airline. Not just for the customers who loved the Virgin product, but also for the employees who are in the process of getting to know their new family.
Ironically, the Alaska 737 with the ‘More to Love’ livery celebrating their merger with Virgin was parked next to our A321 at SFO – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | JDLMultimedia
I was recently invited to fly down to San Francisco (SFO) to get a first hand look of the new Alaska Airlines product that will soon be found across the fleet. At gate 54B, the airline had set up walls, and inside were a variety of new products to be experienced. Also, there were experts to answer your questions about what was new. There was a special treat, too. What better way to put it all together than to take a special VIP flight on one of their Airbus A321s (that previously flew for Virgin America, obviously)?
I was interested to see the balance Alaska decided on, and get a better idea of my hometown airline’s future.
Beautiful intake fan blades on the Airbus A321neo
Recently, America lost an airline. Well, sort of. The happy Eskimo on Alaska Airlines’ tail got hungry and decided to gobble up Virgin America, the relatively small but much beloved Bay Area-based carrier. As Alaska adopted the fleet and people of Redwood (Virgin America’s old callsign), it started repainting Virgin planes and making plans to replace aircraft interiors with a consistent Alaska product.
But at least for now, remnants of Virgin America’s unique style can still be found … if you know where to look. Try Alaska’s new A321neos, originally ordered by Virgin America. We experienced one firsthand on a transcon flight from Washington Dulles to San Francisco, and were delighted by the spacious seats, cabin comfort, and the very purple Virgin sense of style.
Read on for more photos and videos from this new-yet-nostalgic ride.
The special More to Love livery celebrating Virgin and Alaska becoming one – Photo: Alaska Airlines
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Alaska Airlines. I feel that they provide consistent, friendly service while having a nice product. They are like your really great friend that you always look forward to hanging out with.
Even though Alaska and I have a friendly relationship, they know I see other airlines from time-to-time. Often it is just for price or timing, but I end up back to Alaska. Mostly.
When Virgin America came to the Seattle market, things changed. Here you had a hip, friendly, cheap airline with more bells and whistles than any other domestic airline at the time. WiFi? Yup. In-seat entertainment? Of course. Fancy cabins? The fanciest. Great food? Yummy! Fun toys? Yes to all that and more. Virgin America spiced up my airline life.
The special More to Love livery at SFO – Photo: Alaska Airlines
We are a go! The merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America is official. To help celebrate, and welcome new members to the family, Alaska created a special “More to Love” livery on one of their Boeing 737-900ERs. What better way to bring two airlines together?
The painted engine on the special liveried 737 – Photo: Alaska Airlines
It is not a big surprise that the merger finalized, but the journey wasn’t exactly easy. Although many questions still remain, when things are said and done, the new combined airline will have about 1,200 daily departures to 118 destinations, with hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon. They will also have a fleet of about 286 aircraft — the future of the Airbus fleet has not yet been finalized.