On the surface, Alaska Airlines seems like a company that Americans would love to hate, yet exactly the opposite is true. People love Alaska, and it’s no accident. Let me explain.
Think about everything going against the airline. First of all, it’s an airline. Hating every move an airline makes is actually required in the US in order to graduate from high school. If, however, you build a brand as a low fare airline that eschews fees like Southwest, then you get a pass. Alaska is not that airline. Alaska looks more like a traditional hub-and-spoke airline. You’ll pay to check bags and fares aren’t rock bottom. Want inflight entertainment on a long haul? That’ll be $14. How about food? You’ll pay for that as well.
Last quarter, Alaska had an epic meltdown when its computer system failed and thousands were stuck. As if that’s not enough, Alaska is posting record profits. In the first quarter, Alaska had an operating profit of nearly $134 million. Its operating margin was nearly 14 percent. That’s a rock star result.
Were any other airline making that kind of money, people would be screaming bloody murder. Employees would be clamoring for fair treatment and better pay while customers would demand that the “outrageous” fees go away. But that’s not what’s happening here. And here’s why.
1) Alaska is Small
The bigger the company, the bigger the target it is. Think about oil companies. People love to jump on ExxonMobil and BP, but how many people hate, say, Sinclair Oil? Nobody. Well, I’m sure someone does, but it’s not vilified on a daily basis. Sinclair has gas stations in 21 states, so it’s certainly a visible name, but it’s not in the cross hairs when people think of big, bad oil. Being small also means that earnings don’t look so huge. Sure, Alaska had a great margin but its operating profit was only $134 million. Had United achieved a similar operating margin, it’s operating profit would have $1 billion. That just sound enormous.
2) Alaska’s Fees Seem “Fair”
It helps when other airlines set the bar for what the public considers to be greedy. It means if you do something below that level, you look like a hero. The big legacy airlines charge $150 to change a ticket. Alaska charges half that for changes made online. If you want to check a bag on Alaska, it’ll be $20 for each bag up to three. That may not seem that much cheaper than other airlines, but it comes with a promise. If your bag isn’t on the carousel within 20 minutes, you get compensation.
3) Alaska Operates Out of the Spotlight
Being based in Seattle means that people don’t really pay attention to you. Oh sure, the local papers will jump on stories when things go wrong, but you’re not likely to end up on the national news unless you really mess something up in a huge city like LA, New York, or Washington DC. Being in the Northwest insulates Alaska nationally, both when things are good and when they’re bad so it’s a mixed blessing.
4) Alaska’s Mileage Program is Flexible
Loyalists to Alaska’s Mileage Plan program are VERY loyal. There are so many mileage partners around the globe that members can use their miles to go just about anywhere. Those with MVP elite status get the same kind of benefits as other airlines give but with a lower mileage qualification threshold. (It’s only 20,000 miles to become MVP.) The program is also integrated with Delta SkyMiles to the point where elite members get priority boarding, better seating, and more. So it’s a program that can compete with the big guys and even provide better benefits by partnering across alliances.
5) Alaska Runs a Good Operation
For the twelve months ending February 2011, Alaska was second in on-time performance with 87.2 percent arriving within 15 minutes of schedule. There’s no question that the airline is helped by not flying much in horrible east coast congestion, but that’s not the point. Running on time means that there’s less for people to complain about. It doesn’t matter why you run on time. It just matters that you do.
6) Alaska Understands Customer Service
One of the most important reasons that people don’t hate Alaska is because when things go wrong, the airline is all over it. When computers failed, Alaska was pumping updates out constantly. Execs filmed a video apology and gave details on what happened. Alaska also encouraged everyone impacted to write in so that the airline could deal with compensation individually. It was an excellent effort all around and certainly reduced the negative impact that might have been felt by others in a similar situation.
