With the arrival of a single AOC a couple of weeks back, Alaska is now the airline and Virgin America a fast vanishing brand. The operational side will take a little more time to cross over to the all-Alaska format, but the websites, apps and branding at airports will be finished first, in fact by the end of April.
However its seems that Alaska is very aware that it needs to keep Virgin America customers as they were, happy, and not let 10 years of hard-fought brand engineering go entirely to waste. They have to up their game and encourage those who might flee to other airlines if only in mild disgust, to stay and try something new if not better.
All of the 737’s will get blue mood lighting, new “West Coast” music as you board. The old Virgin aircraft will get new carpets, new seats and the blue mood lights. The new Premium Class will be rolled out, and a full high-speed wi-fi system installed on all aircraft from March this year. Alaska also promises better snacks, beer and wine than Alaska, but not necessarily Virgin customers have been used to.
The roll out is going to take two years – mid 2020 before everything is standardized across the fleet. Will it be enough to retain Virgin customers interest? I suspect it will, because they loved their airline, and when you’re faced with the flying prison of an American 738Max or the cramped quarters of a less than generous United A320 that’s nearly 30 years old, you’ll be glad that someone somewhere is offering something a little bit more to your liking.