Last month Virgin America flew off into the sunset, sort of. And while repainting aircraft will take a while, cross-fleeting is already taking place. But now, Alaska Air is making further fleet adjustments.
Alaska Air has been working towards merging with the former Virgin America for the past couple of years. And this past April, Alaska finally phased out the Virgin America brand. Of course, you can still see Virgin America aircraft flying around. And, in fact, I just flew my first Virgin America flight last week. That’s because retrofitting and repainting aircraft will take some time. However, Alaska Air will be shifting aircraft around later this year.
Changes to Hawaii Flights
Looking at Alaska’s flights to Hawaii later this year, they’ve changed up its entire fleet. Specifically, all Virgin America flight numbers and aircraft will no longer fly to the islands. Instead, it appears as if all Alaska Air flights, beginning this fall, will carry Alaska Air flight numbers and will be operated by Boeing 737-800s.
I had no ideas these changes were taking place until I logged into my Alaska Air account. You see, I recently booked our flights for an upcoming trip to the Bay Area this fall. And, literally, the day after I booked the flights, Alaska Air asked me to confirm changes to those flights.
As you can see, what once was Alaska flight AS 1050, which is a pre-merger Virgin America (pmVX) flight, is now AS 720. And rather than being operated by an Airbus A320, the flight will now be operated by a Boeing 737-800. Our flights back to Honolulu aren’t impacted, though, as we’re flying back via Seattle on pre-merger Alaska (pmAS) flights.
So, when our flight was AS 1050, it did not have a dedicated Premium Class cabin. Naturally, the pmVX fleet only has a few rows of Premium Class spread throughout the cabin. And, as a result, my original seat assignments were for the first row of standard economy, 7A and 7B. However, with the change in equipment to a pmAS 737, our aircraft now has a Premium Class section. As you might imagine, that means our original seats would fall into this cabin too.
I’m not going to lie, initially, I was concerned that our seat selections would have been voided out. Not that it would be that big an issue, as our flight is still relatively empty. However, it looks as if Alaska is going to let us keep our seats. Upon checking my itinerary, there are now stars next to our seat assignments indicating Premium Class, and of course, we kept our same seat numbers. So… Free upgrade to Premium Class?
Alaska Air is Making Further Fleet Adjustments, Final Thoughts
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by my “upgrade.” After all, Alaska Air has been handling such situations far better than most others. I won’t take it for granted, though, and will keep monitoring my itinerary, just in case. And while I’m happy about the change to Premium Class, I’m disappointed that I won’t have a chance to fly a VX flight again. My recent trip to Vegas was my first VX experience, and will likely be my last. But more on that later.