I’m sure there are more reasons, and I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. I should make it clear that this doesn’t mean Alaska has a sparklingly perfect record. This is the same airline that in 2000 had one of its MD-80s crash off the coast of California. The resulting scrutiny over the airline’s maintenance created a ton of bad press and without question damaged the brand significantly. Alaska also took a hit after it laid off its 500 ramp workers in Seattle and outsourced the work to a third party. (It was later determined Alaska actually violated the union contract.) For these reasons, some people will always hate Alaska and I can’t blame them. But those people are in the minority today, and Alaska finds itself in one of the most enviable positions in the industry when it comes to customer perception.
Why does this feel like a blatant ad disguised as a post? I’ve seen so many Alaska Air ads on your RSS feed.
They’re maybe better than other carriers (I fly Horizon frequently), but not that much better. If you want a good carrier try one that doesn’t charge you to check bags and is known for their service, ie Jetblue or SWA.
The problem with Southwest and Jetblue is that if you need to get somewhere that that airline doesn’t fly, you’re pretty much SOL in terms of benefits, mileage/points accrual, and award tickets. Alaska gives you more flexibility than any other airline in terms of mileage redemption and accrual, especially within the U.S.
On the “known for their service” angle, Alaska has been ranked at the top of traditional network carriers for the past three years…the same distinction that Jetblue holds among low-cost carriers (though theirs is for 5 years).
Welcome to The Cranky Flier, “anonymous.” I assume you’re new here, because otherwise you’d know that I would never “disguise” an ad as a post.
Anything that’s offered to me by an airline is posted at crankyflier.com/ethics. As for the ads on the RSS feed, that’s courtesy of Google AdWords. I have absolutely nothing to do with anything that shows up there.
Brett, wonder if you noticed that when you remove the livery head and move it to a human body it starts to eerily resemble Chumlee from Pawn Stars.
I’ve never seen that show, but after some googling, I can see some resemblance.
Having spent a fair amount of time in Anchorage, you’ll find the people there very much have a love/hate relationship with AS.
They’ll ache about the cost of intra-state flights, the shortage of seats around the holidays (even as they run a nearly-hourly ANC-SEA shuttle), and your usual complaints about surly flight attendants, etc.
But they can’t/won’t fly anyone else, they’ve all got AS credit cards, etc.
It’s no different than they way people here in ATL feel about DL. It’s just on a much smaller scale and limited to their smaller west coast/Alaska network. Thus, why you don’t hear about it as much.
They’ve had their share of PR mishaps asside from the crash in 2000: remember when they fired all their union baggage handlers and the new out-sourced crew couldn’t get anything right for weeks?
Alaska has spent years marketing itself as different/better/friendlier than the big guys, that pays huge dividends and people still believe it although it’s not as true as it once was. Most people expect alaska eto be reasonably friendly (and they are) and are willing to see the bad apple employee or delay as an exception whereas for other airlines, with a less cultivated image, the exceptions are often seen as the rule.
I flew AS on the weekend for the first time, and was throughly impressed. The mainline flight from GEG-SEA was fine – on time, clean plane, good service, nice views over the Cascades. I was particularly impressed on the return flight on Horizon. I like flying Porter Airlines, and my Horizon flight felt like a Porter flight – nice quiet Q400, friendly FA’s, smooth flight. Normally they don’t have much for drink service on the shortest Horizon flights, but with a 24% load on Easter Sunday morning, they pulled out all the stops, and I had much more wine than I am used to having on the morning of religious holidays.
I’d be happy to fly them again…
Biggest thing for me: when I call their phone number (as a non-status passenger), almost immediately after I hit send, a human being answers “Alaska Airlines” and is uniformly helpful. That goes a long way.
Great comment; thats the Alaska spirit!
“””””The bigger the company, the bigger the target it is.”””””
That reminded me of a CNBC or MSNBC show on Target. It’s number two behind WalMart and they like it that way. Why? Because no one protests at the number two company, they go to the number one company to protest anything.
