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Disgruntled AS Employees: "It's a race to the bottom."

Disgruntled AS Employees: "It's a race to the bottom."

Old Jan 9, 18, 7:25 am
  #46  
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Originally Posted by B787938 View Post
To me, the AS and VX combo is starting to seem eerily similar to the UA and CO merger. Perhaps my view is very simple, but it seems like AS management is taking their employees' and customers' good will toward the airline for granted.
Umm... yes and no. UA/CO managers set out to teach their "overentitled" customers a lesson. They imagined they could exploit / bleed captive constituents while stripping down operations and shifting lift to garbage regionals, and make bank. AS doesn't harbor that sort of contempt for its base -- not even in the executive suite.

But -- the AS view of the world is something like the sheltered, parochial pre-merger CO view: you dig in at a couple of key markets, shut out the rest of the world, and tell yourself you're the bestest airline ever, darn it. ANC and SEA are to AS as IAH and EWR were to CO. Continental ended up non-competitive in that posture. Hate to think of what awaits AS in a similar posture.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 10:49 am
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
But -- the AS view of the world is something like the sheltered, parochial pre-merger CO view: you dig in at a couple of key markets, shut out the rest of the world, and tell yourself you're the bestest airline ever, darn it. ANC and SEA are to AS as IAH and EWR were to CO. Continental ended up non-competitive in that posture. Hate to think of what awaits AS in a similar posture.
Agree somewhat, but couldn't one argue that the VX acquisition is/was a pretty clear sign that AS isn't just hunkering down in ANC and SEA, and is instead looking to fill out along the west coast? I get that the VX move may have been largely defensive, etc etc, but I find it hard to totally believe that AS is just hiding in the PNW unless I imagine the VX deal never happened.

Airline mergers are messy things, so I imagine things will get worse for AS/VX before they (hopefully) get better. But I'm not sure what alternative AS had, with DL encroaching in SEA, B6 moving in elsewhere along the WC, WN expanding to HI (ok, maybe they didn't know this then but you have to imagine nobody else is sitting still), etc. So, I wish them the best.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 12:21 pm
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by DrAlex View Post
That's a matter of opinion: YMMV. It may depend on time of day, phase of the moon, and whether Mercury is in retrograde...



Are you high on the legal stuff? [Don't worry, I won't tell Mr. Sessions] As others have pointed out, not having to spend $2K for base status is kinda a big deal to those paying with their own money (or those cost-conscious small business owners). You could achieve MVP for around $1K if you are based in SEA and do the SEA-BOS route four times a year plus a SEA-BLI or something similar. It's by far the easiest elite status to achieve. And don't even get me started about the SkyPeso... (rant here: Why go to Amsterdam when you can go to International Falls!?). That was the start of how they lost my business (except for those routes where there is no other choice).
The point about MVP being easy to qualify for is well taken for an occasional flyer. I’m mostly focused on top tier status (MVPG/75K vs Gold/Platinum/Diamond). The MQD requirement on Delta is frustrating, but there are ways around it without spending tons of OPM, especially if you travel internationally on partner airlines.

SkyPesos are an interesting beast. They’re awful, but there are curious redemption sweet spots that work out incredibly well when you get lucky. 12k miles for SEA-FAI round trip is a steal, for example; in the latest update to the program, off peak short hop flights can actually be a much-better-than-1cpm value. I just used 25k for a business class upgrade from PE on Virgin Atlantic, too, which is also valuable.

AS miles are ostensibly more useful, if you can find award space, but I’m often date constrained and have never been able to make a single redemption for my war chest of miles yet. Many of the best deals are gone (sadly I joined AS right after the EK devaluation), and some partners charge ridiculous fuel surcharges for a crappy product (glaring in the general direction of BA). And when I want to take a domestic trip, I’ve found short AS redemptions on their own metal are weirdly expensive. There are still great values I plan to take advantage of, and the ability to redeem for F is awesome compared to DL. But I think Mileage Plan’s reputation for generosity is lagging the reality of the program in 2018.

As for onboard service, any individual flight will be different based on people and alignment of the stars, but there are many parts of DL’s service standard I find objectively better. Pre departure beverages are served. Catering on west coast flights in F is a full meal, not a crudité platter. F cabins have a better F:Y ratio, meaning more seats available for upgrades. Some aircraft have seatback IFE. Nobody makes a ten minute announcement before landing hawking their credit card. And, particularly important to me when i need to work in transit between SFO and SEA, Sky Clubs are now so much better than the Board Room it isn’t even in the same league.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 1:05 pm
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by zs58 View Post
Agree somewhat, but couldn't one argue that the VX acquisition is/was a pretty clear sign that AS isn't just hunkering down in ANC and SEA, and is instead looking to fill out along the west coast? I get that the VX move may have been largely defensive, etc etc, but I find it hard to totally believe that AS is just hiding in the PNW unless I imagine the VX deal never happened.

