Category Archives: Alaska Airlines

With help from Santa and his elves, Alaska Airlines’ Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need

From the Alaska AIrlines blog:

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Every December, an annual Fantasy Flight on Alaska Airlines arrives at the “North Pole” to bring smiles and Christmas cheer to about 60 children, many of whom live in shelters or transitional housing.

For most of the kids, it’s their first time on an airplane – and Flight 1225 (as in “Dec. 25”) is the opening act in an exciting day that culminates in an elaborately detailed party in a space that’s been transformed into a wonderland of winter treats.

For kids who don’t have much, the special treatment provides a momentary lift this time of year – and memories to last a lifetime.

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needWhile happy spirits dominate the evening, there are many poignant reminders of the difficulty each child faces. Last year, after visiting a booth to select pajamas, one girl put on her purple PJs as fast as she could, near tears, because she’d never owned pajamas before.

Since 2008, Alaska Airlines has sponsored the Fantasy Flight in Spokane, Washington, and many Alaska and Horizon employees volunteer as the “elves” who make the magic happen.

Nonstop to the North Pole

The day starts at Spokane International Airport, where each child is given a “passport” to the North Pole and a personal “elf” that takes each child under their wing.

Volunteers are required to dress in their best elf-wear and develop their individual elf history to help the kids believe their North Pole adventure is real. The flight crew usually dons Santa hats or antlers. The annual event is organized by nonprofit Northwest North Pole Adventures, and numerous companies donate jet fuel, food, toys and other items.

After passing through airport security, the children are presented with backpacks filled with school supplies. They’re greeted at the Alaska boarding area with festive music and food.

Just before it’s time to board the plane, the elves begin shouting, “We’re going home! We’re going home!” The children and elves board an Alaska jet given the call sign Santa 1, and the plane departs into the sky above Spokane.

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needHalfway through the 40-minute flight, the children are instructed to close their window shades and recite a magical chant that would allow them to enter Santa’s airspace. Minutes later, they arrive at the “North Pole” – in reality, a spruced-up hangar at the end of the Spokane airfield. It has been transformed into a glittering fantasyland of Christmas fun with decorations, games, jugglers, magicians, face painters, a Polar Express train set, and fancy sugar cookies and other sweets.

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive, and each child gets to visit Santa and receive a gift they previously requested in a wish letter.

Memories for a lifetime

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needOne year, a boy named Charlie had his head buried in his new backpack as he pulled out each item. He inspected every pen and pencil and carefully passed them to his elf. He pulled out a pair of socks, looked at them and said, “I’m going to give those to my mom.”

As the night winds down, the children gather around to hear Mrs. Claus read “The Polar Express,” the beloved story about a magical train that takes a group of children on a journey to the North Pole to meet Santa.

But first, each child gets a few more presents – a blanket, pillow and copy of the book.

“I’ve never had my own blanket before,” one little girl told her elf.

After leaning her pillow against her elf, she snuggled up for story time.

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.

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Alaska Airlines to put limits on “smart bags” starting on January 15, 2018

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Alaska Airlines has made this announcement on their Alaska Airlines blog:

Alaska Airlines will put limits on “smart bags” starting early next year.

As of January 15, 2018 any bag powered with a lithium battery or lithium battery power bank will need to follow these requirements:

  • Smart bags will be allowed as carry-on baggage, if they meet carry-on size limits and if it’s possible to remove the battery from the bag if needed.
  • If the bag will fly as a checked bag, the battery must be removed and the battery must be carried in the cabin.
  • If it’s not possible to remove the battery from the bag, the bag won’t be allowed on the plane.

This policy follows the FAA’s general rules (PDF) regarding lithium ion batteries and also the growing concern by our industry around these batteries in our cargo areas.

“At Alaska, we are unwavering in our commitment to guest safety,” said Mike Tobin, Alaska’s manager of dangerous goods. “We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel. While these restrictions may pose a challenge to some of our guests, there have been no incidents to date with smart bags on airplanes and we want to keep it that way. As this technology continues to evolve, we will work with the industry and our partner airlines to evaluate all safety policies and provide clear guidance regarding the safe use of smart bags.”