It’s the same with airlines, the bigger your are the more people will put you in the spotlight about anything negative because your ‘data’ will be a bigger negative then a smaller carrier.
Being able to speak to a human when I call (before I had status), above average (not perfect) customer service, but the number one–where else can I get credits for flying both American and Delta, the two largest legacy carriers in STL? As far as earning potential, award seats, etc. Mileage Plan is heads above any other FF plan. In return for good service, I will endure the often out of the way connection in Seattle (nearly) anytime I am going to travel to the west coast.
Alaska knows how to hire appropriate people to interface with customers.
That sums it up for me.
When I’m going to the west coast, I fly Alaska. Living in Boston, it’s great having non-stops to both Portland and Seattle. It’s not just that. It’s their service. And they treat people the way they should be treated. I’ve never had an Alaska employee be anything less than polite to me.
Not outsourcing the call center helps satisfy customers as well
Fortunately, most US airlines are walking away from outsourcing call centers. I don’t know that American ever did (at least, I always seem to get locals on the phone). Delta and US Airways are both bringing most if not all customer-facing agents back in house. That leaves United as the only one that has large-scale outsourcing.
because they’re human. They admit when they’ve made a mistake.
I was in Seattle in a big snow of 2009 (SEA closed for a few hours altogether), thousands of delayed passengers, and no one was cranky in the AS concourses. Why? because they knew AS would deal with it, and it wasn’t AS’ fault.
And @CDKing summed it up “Not outsourcing the call center helps satisfy customers”.
Another nice touch is that they give perks to Elite members, even if they don’t get the first class upgrade. I remember reading an article about how they offer elite members in coach a free drink before the flight, address them by their first name, and thank them for flying. If I don’t get my upgrade on Delta, I’m really no different than the guy who rarely flies them and paid next to nothing for his ticket.
Do OLCI with Delta; you’ll get a coupon for a free drink if you aren’t upgraded in advance.
For those non-flyertalk folks, the results of my googling yields OLCI=on-line check-in
Two things. One, given 87.2% on time performance is outstanding when you consider a large percentage of their flights are within Alaska and subject to outrageous weather.
Two, when AS had a very profitable year, they shared their good fortune with their employees; most of the bonuses were equal to one month’s pay, a good way to reward employee loyalty.
I live in Anchorage and am MVP and find the perks very attratctive – so attractive that I really can’t justify flying anyone else, unless they are a code-share (Delta, American). We got caught in the computer meltdown and I believe AS handled it as well as could be expected – constant communication/updates helped.
To Ben (and all).
Yes, AS does give special, first-name recognition personally to MVP Gold. I’m not there yet, but I’ve flown next to Gold – they are treated very well!
Another issue that you allude to but don’t state explicitly is that Alaska Airlines is in many ways (a) a regional airline and (b) and “Alaskan” airline. I spent my first 18 years in Alaska and then the next 9 in Southern California (flying AS up the coast). While I was frustrated by high AS fares to Alaska (due to limited competition, especially in Fairbanks), I always felt a special connection with the airline. For example, in many ways AS understands and looks after its Alaska passengers (dividend fare sale, baggage allowances within the state, etc.), and I think some of this extends to the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think people feel as positively about AS as they once did about the airline, but people from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and maybe Idaho see AS as their “local” airline, in some ways. I’d be curious to know how AS’s non-Pacific Northwest passengers feel about the airline.
I know when I was living in LA, I felt like the AS ground staff seemed to get incrementally more friendly the closer I got to Seattle/Alaska. The LA staff seemed indifferent, also like contract staff that some airlines run at smaller stations. So there’s a staffing effect, or at least there was (I don’t fly them much any more), too.
I haven’t flown Alaska all that often and not in a few years now, but from my experience they’ve got the most surly and least friendly employees of any airline I’ve seen. Not a smile to be seen on the ground or in the air, and this is my experience not from a single trip, but from several.
People may love Alaska, but from my experience, their employees do not.
