Category Archives: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines adds two new routes from Southern California

Alaska Airlines announced today two new routes from its key hubs in Southern California that will begin flying this spring. The airline will launch daily, nonstop service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Austin on March 18, with an increase to three daily departures on May 20. Daily, nonstop service between San Diego and New York JFK starts on April 4.

(PRNewsfoto/Alaska Airlines)

 

New Routes

Start Date City Pair Frequency Aircraft
  March 18, 2021 Los Angeles – Austin Daily E175
May 20, 2021 Los Angeles – Austin 3x Daily E175
April 4, 2021 San Diego – New York JFK Daily 737

In 2020, Alaska added 12 new routes from LAX. With the new flight to Austin, the airline will fly to more than 40 nonstop destinations from LAX this spring. Alaska already has nonstop flights to the Texas capital city from five other West Coast cities: Seattle; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose, California; and San Diego.

The new nonstop service between San Diego and New York JFK is part of Alaska’s growth to the Northeast from its West Coast hubs. This spring, the airline will also have nonstop service between San Diego and both Newark and Boston.

Alaska Airlines announces revisions to its service animal policy

Alaska Airlines made this announcement:

Following recent changes to U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rules, Alaska Airlines will no longer accept emotional support animals on its flights. Effective Jan. 11, 2021, Alaska will only transport service dogs, which are specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.

Alaska Airlines eliminates change fees permanently. (PRNewsfoto/Alaska Airlines)

Earlier this month the DOT said it will no longer require airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as is required for trained service dogs. Changes to the DOT rules came after feedback from the airline industry and disability community regarding numerous instances of emotional support animal misbehavior which caused injuries, health hazards and damage to aircraft cabins.

Under the revised policy, Alaska will accept a maximum of two service dogs per guest in the cabin, to include psychiatric service dogs. Guests will be required to complete a DOT form, which will be available on AlaskaAir.com beginning Jan. 11, attesting that their animal is a legitimate service dog, is trained and vaccinated and will behave appropriately during the journey. For reservations booked more than 48 hours prior to travel, guests must submit the completed form via email. For reservations booked less than 48 hours prior to travel, guests must submit the form in person to the Customer Service Agent upon arrival at the airport.

Alaska will continue to accept emotional support animals under its current policy for reservations booked prior to Jan. 11, 2021, for flights on or before Feb. 28, 2021. No emotional support animals will be accepted for travel after Feb, 28, 2021.

New TV series: Ice Airport Alaska

 

Ice Airport Alaska is a 6-part mini-series on the Smithsonian Channel which premiered on November 15, 2020.

Ice Airport Alaska follows operations at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska one of the world’s busiest cargo airports where staff work under harsh conditions with temperatures as low as -38 Celsius and winds over 100 mph.

Welcome to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), where subzero temperatures and arctic storms are just part of the job description. Keeping things running on the taxiways and in the terminal requires a major league team of workers, from wildlife managers to airfield maintenance crews to police and Customs and Border Protection…and they have their work cut out for them. With 65 major snow and ice events per winter, five million passengers a year, and wild creatures at every turn, the activity at Alaska’s “Ice Airport” never stops.

Video: Episode 1 – Winter is Coming

Alaska Airlines announces restructured agreement with Boeing to acquire a total of 68 737-9 MAX aircraft with options for another 52, will replace all Airbus A319s and A320s

Executives from Alaska Airlines and Boeing sign the agreement. (From left to right: Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO; Ihssane Mounir, Boeing Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing; Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines President; and Brad Tilden, Alaska Air Group CEO.)

Alaska Airlines announced today an agreement in principle with Boeing to restructure the airline’s order to receive a total of 68 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft with options for an additional 52 planes.

Alaska is scheduled to receive 13 planes in 2021; 30 in 2022; 13 in 2023; and 12 in 2024. The delivery schedule will largely replace Alaska’s Airbus fleet and moves the airline substantially toward a single, mainline fleet that’s more efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly, and that will enhance the guest experience and support the company’s growth. This restructured agreement with Boeing incorporates Alaska’s announcement last month to lease 13 737-9 aircraft.

The agreement delivers superior economics to Alaska while providing flexibility in the final delivery schedule for the airline to optimize its fleet plan as the industry recovers. It also enables two major Pacific Northwest employers – Alaska and Boeing – to continue to support and revive jobs as the region and nation recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic, fueling economic opportunity and growth in the coming decade.

Commemorative Certificate of Signing on Dec. 18 between Alaska Airlines and Boeing for 737-9 MAX order.

