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Condé Nast: The 'New' Alaska Airlines Looks a Lot Like Virgin America

Condé Nast: The 'New' Alaska Airlines Looks a Lot Like Virgin America

Old Jan 23, 18, 7:21 pm
  #1  
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Condé Nast: The 'New' Alaska Airlines Looks a Lot Like Virgin America

Saw AS share this on their Facebook page today. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/the...virgin-america
All the disgruntled AS flyers lately should realize we do, and will continue to have it pretty good.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 11:04 am
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This line made me cringe:

"So what happens when the cool kid of the skies hooks up with the straight-A student? You get a straight-A student who's now dressing a little more punk rock and cracking open a beer in the parking lot"

Anyway, it's nice to see AS make improvements but if the airline can't get me from Portland to various mid-sized cities I need to get to for business (Providence, Hartford, Tulsa, etc.), it doesn't really matter.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 11:23 am
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This PR piece is the cringe equivalent of Steve Buscemi's "How do you do fellow kids?"

No seatback TV or entertainment, no curated entertainment (I'm gonna miss the VX music playlists so much), no on-demand ordering, lousy catering, tighter seats, no bottles of water for grabs in the galley, no pillows/blankets in F, entertainment boxes that eat legroom, no orchids, no massaging leather seats in F, no live TV, etc.

The 'new' Alaska is pretty much the old Alaska just with some mood lighting (unless you're on the 737-800, in which case it's just the old Alaska.) And Alaska is a decent airline- don't get me wrong- but to say it's anywhere close to par with Virgin America or JetBlue is such a stretch about all you can say to hit your minimum word count is a barrel of cringey PR spins.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by bkojote View Post
no orchids
No orchids* is definitely a reason not to fly an airline. How dare they.

*My SFO-OGG-SFO flights on VX didn't have orchids. My Hawaii flights on AS do, however, have orchids on the trays and in the lavs.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by tusphotog View Post
No orchids* is definitely a reason not to fly an airline. How dare they.

*My SFO-OGG-SFO flights on VX didn't have orchids. My Hawaii flights on AS do, however, have orchids on the trays and in the lavs.
The charm of Virgin America was a collection of tiny details (also the compact ticket stock, the checkin kiosk design, the airplane salt shakers, the carefully designed BoB packaging) that distinguished them. The answer could easily be 'who cares, that's just style over substance' and I think that sums up how incompatible the Alaska / Virgin cultures are.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 12:44 pm
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Coming from American ( status matched to 75K last year), where some of their first class seats have less pitch than Alaska's premium economy, or where some of their planes have no power, or you have a scenario where you get upgraded, go to the GA to get your new boarding pass and they yell at you and tell you to go sit back down...

Y'all have it good. Mergers can be hell, and this one has been slow, but uneventful.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by bkojote View Post
No seatback TV or entertainment, no curated entertainment (I'm gonna miss the VX music playlists so much),
I actually like not having things in the seatback that decide to turn themselves on and be bright at random. I tend not to use IFE very much, and given that nearly everybody is carrying at least one wifi capable high res screen (with their complete music collection as well) at all times, it makes more sense to provide entertainment on that than to spend $$$ on something you can install in a seatback that will be behind what's in people's carry-on before you even install the first unit.

