Frequent Virgin America fliers already had it pretty good. Service, style, that pop-mashup earworm of a safety video. So the news late last year that the airline had been acquired by Alaska Airlines may have left loyalists wondering what more Virgin’s new parent company could possibly offer.
As if to answer that question, Alaska—which already had great food, thanks to a partnership with three-time James Beard award-winning chef Tom Douglas—has kicked off 2017 with a new fleet of innovative in-flight amenities, many of them free. Since last month, passengers on Gogo-equipped flights have been enjoying complimentary use of iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger on their devices, letting them say “’Sup” from 35,000 feet without spending a cent.
Through March, you’ll also find Alaska’s entire catalog of streaming movies and TV shows available for free viewing on your device. This month’s film fare includes Oscar winners The Revenant and Birdman, and 2017 nominee Trolls. Television offerings range from Scandal to The Big Bang Theory and the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.
Speaking of culinary matters: Appropriate for an airline headquartered in the Pacific Northwest—Alaska’s HQ is actually in Seattle—the in-flight food and drink are getting an upgrade. Beverages are going more artisanal, with Woodford Reserve bourbon available, and local, featuring Seattle’s Fremont Interurban IPA craft beer and chardonnay from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington State’s oldest winery, which sources grapes from the Yakima and Columbia valleys, and pinot noir from Erath, another top producer in the area. (Ste. Michelle was recently named U.S. wine producer of 2016 by the International Wine & Spirits Competition, and Wine & Spirits magazine listed it among its top 100 wineries—for the 22nd time.)
The rollout of Alaska’s new month-old premium class is well underway, too, with 40 percent of the fleet already sporting seats boasting four additional inches of legroom and power outlets throughout the cabin. Booking premium also gets you early boarding, free snacks and alcoholic beverages—including those new potent potables mentioned above. By year’s end, 90 percent of planes will have received the new premium ‘do. Best of all: It’ll only cost you $15 to $79 to purchase an upgrade.
Ongoing retrofits in first class, meanwhile, are expanding legroom from 36 to 41 or 42 inches, giving Alaska some of the most spacious up-front cabins of any domestic airline.
And coming soon: The airline’s new larger overhead bins will have room for 48 percent more luggage — great news for those of us who never check bags. (And, really, who ever checks a bag? #amateurs) http://www.cntraveler.com/