I guess you don’t fly DL much if you think AS has the surliest FAs. The ones DL inherited from NW haven’t learned much “southern hospitality” yet.
They also fly routes that have little to no competition which helps drive up their numbers. Specifically they have a direct route from San Diego to Cabo, I planned a trip down south for the first time last year and I could have spent less on another airline but I would have had to connect. So I opted to pay more on AS to skip the connection and give me a few more hours in Cabo, it was well worth it for me!
In the state of Alaska…yes. On the west coast where most of the flying is done? Not at all. The bulk of operations are along the west coast where WN has a stronghold as well. WN is actually AS’s biggest head to head competitor. This has forced AS to lower costs to compete, which benefits them against every other carrier. To say they have little competition is completely false.
I can’t imagine that Southwest is the largest head-to-head competitor. An increasingly large percent of the route network is going to Hawai’i. Combine that with Mexico and you have a bunch of routes that Southwest doesn’t touch. Also, Southwest has yet to go into the Portland/Seattle to SoCal market. I assume Alaska is largely responsible for keeping Southwest out.
When you’re talking about the west coast and who offers the most service up and down the west coast, it is WN. AS considers WN’s one stops as part of that competition. 34% of AS’s ASMs are to California, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona from the Northwest. Much higher than any other part of the network (Hawaii is second with 15%). And on those routes, the main competitor including their one stops is WN. They may not provide as many route for route comparisons…but they are by far the biggest competition for those passengers.
As I was reading this article, a song by Alaska Airlines logo model Johnny Cash came up on Pandora. Perfect!
Part of why they’re not hated is that they push technology in a smart way, and to work intelligently.
I was kinda amazed when I missed putting my Dividend Miles number on a reservation. I expected to fill out a form online, then wait for the miles to post. I filled the form out online, and the miles posted, right then, and there.
I also look at their Airport of the Future to be an implementation of this, basically answering the question “How can we use technology to make this experience more pleasant?”
I thought I would post my experience on AS, since an Anonymous writer thought the article sounded like an ad. I am actually Mrs. Cranky, and you will see I have a very different, completely subjective view of AS than my husband…I have probably flown AS/horizon only two or three times, but the only time I actually remember is an AS flight from SNA to SFO. This flight was a complete cluster only made worse by an insulting pilot…long story short my flight was delayed, which turned into a rolling delay, which turned into a mechanical delay only after we had boarded. After 45 minutes on the plane I asked the flight attendant for an update…she had nothing..however she told me that I could get off the plane and ask at the gate, which I did. After the pilots at the gate and told me that the plane was just cleared to pushback, they point blank asked me if I was a paying customer…really? Apparently, since I knew the right questions to ask and wasn’t accepting the fact that we had no information and the delay was now longer than it would take to drive from SNA to SFO clearly makes me a non-revenue customer. If the customer service is so great, why didn’t I get any information, a rude and unacceptable quesiton from a pilot. Nothing about my experience on AS made me think it is different than any of the big guys. And for those AS frequent fliers beware of the salmon thirty- salmon
First thought: Mr. and Mrs. Cranky have odd arguments:: Alaska Airlines and PB&J vs PB & Honey? Re: http://inmff.net/o1y
Really? If (when?) Baby Cranky joins us, I’m not sure I want to know where the arguments will go..
Second: Yeah, it sounds like you had a really bad experience, but at least you got to hang out on Salmon-thirty-Salmon with the cool overhead bin decals..
For those who are paying close attention, I’ll have to correct Mrs Cranky here. She actually flew Orange County to Oakland. I don’t think Alaska ever flew Orange County to SFO.
That was a horrendous trip and a lot of things went wrong, but it was one experience. Also, the customer relations folks responded quickly after the fact and did give her compensation. So it could have been worse.
It is, however, pretty funny to watch Mrs Cranky visibly cringe every time she sees that flying fish.
