January 11, 2018, Alaska Airlines became the official owner of the one of the most beloved American airline companies since maybe the "HEY DAYS" of Pan Am.
April 24 2018 will be the last day you'll be able to book a Virgin America flight, beginning 4/25/18, all flights become Alaska.
The sad news is we who loved to fly Virgin and those that loved to work for Virgin are watching their trendy, world class brand and culture be absorbed and dismantled by Alaska. Alaska Airlines had a brilliant opportunity to not only own the hottest domestic brand in American Aviation; but to glean all the standards that made Virgin #1 American Airline 8 years in a row!
Instead, in an ignorant, sloppy, ego driven move, they've not only dismantled the standards, they've erased the culture...not from our hearts, but from their service.
Imagine working for Nordstrom and having Walmart buy them, then convert all things first class to working class. Theirs a place for both to co-exist, but not assimilate.
When Virgin announced it was being bought by Alaska two years ago, passengers on planes and guests in airports literally were crying and expressing deep emotional distraught over the news playing on the airport T.V.'s. Name me a company that has that level of brand loyalty...tears over their closing. Amazing.
Virgin built their brand with extreme attention to detail, fun and putting the guests needs first. The employees were tasked with being "caught creating Wow!" in the airports, planes and over the phone. They had standards that created envy in the industry and ground-breaking-loyalty with their clientele.
The call sign for Virgin with the tower was "Redwood"; listen to this recording where even the tower says how much they'll miss Virgin on the last day and last flight (01/11/2018) to use the call sign "Redwood". From now on call-sign is "Alaska". I doubt many tower employees ever shared such a sentiment in the past with an airline:
Virgin America has been a part of my life in two ways: first I became an Elevate flyer soon after they opened their hub in San Diego. I used to fly twice per month to San Francisco to visit my son back in those days. Second, when setting goals back in 2009, my bride decided to change careers and pursue her dream job; flight attendant. She went after it with focus and daily dedication until she'd landed the opportunity, passed the grueling interview/training process and then advanced through the ranks from the Gate& Counter to In-flight team to In-flight Team Leader. It breaks her heart to see this brand be swept under the tired old Alaska carpet. (I know it sounds sour grapes but take-over promises were broken, enough said). I'm proud of my bride, she works hard for Virgin and exemplifies the brand and serving with WOW! She's truly a Virgin Fly Girl and I'm a lucky man to be her husband!
Don't ever take for granted the brand you create. Honor your brand, by growing it through the delivery of excellence to your database, your community and your reputation. Never take for granted what you and your family, team/your employees and your mentors have helped you accomplish.
Alaska is making one of the biggest blunders in business history; they think this about routes and expansion-they forgot about the people. There are companies like Virgin that teach what to do and companies like Alaska that become the cautionary tale.
All photos from Virgin America Facebook & Ailina Nelson
(Top Left) Ailina performing at the Rosie The Rivitor Celebration (Top Right) Ailina meeting Richard Branson for the first of two times.
(Bottom Left) Ailina from the cockpit (Below) Ailina & Thomas from the cockpit in New York
Thank You Virgin America & Farewell