Likely to be a popular gift this holiday season, these bags offer a variety of features, including GPS tracking, electronic locks and the ability to charge other electronic devices.

While rich with features, these bags are powered by lithium batteries creating concern for guest safety across the airline industry.

This week, the International Civil Aviation Organization determined that “baggage equipped with a lithium battery” should have restrictions limiting their allowance in an airplane cargo hold. This guidance has been issued due to the inconsistent nature of lithium batteries and the potential threat they pose when placed in a cargo hold.

Photo: Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines to fly the only nonstop flight from Seattle/Tacoma to Pittsburgh

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990 ER WL N265AK (msn 62682) (Honoring Those Who Serve) BWI (Brian McDonough). Image: 937282.

Alaska Airlines on November 15, 2017 announced it will add nonstop, daily service between Seattle/Tacoma and Pittsburgh next fall. This new service is currently the only nonstop flight offered from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Pittsburgh International Airport. The new route provides a link from the West Coast to the thriving business community in Pittsburgh, which is continuing to grow as more technology companies look to establish a presence in the city.

Alaska Airlines to fly nonstop to Pittsburgh from Seattle

 

Summary of new service:
Start Date City pair Departs Arrives Frequency Aircraft
Sept. 6 Seattle-Pittsburgh 8:25 a.m. 4:10 p.m. Daily B737
Sept. 6 Pittsburgh-Seattle 5:20 p.m. 7:50 p.m. Daily B737
Flight times based on local time zones.

Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990 ER WL N265AK (msn 62682) (Honoring Those Who Serve) BWI (Brian McDonough). Image: 937282.

Alaska Airlines will discontinue flying to Havana, Cuba

Alaska Airlines has announced it will end a daily flight between Los Angeles and Havana, Cuba. The last flight is planned for January 22, 2018. The airline will redeploy aircraft used to serve Havana to markets with higher demand.

Alaska Airlines will discontinue flying to Havana, Cuba

 

About 80 percent of Alaska’s flyers to Havana visited under a U.S. allowance for individual “people-to-people” educational travel. Changes to U.S. policy last week eliminated that allowance. Given the changes in Cuba travel policies, the airline will redeploy these resources to other markets the airline serves where demand continues to be strong.

Alaska started the Los Angeles-Havana flight on January 5, 2017.

Alaska has launched 44 routes this year, which continue to develop according to forecasts. The company anticipates it will grow about 7.2 percent this year. As the airline looks ahead to 2018, its planning for nearly 8 percent network growth by adding capacity in primarily existing markets. Redeploying aircraft and crews will help the airline support the growth.

Alaska guests who have travel booked to Havana after Jan. 22 will be rebooked on another airline at no additional cost or offered a full refund.

Photo: Alaska Airlines.

CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companies

From the Alaska Airlines Blog:

Two aviation geeks met up last week to fly an old plane.

That usually wouldn’t be noteworthy, except the pilots just happened to be Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden (left) and Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley (right).

brad tilden 1 CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companiesAnd this exact aircraft – a 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, tail number NC251M – has historical ties to both airlines.

Nearly 90 years ago, this was the first aircraft in Hawaiian’s fleet. A few years after that, the plane was brought to state of Alaska and served in the fleet that would become Alaska Airlines.

It’s a special connection between two pioneering airlines named for states that are uniquely reliant on air travel. And it made for a fun flight for a couple of guys who are crazy about airplanes.

“This was the first airplane that Hawaiian carried customers in, and one of the first airplanes that Alaska carried customers in,” Tilden said. “I could not have been more honored to fly the airplane alongside Mark.”

From the Islands to the Arctic

bellanca inter islands CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companies

Tilden and Dunkerley are both general aviation pilots. Tilden was visiting Honolulu to celebrate Alaska Airlines’ 10 years of service to Hawaii, and Dunkerley invited him to take a spin.

bt 5 CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companies“It’s amazing that this machine is still airworthy 88 years later,” Tilden said. “It’s also surprising to me that there are pictures of it in both our livery and Hawaiian’s with the same FAA registration number that it has today – NC251M.”

