It’s interesting to see how Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has been transforming itself as it merges the Virgin America brand into its business. In the latest upgrade to the Alaska Airlines product, the airline has just announced plans to significantly improve its First Class service and refresh cabin interiors for the majority of its fleet by the end of 2019.
Alaska closed its acquisition of Virgin America in December 2016 and after much thought decided to merge the brand into its own – the aim has been to mix the best bits from what made both airline’s passenger favourites into one combined airline.
Building on the cool Californian vibe that Virgin America had created for its own brand, Alaska has coined the phrase ‘West coast-inspired’ to describe the feel its now trying to create. We’ve already seen Alaska unveil new staff uniforms for the post-merger airline and now we’ve got more details on what the actual customer proposition will look like.
Alaska has just unveiled a series of improvements its going to make to its First Class product – including new seats, in-flight service and dining. The first improvement will be the new First Class menu that is going to be rolled out over the next few weeks on all Alaska flights that are longer than 675 miles.
“The new menu features fresh, local ingredients paired with seasonal favourites. Think strawberry-lime smoothie shots, an avocado bacon omelette, or a flank steak salad with green papaya, mint and lime wedges,” reads the Alaska press release.
Healthy options, protein plates and a vegetarian option will also be available, while passengers on shorter flights will enjoy a fresh snack like a chipotle or edamame hummus plate.
The new menu will be dished up on bespoke Schönwald serving pieces inspired by Virgin America and passengers should soon be able to reserve their first preference meal via the Alaska mobile app to avoid disappointment.
Other upgrade plans, however, will be a little longer in the works before passengers get to enjoy them. Alaska says “refreshed cabin interiors will debut this fall” although the majority of the fleet won’t be retrofitted until the end of 2019.
First Class passengers will get footrests, tablet holders, and increased cushioning, along with upgraded amenities like a quilted duvet. A brand new 15,000 square-foot flagship lounge in Seattle is slated to open in 2019 while a new lounge in New York JFK is going to be unveiled in April.
“By drawing inspiration from both Alaska and Virgin America, we’re building a premium experience that offers a signature West Coast vibe, great value, and genuine caring service,” explains Andrew Harrison, Alaska’s chief commercial officer.
“This is all part of creating an airline people love.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.