Yes, Alaska paid a fortune for Virgin America. But that doesn't mean it is a bad deal. Alaska believes it needs Virgin America's assets to compete and grow.
Alaska Airlines continues to play it coy when asked about its plans for the Virgin America brand. But it seems likely Alaska will retire most, if not all, aspects of the upstart's brand.
Sometimes generosity and taking care of your most loyal customers gives a halo that is not immediately visible, but can have long-term benefits and end up saving your skin.
Airlines aren't in the business of giving stuff away for free any more, so expect more airlines to consider seat auctions or other ways to monetize items they used to give away to loyal flyers.
For most travelers, this is not a big deal. In many markets, airlines are discounting last-minute tickets so much that passengers don't need bereavement fares to find a reasonable price.
The points' match from JetBlue shows the extent to which the airline will go to compete with Virgin America, its soon-to-be-stronger adversary.
Alaska Airlines understands Virgin America's core customers are loyal, and it does not want to lose them. But is keeping the Virgin America brand the right move? Operating two brands at once would not be easy.
JetBlue doesn't use influencers to promote its brand except in scattered countries where the airline isn't well-known. Who needs influencers when word-of-mouth and your own passengers spread the good vibes?
Targeted bidding on flight upgrades is a smart way for airlines to engage customers and offer value without inundating flyers with additional fees and packages. But it also adds a level of uncertainty that travelers may find off-putting.
Airlines' practice of matching or occasionally not matching competitors' fares is a contact sport. Virgin America's David Cush thinks carriers would be better-served competition on product where practical. It would be an uphill fight.