These are very interesting points and I think your conclusion is right on. You did neglect to leave out one thing when discussing the airline’s safety issues. After Alaska outsourced its ramp operations in 2005, a luggage loader was smacked into the side of an Alaska MD-80 causing a crease that was undetected until after the plane took off and experienced a rapid decompression at 26,000 feet. The line between that airplane landing safely (as it did) and disaster is a fine line indeed. It is a significant enough event to be included in your assessment. More details can be found on my blog, Flying Lessons: http://christinenegroni.blogspot.com/2009/12/most-dangerous-workplace.html
Otherwise, well done!
Although I’m based in DC, as a frequent business traveler, I have flown Alaska several times, both across the country and up-and-down the West Coast. I’ve also done some intra-Alaska flying. I’ve had pretty universally good experiences on Alaska — clean planes, polite staff, useful people on the phone, etc. I’m a fan.
Alaska Airlines is great until to comes to flights involving their partnering with other airlines. We booked a flight to the Florida on an airline that Alaska has a partnership with, then flew to Texas, and finally had a flight back from Texas on Alaska to complete our trip. We booked this trip 8 months in advance to ensure we got flight times and seats we wanted. When we tried to check in on-line the night before our flight on Alaska, we could not. When we arrived at the airport, we were told that we could not check in on-line because we did not purchase the tickets through Alaska but instead through one of their partners. We were put on stand-by even though we tried to check in and purchased our tickets 8 months in advance. I wrote to their customer service letting them know what happened and asked that they review their check-in process for customers who booked through a partner airline. All they did was send me a $25.00 coupon which is not what I wanted. I wrote again letting them know that they missed the point of the letter – it was not related to wanting dollar compensation but rather a change to their check-in policy. They again wrote back telling me that $25.00 was all the compensation I would be entitled to. At that point, I realized that their customer service department did not employ the smartest of people – perhaps they having a reading compensation deficiency.
My guess is that you had the partner airline confirmation number (American?) and not the Alaska one. That’s one of the more frustrating things about codesharing, I’d say. You need to hunt down the different confirmation numbers.
You know, for online checking the airlines could (and should) simply say “oh you’re flying on our Partner Blah blah airlines, click here to check in.” then just submit the checkin form over to the other airline.
For kiosk checkins, ask if they’re checking a bag, if not then check them in. (a la, common use kiosks.) If they are, point them toward the right location…
Why don’t people hate AS? Because it sucks far less than all other airlines. Take, for example, a route I often take: SEA-ATL-RDU. Then compare the service on AS compared with DL. Of course, it’s hard to really provide great or bad service on a 1 hour flight from ATL-RDU. But DL is up to the challenge. It’s not just that DL or UA/CO are so big. It’s that they also suck. DL’s merger with NW simply created an airline with DL’s lackadaisical attitude toward on-time flights and reasonable connections (which is why they don’t care that their biggest hub is in one of the world’s worst airports for weather delays and general PITA) with NW’s warm and caring customer service. No, AS is not the perfect airline, but its rather newer fleet, more professional operation, and apparent commitment to something like customer service, it’s actually very good. Not as good as back in the day, when I flew SEA-ANC all the time. But pretty close–no other airline can say that.
Alaska Airlines in Alaska has a captive audience, and they do take advantage of that. Not much choice year round, but in the summer there are other carriers that fly. Alaskans cannot get a decant flight before 1 am most times.
Because of this, I have seen people get bummped so the tourist can make a flight. I live here!
I know I have made a choice to live here but come on, treat us with a little respect.
I’ve traveled on AS many many times. I’ve traveled on DL, AA, etc several times as well. And there’s just no comparison between AS and the rest. AS has clean airplanes, nice people, fast baggage, and on-time flights. And then there’s the mileage plan which is far better than any other.
I hate to travel on any other airline because the people are surly, the planes dirty, they get there when they want, my bags are torn up or don’t show up, etc. I’m simply spoiled by quality service from AS.
