An Insight into Alaska Airlines’ Mindset Going Forward with Virgin America Merger

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 A Guest Post by John @laptoptravel

Alaska Airlines Virgin America Merger laptoptravel Website Banner

The Merger is Expected to Be Completed in 2018

Alaska Airlines Virgin America Merger laptoptravel

I am very excited, as so many are, and intrigued by the merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. For myself, as an MVP 75K member, it opens up new opportunities, increased capacity and more choices (especially along the West Coast.)

First Class Alaska Airlines

First Class breakfast aboard Alaska’s B737-800 (enroute between SEA & LAX)

Alaska has a team dedicated to the transition and we are anxious to hear exactly how they plan to integrate Virgin’s fleet and operational uniqueness into the Alaska system. There is a lot of speculation of what Alaska will or won’t do when it comes to absorbing Virgin America’s ‘hip peculiarities’; Boeing versus Airbus, Hip versus Conservative, Routes, Interiors, Perks and an endless myriad of policies.  How will they do it?  What are they thinking?

Thankfully, this week, we got another peek into the mindset of Alaska regarding some of those issues. Here are some highlights from a recent presentation by Scott Habberstad, Director of Sales and Community Marketing for Alaska Airlines.

A recent report by KRBD, a Ketchikan, Alaska radio station and news organization, offers some insights into Alaska Airlines’ thinking going forward with the Virgin American merger. Habberstad stated that the airline sees no reason why the merger would not get approved by the government. He also addresses the culture of Virgin America and how that might translate, in some form, through to Alaska Airlines’ operations:

“Virgin is different. It’s an experience. You board listening to Beyoncé,” he said. “It’s got purple mood lighting in the airplanes. It’s a different experience, but it’s a good experience. It’s fresher, it’s new. While I don’t think you’ll board to Beyoncé on us in the future, there might be a little bit of an uptick: A little fresher brand coming from us.”

He also said that Alaska will ‘try out’ the Airbus aircraft which are currently mostly leased on Virgin’s fleet.

Habberstad also mentioned Alaska Airlines’ relationship with Delta. He said “Delta is a good partner and a good competitor.” He also remarked that in spite of the fierce competition with Delta in the Seattle market that the Virgin America merger will allow Alaska to strengthen that position.

 

Synergy RouteMap Alaska Airlines Virgin America Merger

Current Map of Both Airlines’ Routes

I take that statement (about Delta being a good partner) with a grain of salt.  Surely, with a written partnership agreement between the two airlines negative statements are going to come forth with minimal frequency.  The two airlines still work together and Alaska even offers bonus EQM’s for its Alaska frequent flyer program, MileagePlan for members who fly Delta’s premium fares and credit them back to their Alaska account.

Habberstad added that the company will be concentrating on expanding its international partnerships in the future as well.

This is an absolute necessity; since Alaska’s international reach is limited to Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico. As the SeaTac (Seattle/Tacoma) Airport continues with its new international terminal it’s in Alaska’s best interest to get some ancillary revenue through that with increased international flights and partnerships.  After all, Alaska is going to pay its share for that terminal, based on passenger traffic whether they like it or not; a fact that Delta will surely reap the benefits of as it ramps up its Seattle hub for future international destinations and increased routes.  Delta’s goal is to increase its flights five-fold over summer of 2014’s traffic.

Alaska has a lot on their plate, and as oil prices (and jet fuel costs) rise, the costs of the merger, paying for the new SeaTac international terminal and competition with Delta make its burden heavy-laden, so no missteps can be afforded.

What do you think of the Alaska/Virgin merger?  Do you think this will help Alaska in their battle with their ‘frenemy’ Delta Air Lines? Have Fun ‘Up there!’ – John @ laptoptravel

Las Vegas to San Juan $577 & 9144 MQMs 6CPM Weekday Delta Elite Mileage Run

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  Saturday, November 28, 2015 by John @laptoptravel

A Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Route Map

Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Route Map

B Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Kayak fares

Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Kayak fares

C Las Vegas to San Juan Purto Rico Delta Airlines

Las Vegas to San Juan Purto Rico Delta Airlines


Let me follow-up my last Mileage Run post (which was San Diego to San Juan) with another trip headed to the warm, sunny shores of San Juan, Puerto Rico. This may not have the same appeal for Californians as for those stuck in the harsher northern climates, but it is still MQM’s on the cheap. Perhaps many of you could reposition to Las Vegas to take advantage of this, or to San Diego to hop on that other Mileage Run starting from there and get your MQM’s in before the year’s end.

Now, let us look at our second Mileage Run to San Juan.

Again, Delta is being very difficult when it comes to pushing some fare prices through. I worked the numbers and had this fare down to $415 but Delta (again, like with my previous post) keeps tossing me out when trying to book at that price. You can find cheaper flights to SJU, however not for the same MQM’s, thereby driving your costs up, so be cautious.

This is a variant of the Los Angeles to San Juan Mileage Run (my earlier post) and piggybacks off many of those flights. Fly out of Las Vegas and head through Los Angeles. You get to leave in the late afternoon connect easily through LAX on this route. You get the LAX to JFK Transcontinental flight segment (in both directions.) If you still have some Global Upgrade or Regional Upgrade Certificates you might choose to use them here on this run. You should read René’s latest post on using Regional Upgrades first if you are considering this…

You arrive in the early afternoon in San Juan so you can relax on the beach day and enjoy San Juan and an overnight. You have a broad range of hotels to choose from near the airport, from really inexpensive (what I call layover) hotels to 5-Star resorts. After you night in SJU you depart the next morning and arrive back in Las Vegas late the same evening.

There are several dates open in December for this run, although the cheapest date is depart Monday, December 7th, arrive SJU on Tuesday the 8th and depart on Wednesday, the 9th.

The Details:

MQM’s: 9144 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM’s)

Ticket Price:     $577

6.3 Cents Per Mile (CPM)

Bookable on Delta.com

A total of six segments, here is your routing: LAS-LAX-JFK-SJU-JFK-LAX-LAS

(Monday’s Dec 7th) DIRECT KAYAK BOOKING LINK

Please LOGIN first you your Delta.com account before clicking any links. The, once you are signed into your Delta.com account then click on the desired link from above and then choose your flights by pressing SELECT on the flights displayed that match the Mileage Run I have posted. You will then be taken directly into a Delta window where you can see the flights, the miles, the cost and Purchase the ticket!

In looking at the best connections, you need to put that LAX-JFK in your outbound and JFK-LAX in your return to maximize your MQM’s – John @laptoptravel