AS does a fine job of getting people up and down the west coast and they do it without having to connect in SFO, which is even nicer. They're reasonably priced and more comfortable and convenient than WN for my travel patterns.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 2:25 pm
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Originally Posted by chrisl137 View Post
I actually like not having things in the seatback that decide to turn themselves on and be bright at random. I tend not to use IFE very much, and given that nearly everybody is carrying at least one wifi capable high res screen (with their complete music collection as well) at all times, it makes more sense to provide entertainment on that than to spend $$$ on something you can install in a seatback that will be behind what's in people's carry-on before you even install the first unit.
Additionally, these systems and screens need to be updated with the changing technology, and that is something that happens quite often. New phones/TVs come out now with better screen resolution, battery etc every 6 months, how do you keep up with that tech growth on airplanes, otherwise the technology becomes old and obsolete. The way all technology is going is cloud based, so only having to change software, i.e movie selection/streaming, and allowing the consumer to select their method of using that software is really the smarter way to go forward.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by safari ari View Post
Additionally, these systems and screens need to be updated with the changing technology, and that is something that happens quite often. New phones/TVs come out now with better screen resolution, battery etc every 6 months, how do you keep up with that tech growth on airplanes, otherwise the technology becomes old and obsolete. The way all technology is going is cloud based, so only having to change software, i.e movie selection/streaming, and allowing the consumer to select their method of using that software is really the smarter way to go forward.
Virgin America managed this just fine and in practice delivers the better experience - their onboard RED system is leagues more responsive and usable than Alaska's awful Microsoft tablets or janky Gogo player. It doesn't require hogging a power socket, taking up limited table space, monopolizing your device's screen, or getting collected 40 minutes prior to landing. Virgin has managed to refresh their RED software more than Gogo has refreshed their iOS player (which is now 2 years out of date and doesn't support PiP or split screen, and still loses position half the time you exit the app.)

Virgin also smartly used it as a value ad for inflight services- I recall hearing in the early days the average BoB tab was something like $25 on a transcon flight, not to mention being able to order on demand was awesome.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 3:44 pm
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I wont miss those armrest cut outs for the remote and the safety video
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Old Jan 24, 18, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by bkojote View Post
Virgin America managed this just fine and in practice delivers the better experience - their onboard RED system is leagues more responsive and usable than Alaska's awful Microsoft tablets or janky Gogo player. It doesn't require hogging a power socket, taking up limited table space, monopolizing your device's screen, or getting collected 40 minutes prior to landing. Virgin has managed to refresh their RED software more than Gogo has refreshed their iOS player (which is now 2 years out of date and doesn't support PiP or split screen, and still loses position half the time you exit the app.)

Virgin also smartly used it as a value ad for inflight services- I recall hearing in the early days the average BoB tab was something like $25 on a transcon flight, not to mention being able to order on demand was awesome.
Meh, I agree and disagree, I am a big fan of RED and the BoB ability from the screen. But there have been countless issues with the RED system, I have had issues just turning on my screen at some points, or the system not letting you select certain area. Not to mention they add weight as a whole and overall I get why they are going to mobile route, like AA and some other airlines. But we all know the issues with GOGO and their services, and why it took them so long to update their first to market product. Now if AS could integrate all of this technology, which I know is asking a lot, into your mobile device that would be a real game changer/winner. If GOGO could keep their product updated, then the software component wouldn't be the issue and just the hardware would be, and like I mentioned, replacing screens and the like on RED is a much bigger overhaul than a person getting a new phone/tablet with better resolution than the screens anyways. And a major complaint is the remote wells in the armrest.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 6:52 pm
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I've had RED crap out on me a few times, which isn't fun on a 5+ hour flight. Even once in F, my seat didn't fully work (nor did the screen); my last flight RED shut down twice for some strange reason. Previous flight I had ordered 2 items & never got them.

Friend that used to work in VX HDQ said that RED has always had hiccups. Even on AA there's been some issues with seatback IFE.

But, bkojote, you forget to mention that VX also charged for each and every movie, unless in F/MCS. My first trip on VX, I was missing my Alaska digeplayer as I forked out $16 to keep me occupied. At least with the dige (which, I'll admit I've always gotten free), you get to watch everything for free, and can add a splitter to share audio with a seatmate. And then I spent another $25 in food/beverages on legacy VX. And speaking of food, Alaska at least has a hot option on most flights over 3 hours - Virgin's Y galley doesn't even have an oven. Also, FA's tend to suspend ordering anything 60-80 minutes before landing. Alaska typically will have another beverage service about an hour before landing on 4+ hour flights.

