In early April, surprising news came that Alaska Airlines was buying Virgin America for $2.6 billion.
Though airline mergers are not typically great news for frequent flyers, this one probably will actually benefit travelers. Both airlines have great reputations for customer service and reliability, consistently ranking near the top of the pile for American carriers. By coming together, they can pool resources and best practices and perhaps further improve the overall experience.
“Our employees have worked hard to earn the deep loyalty of customers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, while the Virgin America team has done the same in California,” Brad Tilden, chairman and CEO, Alaska Air Group, said in a statement. “Together we will continue to deliver what customers tell us they want: low fares, unmatched reliability and outstanding customer service.”
Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle and flies to more than 90 destinations in North America. Virgin, a bit smaller, flies to just 22 cities in the United States and Mexico. But together, they’ll make up 1,200 daily departures, 280 aircraft and hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anchorage and Portland.
It remains to be seen how the airlines will merge their conflicting personalities: Virgin is often seen as favored by young and hip travelers, while Alaska is older.
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