The glamour days of plane travel may be long gone, but some airlines are putting a focus back on comfort. Alaska Airlines, which became the nation’s fifth-largest carrier after buying out Virgin America, is now unveiling a brand new look with special attention to how passengers experience flying from their seats.
The relaunch comes as several of the biggest airlines are also investing millions in their cabins, reports CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave.
Van Cleave took a flight with dozens of Alaska’s frequent fliers. The company is hoping to impress them with its fresh new cabin. The airline will invest tens of millions to address a huge challenge: melding Virgin America’s trendy vibe with the more traditional Alaska in a way that makes both sets of loyal customers happy.
“We just needed to evolve, evolve to something that’s a little more stylish, a little more modern,” said Alaska Airlines president Ben Minicucci. “We needed to have something that really resonated with passengers.”
The Virgin fleet is getting a fresh look outside, but to go from the old interior to the new one, it takes 45 people 18 days. Two years of work went into picking the right welcoming cabin colors. The mood lighting Virgin is known for gets a new blue hue, designed to calm and complement flyers’ circadian rhythm and cut down on jet lag.
They also upped the number of seats in first class and installed thinner seats that allow more seats in economy while keeping legroom about the same, meaning only first-class passengers lost space.
“We want to make sure people flying in the main cabin feel good about their experience,” Minicucci said.
“This is really a make or break move for Alaska it’s critical for their future success,” said airline analyst Henry Harteveldt.
“I’m a whisky man … This new cup holder is going to hold my whisky secure and it’s going to be great,” Thomas said. “No spilling.”
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