After significant work to manage costs and liquidity through the pandemic, support employees and jobs, and to ensure the safety of both employees and guests, Alaska’s priority is to establish strong recovery and growth in the decade ahead. Alaska also prefers to own aircraft when it makes the best financial sense for the company. This decision enables the company to exit 61 expensive, short-term leases for its Airbus fleet that were inherited by Alaska through its acquisition of Virgin America. Furthermore, compared to the Airbus A320, the 737-9 has more seats, better fuel efficiency, lower emissions and lower maintenance costs.

The agreement includes mechanisms to adjust the timing of deliveries to meet economic conditions, giving the airline substantial flexibility to manage its fleet in step with network demand. Alaska’s 52 aircraft options are for deliveries between 2023 to 2026.

TOTAL ORDERS: 68 737-9 Aircraft

Status Announcement Date Number of Aircraft
Existing Order October 2012 32
Lease Agreement November 2020 13
New Order December 2020 23

TOTAL OPTIONS: 52 737-9 Aircraft

Status Announcement Date Number of Aircraft
Existing Order October 2012 37
New Order December 2020 15

The 737-9 will replace all A319 and A320 aircraft in Alaska’s fleet to improve the airline’s overall operational, financial and environmental performance. With this plan, Alaska will reduce its Airbus fleet to 10 A321neos by the summer of 2023.

The 737-9 is 20% more fuel efficient and generates approximately 20% less carbon emissions per seat than the A320. Its larger, improved engines fly significantly quieter, and the Boeing Sky Interior lends a feeling of spaciousness to the cabin. The 737-9 can also fly up to 600 miles farther, which opens the possibility of new nonstop routes and destinations.

Alaska plans to begin revenue service with its first 737-9 in March 2021, with five additional aircraft expected to begin flying by summer 2021.

Alaska Airlines adds more ‘sun and fun’ destinations from Anchorage

Alaska Airlines continues to strengthen its presence at one of the airline’s key hubs in Anchorage with new nonstop service to three “sun and fun” destinations – Las Vegas, Denver and San Francisco – and the expansion to year-round service to a popular fourth destination, Phoenix.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Come this summer, Alaska will fly eight nonstops from Anchorage to these destinations in the Lower 48: Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Phoenix and Portland. Four of the cities on the West Coast are also Alaska hubs, which allow for improved connectivity for guests traveling to other locations.

New service to Las Vegas, Denver and San Francisco begins this summer; the Las Vegas flight will be offered year-round with seasonal flights to Denver and San Francisco. The current seasonal flight between Anchorage and Phoenix will now fly year-round.

The Anchorage-San Francisco flight – first announced in August 2019 – was scheduled to start in April 2020, but it was delayed due to the pandemic.

Start Date End Date City Pair Frequency Aircraft
 May 20, 2021 Year-round Anchorage – Las Vegas Th, F, Sa, Su 737
June 17, 2021 Aug. 16, 2021 Anchorage – Denver Daily 737
June 17, 2021 Aug. 16, 2021 Anchorage – San Francisco Daily 737
Year-round Year-round Anchorage – Phoenix Daily 737

In addition to Alaska’s continuing commitment to service at Anchorage, the airline partners with non-profit organizations throughout the state focused on helping those impacted by the pandemic. Alaska Airlines and Alaska Air Cargo are currently supporting residents across the state by transporting COVID-19 vaccines, including to some of the most remote communities in the U.S.

Alaska Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show:

Alaska Airlines introduces Hawaii Pre-Clear program

Alaska Airlines guests traveling to Hawaii can now pre-clear on the West Coast, avoiding lines and bypassing the airport screening process after they arrive in Hawaii with an approved negative COVID-19 test. Alaska’s Pre-Clear program, launched this week in coordination with the State of Hawaii, is the first of its kind to allow guests to obtain an exemption from the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine before departure.

In mid-October, Hawaii began a pre-travel testing program that allows anyone entering the state who tests negative for COVID-19 in advance to proceed without the current two-week mandatory quarantine. To help with the long wait times that travelers arriving in the Islands have experienced as part of this program, Alaska has received approval to pre-clear guests who complete the state’s requirements prior to check-in, so that no additional screening is needed after arrival at Hawaii’s airports.

“As guests start planning their 2021 travel to Hawaii, we’re focused on making the journey as safe, easy and hassle-free as possible,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines’ president, who flew to Honolulu on the first day of the pre-travel testing program to experience the arrival process first-hand. “We appreciate Hawaii’s partnership to help ensure our guests are well-informed and visit these beautiful islands responsibly, wearing a mask and following the state’s safety guidelines.”

Alaska began piloting the Hawaii Pre-Clear program over the past week with its flights from the West Coast to Maui. Starting the week of Dec. 14, the program will be rolled out on all flights to Oahu and Kona on Hawaii Island. Due to the temporary pause in Kauai’s participation in the state’s pre-travel testing program, Alaska’s flights to Kauai have been suspended and will not be included in the Hawaii Pre-Clear program at this time.