The F seat, as you mentioned, is amazing. But you know what's better? Knowing we have a better F seat than AA/DL/UA in a 737 - and the new seats will have foot rests and a bit more recline. The addition of premium cabin on the A320 fleet will be nice.

alaska used to have the small water bottles in Y; hopefully they come back.

So while the article is full of a lot of koolaid, we don't know the new combined First Class soft product yet. We should be finding out soon, as April 25th is quickly approaching.

VX was a great product 7 years ago. Problem is, many airlines have now adopted VX items or leaped them. Can you imagine where you'd be if JetBlue got Virgin? They don't have lounges or even First Class on all their planes!
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Old Jan 24, 18, 8:14 pm
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$16.00 is about what Alaska charged for the DigEPlayer, and on legacy VX I found the entertainment selection to be sever cuts above what's on most IFE's (a lot of HBO content and hit shows vs. the bargain bin stuff. And it's not like Alaska's DigEPlayers are particularly reliable either (though to be fair they can get swapped out).

And while Alaska technically had hot options I have found the quality to be pretty abysmal across the board (last to were uninspired mushed sandwiches served in grease stained bags), whereas Virgin's has been stellar (especially the tapas plates) and plated extraordinarily well for an economy meal. In fact I'd say just about every Y meal I've had on VX has easily surpassed every F meal I've had on Alaska.

There were a number of things I didn't like about VX, and again, I like Alaska for their own reasons (generous frequent flier program, excellent customer service, still better than the legacies in a lot of respects), but man they just do not understand the VX flier.

(And for what it's worth, I'd imagine JetBlue would have likely kept a lot more VX features, but even if they didn't we'd be getting a leagues better transcon first class at way lower prices, free WiFi, and east-coast terminals that aren't dumpster fires.)
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Old Jan 24, 18, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by bkojote View Post
$16.00 is about what Alaska charged for the DigEPlayer, and on legacy VX I found the entertainment selection to be sever cuts above what's on most IFE's (a lot of HBO content and hit shows vs. the bargain bin stuff. And it's not like Alaska's DigEPlayers are particularly reliable either (though to be fair they can get swapped out).

And while Alaska technically had hot options I have found the quality to be pretty abysmal across the board (last to were uninspired mushed sandwiches served in grease stained bags), whereas Virgin's has been stellar (especially the tapas plates) and plated extraordinarily well for an economy meal. In fact I'd say just about every Y meal I've had on VX has easily surpassed every F meal I've had on Alaska.
Can't say that I agree, in that the few times I had the fresh BOB options on VX, I found the portions to be minuscule and overpriced. Quality was good, though. I have had many very good meals in AS F, but I am also going back about 25 years in my flying experience. The recent cost cuts not withstanding, AS is certainly very capable of providing an excellent meal service in F.

As for BOB, the hot meals on AS have usually been fine by my taste and the price more reasonable. I never got a sandwich except for the cheeseburger, but the "bowl" style entrees I've had have all been pretty good and I think it is a step above what most legacies carriers offer (save for DL, which has free meals on some routes). I haven't shelled out $10 for a digeplayer in years, but when I had the tablet in F, I thought the selection was decent, especially when combined with all the free movies available through GoGo. It is certainly better than the IFE offered on WN, since they charge for movies, and the selection seemed a bit better than AA and UA. I would agree that VX, B6 and DL have an edge in this regard, however.

I definitely agree its a shame AS won't at least keep a subfleet of planes with the VX product. They could just update the F product to lie flat and and then keep the existing Y product. But, for the time being, AS evidently has chosen not to compete in the premium transcon market.

Last edited by sltlyamusd; Jan 24, 18 at 8:33 pm
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Old Jan 24, 18, 8:31 pm
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Alaska is in the process of upgrading their First Class catering and meal options, to a hybrid VX/AS style, so I’m excited to see what they come up with. And the JFK Alaska lounge is going to be wonderful, despite being in the worst terminal at JFK. Also, the new uniforms are a great refresher for the brand. After 10 years of VX, I am very excited to see what the final AS product will look like. No one will be VX, but the tweaks to the AS product coming up are looking very good.
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