Airline mergers are messy things, so I imagine things will get worse for AS/VX before they (hopefully) get better. But I'm not sure what alternative AS had, with DL encroaching in SEA, B6 moving in elsewhere along the WC, WN expanding to HI (ok, maybe they didn't know this then but you have to imagine nobody else is sitting still), etc. So, I wish them the best.
I find the entire narrative that AS was finished if B6 had merged with VX to be quite unconvincing. If B6 had merged with VX, they would've had a very good transcon network out of SFO and LAX + west coast routes. However, those short haul routes really weren't that profitable for VX and I don't think they would've been that profitable for B6 either. Either way, I think AS would still be able to continue its expansion at SJC/SAN and have the cash to take on WN in other secondary Cali airports like BUR and SNA. B6 even with additional gate space at LAX/SFO wouldn't have been able to challenge AS on the Cali to PNW routes.

And their transcon network out of SEA/SAN would not be under attack from mint, because B6 would've been busy absorbing the transcon routes that VX did well out of SFO/LAX rather than adding more mint aircraft. But now, AS has inherited VX transcon network that's under increasing pressure from B6, because they had the money to add more mint routes and are also facing pressure on NYC/BOS-SEA/SAN.

Seeing those numbers and then imagining how they'll look when you add WN onto many of the routes has gotta make for some queasy stomachs in Seattle now.

Edit: I don't think stomachs can be "queasy;" perhaps unsettled is the right word.
Based on those numbers, their passenger count on these routes and expected decline in revenue numbers, I could easily see AS loosing $30 to $50 million a year from HA/WN moving into these secondary airport to HI routes.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 12:20 pm
  #50  
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Originally Posted by Anchorite View Post
Last fall my husband, who is AS 75K and only 50,000 miles from AS Million Miler got a status match with Delta and announced that he was going to fly Delta from now on. He noticed a significant reduction in AS customer service even before the Seattle Times article. I am also AS 75K but I'm willing to keep flying Alaska for the time being whenever I can because I like the upgrades. I hope they up their game a little after this article. The Anchorage Daily News reprinted the article on its front page today.
It sounds like some of their cost cutting measures are penny wise and pound foolish.
As for the reduction in Biscoffs, my husband complained that they don't go with a glass of wine anyway.
I'm also a 75K and I jumped ship. Last year was my last with AS. Things have been noticeably worse on the routs I used AS for (JFK/EWR -- SEA), they're bleeding partners, and, for me, the final straw was the move to JFK T7. I know that "eventually" T7 will have a Board Room and all that jazz... but it still blows my mind that AS couldn't have negotiated temporary BA Club access in the meantime. And the lack of signage a month after the move was shocking. Seriously, $500 at Kinkos could have had decent temporary signs... instead of just old BA branding and _handwritten_ Alaska signage. And the worst Alaska employees I've ever encountered.

I had already been eyeing B6 ever since I had to take a couple of Mint transcons and had amazing service (and accidentally made Mosiac)... And was intrigued that they're bringing Mint to Seattle in the next couple of months. But the loss of AF/KL and the T7 hot mess at JFK finally pushed me over the edge.

Alaska really needs to up their game, B6 is bringing Mint to Seattle. DL just announced One for the Seattle transcons. Meanwhile, AS is getting rid of the comfy VX transcon seats and blankets, and offering yoghurt/granola as the first class meal for their transcons.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:53 pm
  #51  
 
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Alaska has responded internally to the Seattle Times article referenced in this thread.

Details led at the end of this article:
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/longtime-alaska-air-exec-returns-to-lead-horizon-unit/
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Old Jan 10, 18, 9:03 pm
  #52  
 
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Originally Posted by Bretmd View Post
Alaska has responded internally to the Seattle Times article referenced in this thread.

Details led at the end of this article:
"$30 million to improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York’s JFK airport and a new lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International airport opening next year."

#1) They are spending $30 million to "improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York's JFK airport"?? Huh? I didn't think there was an Alaska Lounge at JFK although I know they have plans to build one...if I'm wrong on this one, where is the current (unimproved) Alaska Lounge located at JFK?

#2) ANOTHER lounge at SEA? Wow....where is this one going? This is lounge #4 at SEA, correct? First I've heard of this.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 9:05 pm
  #53  
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Originally Posted by Bretmd View Post
Alaska has responded internally to the Seattle Times article referenced in this thread.

Details led at the end of this article:
Bits and pieces I found interesting:

• Upgrades to onboard menus later this year.• $30 million to improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York’s JFK airport and a new lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International airport opening next year.
Improved menus will be nice.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 10:34 pm
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Sad there's no mention in that Seattle Times article about a club in SFO...
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Old Jan 11, 18, 12:08 am
  #55  
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Originally Posted by tphuang View Post
I find the entire narrative that AS was finished if B6 had merged with VX to be quite unconvincing. If B6 had merged with VX, they would've had a very good transcon network out of SFO and LAX + west coast routes. However, those short haul routes really weren't that profitable for VX and I don't think they would've been that profitable for B6 either. Either way, I think AS would still be able to continue its expansion at SJC/SAN and have the cash to take on WN in other secondary Cali airports like BUR and SNA. B6 even with additional gate space at LAX/SFO wouldn't have been able to challenge AS on the Cali to PNW routes.
VX's issue with the short haul network is that they had no small planes. B6 has small planes and could have deployed them to SFO as needed.