“On behalf of the State of Hawaii, we appreciate Alaska’s commitment in helping to keep our community safe,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige. “Alaska has been a true partner from the very start of the pre-travel testing program by communicating with their guests about the state’s requirements so that they are well-prepared for their visit. Alaska’s Pre-Clear program adds another layer of safety by helping to ensure that the majority, if not all, of Alaska’s guests arrive in Hawaii with proof of their negative COVID-19 test results.”

To be eligible for the Hawaii Pre-Clear program, Alaska will send guests an email prior to departure asking them to complete the following steps:

Once the above requirements are met, the guest will be pre-cleared and will receive a pre-clear wristband at check-in or at the departure gate.

This month, Alaska Airlines operates an average of 18 daily nonstop flights to Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island from Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, California; and Anchorage, Alaska.

Alaska Airlines and oneworld announce benefits for elite Mileage Plan members

Alaska Airlines has made this announcement:

With Alaska Airlines’ membership in oneworld less than four months away, both companies announced today that Alaska’s elite Mileage Plan members will receive matching oneworld tier status in the global alliance:

  • MVP Gold 75K = oneworld Emerald
  • MVP Gold = oneworld Sapphire
  • MVP = oneworld Ruby

Many of the benefits elite flyers currently enjoy on Alaska with their status will seamlessly carry over to the oneworld tiers when they travel on any of the 13 global oneworld member airlines. This means they’ll be able to take advantage of a variety of privileges, including priority check-in, access to international first and business class lounges, preferred boarding, fast track through security, baggage benefits and more.

Alaska joins oneworld on March 31, 2021. Matching oneworld tier status happens automatically at that time.

For example, beginning March 31, an Alaska MVP Gold member will receive oneworld Sapphire status right away. If that traveler then takes a trip from San Francisco to Doha on Qatar Airways, they’ll have access to business class lounges, business class priority check-in and priority boarding, regardless of the class of service they’re flying in.

Alaska will be the 14th full member of oneworld. The current 13 full members of the alliance are: American Airlines; British Airways; Cathay Pacific; Finnair; Iberia; Japan Airlines; Malaysia Airlines; Qantas; Qatar Airways; Royal Air Maroc; Royal Jordanian; S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines. Fiji Airways is a oneworld connect partner. Prior to COVID-19, the alliance’s global network offered flights to more than 1,000 destinations in more than 170 countries and territories.

Alaska Airlines aircraft photo gallery (Boeing):

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show (Boeing):

Alaska sells 10 Airbus A320s to ALC, will lease 13 new Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft (now total of 45)

Alaska Airlines announced a transaction today that continues the optimization of its mainline fleet. As part of the agreement, Alaska will sell 10 Airbus A320s to Air Lease Corporation, and subsequently lease 13 new Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft from them. The 13 737-9 MAX aircraft will be delivered from fourth quarter 2021 through 2022. Alaska will lease the A320s back from Air Lease for a short period of time after the transaction closes.

The MAX aircraft are 20 percent more fuel efficient and generate 20 percent less carbon emissions per seat than the A320s they will replace. The aircraft is also able to fly 600 miles farther than Alaska’s current A320, which opens the possibility of additional nonstop routes and new destinations.

The 13 leased aircraft are in addition to the 32 MAX Alaska currently has on order with Boeing – five of which are expected to be flying by summer 2021. Alaska will begin flying the 737-9 MAX in March 2021. 

After permanently parking all A319s and some A320s earlier this summer, this deal leaves Alaska Airlines with 39 A320s in the operating fleet along with 10 A321neos.

Alaska Airlines aircraft photo gallery (Airbus):

Alaska prepares for the Boeing 737 MAX to safely join our fleet with first passenger flights expected in March

Alaska Airlines has 32 MAX 9s on order. The airline has provided this update on the Boeing 737 MAX:

This March, Alaska Airlines is scheduled to start welcoming guests on our first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. We currently don’t have a MAX in our fleet. We expect delivery of the first plane in January, followed by several more throughout 2021.

On November 18, 2020 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the MAX, giving the approval to all airlines to begin the process of bringing the aircraft back into service. Our guests will only fly on a MAX aircraft after we’ve tested and verified all required and necessary processes to prepare the aircraft for passenger service.

We have high expectations and confidence that Boeing has made the required changes and necessary improvements to the MAX. With these enhancements and the FAA’s thorough inspection processes, this aircraft will meet the high safety standards we expect.

For us, safety is always priority number one. If an aircraft is not safe, we won’t fly it.

