Update: It's sad but true, as of yesterday, Virgin America is officially a thing of the past. As of yesterday, January 11, Virgin has merged with Alaska Airlines, and both will operate under the Alaska name. What does that mean for travelers?
According to Alaska Arline's website, on January 1, Virgin America's loyalty program, Elevate, officially changed to become Alaska's program, Mileage Plans. From now until the end of the month, Elevate points can be converted. If you don't self-convert, it will be done automatically by February 8.
Forbes reported another change that's important for customers to know. On April 25, you will no longer be able to book flights through Virgin America's website and must instead book on Alaska Arline's site. If you're a frequent flyer of either of these airlines, especially the now retired Virgin America, be sure to mark your calendar with these important dates.
Original story follows.
It's a sad day for every Virgin America fan out there.
On Tuesday night, it was announced that the brand won't survive its merger with Alaska Airlines. The name "Virgin America" will be retired in 2019 and all flights will be consolidated under the Alaska Airlines brand.
"Our goal from the very beginning of this merger was to become the go-to airline for people on the West Coast, with low fares, convenient flights, a premium product and genuine, caring service," Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group, said in a statement. "Three months in, we've dramatically grown our presence in California and are united behind a new purpose: Creating an airline people love."
Alaska Airlines promises to keep the features that have made travelers gravitate towards Virgin America.
"The combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music, and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests," read the press release announcing the decision. "The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe."
The news was especially sad for Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group.
"George Harrison once said, 'All Things Must Pass.' This was the ride and love of a lifetime. I feel very lucky to have been on it with all of you," he wrote in a statement. "I'm told some people at Virgin America are calling today 'the day the music died.' It is a sad (and some would say baffling) day. But I'd like to assure them that the music never dies."
As expected, people on social media were also really heartbroken about the decision.
Some users criticized the decision to retire Virgin America, given that it's so beloved by customers.
But others held hope that Alaska Airlines will follow through in their word to keep the things that made Virgin America unique.