Retired Captain Rick Rogers, an archivist at Hawaiian Airlines, knows the plane’s history better than anyone. He’s collected documents over the years that tell the plane’s story.

Back in 1929, the Bellanca was the first aircraft owned by Inter-Island Airways, the company that would become Hawaiian Airlines. The Bellanca was used for Honolulu sightseeing tours to help promote air travel, carrying more than 12,000 people at a cost of $3 per person.

The plane was never used for inter-island travel, and was eventually sold.

Wearing the Alaska livery

bellanca 251 CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companies

By 1935, the plane was shipped to the state of Alaska, where it began flying for McGee Airways and Star Air Lines, two of the airlines that eventually became Alaska Airlines.

bellanca nc251cm 2 CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companies

At the time, Alaska Airlines was known for delivering people and supplies to remote villages and camps. The landing gear was interchangeable – wheels, skids or floats – depending on whether the “runway” was dirt, snow or water.

An Alaska Airlines log book from 1946 gives this description: “Typical bush airplane. Carries very large payload and is well adapted to freighting. Can operate out almost any field which has more than 1,200 feet or more runway clear of obstacles and with no more than 50-foot obstruction at either end. Passenger accommodations are out of date but adequate for bush operation. An excellent charter plane for hunting, fishing, and mining parties.”

Alaska Airlines eventually sold the plane in 1949.

A restoration, and a return

restored bellanca CEOs of Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines fly 1929 plane that has historical ties to both companies

Fast forward to 2009, and Hawaiian Airlines re-acquired the Bellanca (which had been grounded since 2000) from an aviation enthusiast in Oregon. Hawaiian initiated an ambitious restoration project at Port Townsend Aero Museum in Washington state to return the plane to flying condition for the company’s 80th anniversary. Support for the restoration was provided by many volunteers both from within and outside the company.

The airplane now holds the distinction of being one of only two remaining Bellanca Pacemakers in the world that still fly.

As Dunkerley often says, “We don’t just celebrate history – we fly it.”

Information from Hawaiian Airlines archives included in this story. 

Alaska Airlines starts nonstop service between San Diego and Mexico City

Alaska SkyWest (SkyWest Airlines) Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N186SY (msn 17000606) ONT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 938865.

Alaska Airlines on November 6, 2017 began nonstop service between San Diego and Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport. San Diego is the third West Coast city to see nonstop service to Mexico’s largest metropolitan city with Los Angeles and San Francisco added in August 2017. With more than 100 flights a week to Mexico from California, Alaska Airlines offers California flyers more flight options to Mexico than any other U.S. carrier.

Alaska Airlines now has four nonstop flights from California to the City of Palaces.

 

The year-round, nonstop service marks the ninth destination Alaska serves to Mexico. Other destinations with service from California include Cancun, Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo, Loreto, Los Cabos, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. Alaska began flying to Mexico in 1988.

Flight Schedule:

Start
Date
City Pair Departure Arrival Aircraft Frequency
Nov 6 San Diego-Mexico City 7:05 a.m. 12:50 p.m. E-175 Daily
Mexico City-San Diego 7:25 p.m. 9:37 p.m. E-175 Daily

The Mexico City flights will utilize Embraer 175 aircraft operated by SkyWest Airlines.

Copyright Photo: Alaska SkyWest (SkyWest Airlines) Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N186SY (msn 17000606) ONT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 938865.

Horizon Air to discontinue operations in Alaska in March

Alaska Horizon (Horizon Air) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) N443QX (msn 4353) (UAA Seawolves - University of Alaska Anchorage) ANC (Ken Petersen). Image: 928190.

Horizon Air (Alaska Horizon) has announced it will end its operations in Alaska on March 10, 2017. The company operates three Q400s in support of Alaska Airlines in Alaska. Crews will be offered positions in the Lower 48.

Copyright Photo: Alaska Horizon (Horizon Air) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) N443QX (msn 4353) (UAA Seawolves – University of Alaska Anchorage) ANC (Ken Petersen). Image: 928190.