“As a safety professional with decades of experience, including many years with the FAA, I’ve had the opportunity to stay very close to the FAA and Boeing through the grounding and recertification of the 737 MAX,” said Max Tidwell, Alaska’s vice president of safety and security. “I’m very confident with all the steps the FAA and Boeing have taken and the steps we’re taking at Alaska to prepare us to safely bring this aircraft into our fleet.”

One of Alaska’s 737-9 MAX at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Once our first MAX is delivered, we’ll begin two months of testing and verifying all the necessary processes to prepare the aircraft for passenger service, which is scheduled to begin in March. Our teams will put the plane through its paces, which includes flying it more than 19,000 miles and over 50 flight hours all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii.

In the coming weeks, our pilots will also begin the required eight hours of flight simulator and computer-based training that focuses on the operation of the MAX. Our pilot training program for the MAX is more extensive than what’s required by the FAA. All of our maintenance technicians undergo a minimum 40 hours of training on the variations between the MAX and our existing 737 NG fleet, with certain technicians receiving additional specialized training.

Before the MAX is added to our fleet, our team of pilots, maintenance technicians and safety experts will put the plane through its paces – flying more than 19,000 miles and over 50 flight hours to test the aircraft. We will activate our training programs and make sure our employees are ready. We’ve been closely testing, verifying and implementing all the necessary processes to ensure the MAX aircraft meets our high safety standards.

At Alaska, safety is always priority number one. If an aircraft is not safe, we won’t fly it.

There is nothing more important than the safety of everyone on board every aircraft we fly.

Safety is everything   “This indicates a link to an external site that may not follow the same accessibility or privacy policies as Alaska Airlines. By selecting a partner link you agree to share your data with these sites.”

 

When we talk about safety, we mean it. Each of our employees is empowered to stop any part of our operation if something isn’t right. We call it “Ready, SAFE, Go.” Before we do anything, we take a moment to check whether everyone is ready, we make sure we’re being safe, and only then do we go.

Alaska manages safety through our Safety Management System (SMS). We were the first major U.S. airline to receive FAA validation and acceptance of our SMS in 2016, even before it became required in 2018. It helps us focus on safety – every day. Rather than rely on a separate “safety manager” or “safety department,” our SMS empowers employees at all levels to participate in it and improve the process.

Alaska will fly the Boeing 737 MAX only after our own assessments, verifications and internal reviews determine that the aircraft is safe throughout our network for our guests and our crews. Teams from divisions all across Alaska are working on the entry into service requirements for the MAX.

“As a safety professional with decades of experience, including many years with the FAA, I’ve had the opportunity to stay very close to the FAA and Boeing through the grounding and recertification of the 737 MAX. I’m very confident with all the steps the FAA and Boeing have taken and the steps we’re taking at Alaska to prepare us to safely bring this aircraft into our fleet.”

— Max Tidwell, Alaska’s Vice President of Safety & Security


We have confidence in the certification process of the 737 MAX.

Boeing has worked closely with the FAA and international regulatory authorities to make improvements to the 737 MAX flight control system and mandatory pilot training. Our teams remained in close contact with Boeing and the FAA all along the way.

We have high expectations and confidence that Boeing has made the required changes and necessary improvements to the 737 MAX and that, with these updates, the MAX will meet the high safety standards we expect.

We will put the MAX through its paces.

We will spend a lot of time with our first MAX aircraft before it’s put into service. Our pilots will fly it more than 50 flight hours and roughly 19,000 miles on what are called “proving flights” to confirm our safety assessments and ensure a full understanding of the airplane’s capabilities in different climates and terrain:

These proving flights are part of the formal delivery process of bringing a new aircraft into the fleet. The flights will be supervised directly by the FAA with representatives on board to evaluate that we can safely operate the aircraft. It will give our pilots the opportunity to:

There will also be “gate fit” tests at designated airports to ensure the readiness of ground operations with the new plane.

Testing and more testing.
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Background

The 737 MAX was designed with larger, more efficient engines. To help pilots with the handling of the aircraft, Boeing implemented new flight control software called MCAS, or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. MCAS relied on information from a single sensor to monitor the angle of the plane. In two accidents, the sensor – an ‘angle of attack’ vane – gave incorrect data to MCAS, which caused the system to activate repeatedly.

Boeing has since made key changes to prevent the previous issues from happening again:

What happens next with our MAX?

The FAA’s airworthiness directive continues the process of outlining the required software updates along with the training requirements for flight crews, maintenance technicians and ground crews that must be completed before we bring the MAX into service.

With the lifting of the grounding order by the FAA, it’s expected to take two months until we receive our first MAX from Boeing.

Once we accept delivery of the aircraft, we’ll follow a service readiness timeline that will guide the actions we must take before we begin flying our passengers. The process could take about six weeks for our first MAX to join our fleet after rigorous rounds of test flying, verifying and preparing.