Written on 15th December 2016

Alaska Air Group closes acquisition of Virgin America

Alaska Air Group announced it has closed its acquisition of Virgin America. The definitive merger agreement, which was signed in April and approved by Virgin America shareholders in July, brings together two of the country’s airlines into a unified force that will provide an attractive alternative in the domestic market.

Together, the airlines offer 289 daily flights to 52 destinations from California, including 113 daily nonstop flights to 32 destinations from three Bay Area airports and 105 daily nonstop flights to 37 destinations from four Los Angeles area airports.

In addition, the combination opens up growth opportunities in important East Coast business markets by increasing Alaska Air Group’s access to high-demand airports like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the three primary New York City-area airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

The company also announced new flights from its San Francisco hub to Orlando (daily), Minneapolis (twice daily) and Orange County, California (four times daily) beginning in the summer of 2017.

For customers with future travel already booked on Alaska Airlines or Virgin America, business continues as usual.

Expanded benefits with Alaska Mileage Plan

Starting Monday, December 19th, Mileage Plan members will be able to earn miles on Virgin America flights and Virgin America Elevate members will be able to earn points on Alaska Airlines flights. Both airlines’ elite members will receive priority check-in and priority boarding on each other’s flights.

Additionally, starting December 19th, customers will be able to purchase Virgin America tickets at alaskaair.com. Tickets will continue to be available for sale at virginamerica.com for the immediate future.

Beginning January 9th, 2017, Virgin America Elevate members will be invited by Alaska Airlines to activate new Mileage Plan accounts. This will allow them to also earn Mileage Plan miles when flying with Alaska and any of Alaska’s Global Partners to over 800 destinations worldwide. Alaska Global Partners account for 44 percent of all international airline seats flown to and from the U.S. – more than any of the big three airline alliances – and offer more than three times the worldwide destinations that Virgin America frequent fliers currently have access to.

Members of Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan program enjoy:

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has been named the No. 1 airline rewards program two years in a row by U.S. News & World Report and ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Airline Loyalty Rewards Programs, Three Years in a Row” in the J.D. Power 2016 Airline Loyalty Rewards Program Satisfaction Report
  • The ability to earn miles based on distance flown on Alaska, not just dollars spent
  • Access to over 800 worldwide destinations with Alaska and Alaska’s Global Partners
  • Generous award travel availability
  • A faster path to elite status compared to other airline loyalty programs, with benefits including:
    • Complimentary seat upgrades
    • Waived change fees for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
    • Free checked bags
    • Priority check-in and boarding
    • Express security for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
  • The option to apply for a popular credit card that offers cardholders one mile earned for every dollar spent on purchases, triple miles on Alaska Airlines purchases, a 30,000-mile new cardholder bonus after qualifying spend, an annual companion fare offer from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees starting from $22), a free checked bag on every flight and no foreign transaction fees

The future of the Virgin America brand

No decisions regarding the Virgin America brand have been made. Alaska plans to continue to operate the Virgin America fleet with its current name and product for a period of time while it conducts extensive customer research to understand what fliers value the most. Virgin America will continue to fly under its brand with no immediate changes to the onboard product or experience.

Source: Virgin America