That's kind of what we're seeing AS fill in with some of these routes in California (SFO-SNA, SJC-SNA, SJC-BUR, SJC-SAN, SMF-SAN)
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Old Jan 11, 18, 12:44 am
  #56  
 
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Originally Posted by PDXPremier View Post
"$30 million to improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York’s JFK airport and a new lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International airport opening next year."

#1) They are spending $30 million to "improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York's JFK airport"?? Huh? I didn't think there was an Alaska Lounge at JFK although I know they have plans to build one...if I'm wrong on this one, where is the current (unimproved) Alaska Lounge located at JFK?
My guess is "strike that, reverse it":

"$30 million to improve and expand the Alaska lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International airport and a new lounge at JFK airport opening next year."

We know the new N lounge won't be open in 2018 or 2019, even based on optimistic POS timetables. I assume they're referring to the new C lounge, and possibly upgrades to the current D lounge.
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Old Jan 11, 18, 1:19 am
  #57  
 
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AS had to go in hard for VX. I get that. What they didn't have to do is botch the integration, run the VX brand into the ground as hard as they could (e.g. check their prices for F compared to a few years ago...DCA-DAL is, IIRC rather more expensive now...and compare the reports of the in-flight product), randomly add a bunch of "VX destinations" for a few months, etc. Honestly, it feels like the management at AS has been randomly mashing buttons at times with VX.

Frankly, they could have handled the merger B&O-C&O style (get the SOC but otherwise integrate slowly while maintaining a semblance of quality on the VX side of things) but instead we're getting a rerun of SP-UP (or, well, any of a half-dozen airline mergers gone haywire). Doing this right (and without overly distracting management) would probably have taken another 6-12 months and a willingness to defer gains from "synergies" (read: Cutting VX-side admin) as well as taking a bit more from the VX side of things (e.g. keeping or improving on the TCON F product rather than knocking it down)...

...and truth be told, none of this is really a shock. Ok, I expected that they'd at least keep the seats on the planes working while transitioning the color of the blankets and whatnot. I didn't expect that to go downhill. But when I saw their report on the merger, behind all the fluff it was clear that they didn't "get" VX, didn't care about VX, and were desperately trying to paper over a complete lack of overlapping customer basis ("leisure enthusiasts" my ASCII...I'll pay a decent premium for a solid F/J product...$1200 O/W for something approaching a lie-flat seat is probably my upper limit, and then with a bias towards cases where I'm either getting a good pile of RDM due to either fare-based award earning a la VX or strong class-of-service bonuses...but that sort of analysis puts me squarely on DL or B6 since I can get a lie-flat option on the "main leg" WAS-LAX for somewhere in the $700s on DL or in the $600s on B6 whereas I'll presently pay $1400 for a broken parody of the same on VX or $450 for a weak F option on AS).
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Old Jan 11, 18, 2:16 am
  #58  
 
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Originally Posted by Erik Jacobsen View Post
but it still blows my mind that AS couldn't have negotiated temporary BA Club access in the meantime. .
I spent a lot of time in that BA lounge a few years ago when CX was still in T7. It was pretty crowded during the peak BA departure window. Doubt BA would want to add more people to the lounge.

Regardless, T7 is an awful terminal. In fact that whole airport sucks.

As for management’s response to upgrade amenities for passengers: I sure haven’t seen them. Bins on the 737-700s, 800s and 900s (non ERs) are still regular 737NG bins, and on the ETOPS 800s, that extra raft is STILL above row 4. A free bag with the credit card? That’s being touted as an amenity? Shows how out of touch management is. They’re still ignoring the lounge in Portland. The BR management at Angle Lake had to personally call several hundred people in San Francisco to apologize about the AA lounge.

Last edited by tusphotog; Jan 11, 18 at 2:23 am
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Old Jan 11, 18, 8:10 am
  #59  
 
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Originally Posted by PDXPremier View Post
"$30 million to improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York’s JFK airport and a new lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International airport opening next year."

#1) They are spending $30 million to "improve and expand the Alaska lounge in New York's JFK airport"?? Huh? I didn't think there was an Alaska Lounge at JFK although I know they have plans to build one...if I'm wrong on this one, where is the current (unimproved) Alaska Lounge located at JFK?

#2) ANOTHER lounge at SEA? Wow....where is this one going? This is lounge #4 at SEA, correct? First I've heard of this.
They could've saved some of that $30 million and not moved to the bargain basement T7 at JFK which seemed to have driven away quite a few ff already. Do they really think a lounge is going to cover up their entirely uncompetitive F product on JFK-SFO/LAX?

And all they could list for improvement are this?
• An $11 million investment last year to provide free movies, TV and texting on flights.
• A $100 million investment in new seats with power outlets and larger overhead bins.
• $25 million to install satellite Wi-Fi on all its mainline jets by 2020.
Are all items that B6 have already done years ago. And also investments that DL already done and other legacies are doing also.

• Additional legroom in its Premium Class and First Class seats.
And this just means less legroom for Y class
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Old Jan 11, 18, 10:37 am
  #60  
 
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Another lounge at SEA when the PDX lounge is still a turd. Sheesh.
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