Just had to add my thoughts: Alaska Airlines is the only airline to provide service to 98% of Alaska. Only Fairbanks and Anchorage have any other airline flying directly into their airports. So yes, we Alaskans “like” our airline, we have no choice in the matter.
AS has done us NO favors up here in Alaska! In Anchorage, paying $600-800 r/t fares to SEA and HNL has us more in the hate zone and love. They have exploited every aspect of a monopoly carrier, who has also successfully convinced the competition to codeshare for feed rather than offer any true option or choice. To fly SEA to SAN is in the $400 range – so competition the key. Loyalty will go out the door with Southwest and Jet Blue start coming.
All the comments are great and I have to put in my two cents. I am retired AS, 34 yrs and been retired 10 yrs. In my time, I was always customer service and spent my career giving away compensation and making unhappy passengers happy. Nothing was more satisfying. Alaska is not perfect as some have said, but it’s about as close to perfect as we think it can get. No airline operates without delays and other interruptions such as the recent computer outage. Some have commented that fares in the State of Alaska are high because of little competition. Consider the fact that few carriers want to operate in AK because of the high operating costs. We see some airlines fly only summer schedules, when the loads are the heaviest with tourists, skimming the cream. But let there be an event such as bad weather, volcano eruption or other difficulty and Alaska will be the LAST carrier to cancel. I saw it many times in 22 years in the State. Now fuel costs are nearly one third of Ak Air Group’s budget, they say. Imagine the cost of flying an empty or near-empty aircraft because of weather-caused positioning. It happens more times than we wish. So thanks for all the good comments and I appreciate the others as well. If anyone remembers the “Golden Nugget” days, then you’ve really been around a while!!
You wanted to hear about “hating” Alaska Airlines…
Try living in Juneau or anywhere else in Southeast… the only airline here is “Scalp” Alaska. They have successfully run 3 competitors out of Juneau, when one is crazy enough to come in they do everything in their power to make them fail.
There are no cheap fares to go anywhere… oops I forgot, you can buy cheap tickets to get here when the legislature is in session but I can’t buy the same priced ticket to leave here.
They are running a monopoly and we are making up the difference in everyone elses cheap fares.
Alaska Airlines sucks.
No matter what Alaska does to run competitors out of SE Alaska, there is no way two carriers can survive both serving SE Alaska. If you can show me the numbers then I’d love to see them. But you won’t find the business case unless you want to fly 30 seat prop planes to Seattle. That’s the only way multiple airlines could fly many frequencies and make money.
I’m in agreement with Laura. Southeast Alaska routes subsidize all those great fares Outside. Try getting to Anchorage. It is a milk run (three to four landings to get there) or pay through the nose to go KTN-SEA-ANC. And with that milk run…?, I only get the credit for one segment, with four landings.
So as a fare base opinion, AS sucks buttermilk. As an overall opinion of planes, crew, luggage, etc., I really like ’em. I will try everything to use AS for East coast directs. And yes, buying through a partner airline does indeed wreak havoc with “confirmed” seating.
Local Juneauite chiming in here too.
Alaska is a great customer-oriented product. I’ve found I really do like Mileage Plan, and the new partnership with Delta makes it even more attractive (although I lost MVP status and now only Delta Silver). The fares out of JNU are on the high side compared to other markets. $170 one way to ANC is the norm (and that’s 21 days out, and a 75 minute flight)… and $260ish each way to Seattle – block time is about 100 minutes. I’d love to fly to Seattle for $350-$400ish roundtrip – and I’d fly MUCH MORE FREQUENTLY… however, we only get 5 flights a day in the winter (2 nonstop, 3 milk runs) and have *9* in the summer. There most definitely is room for another airline to service Juneau seasonally – however I don’t see Alaska giving up gate space for them. Delta was the last carrier here, and now AS & DL are married, well sorta, we’ll never see the widget back in here.
When I was an MVP, I was upgraded more times than I did on United as a Premier Exec (7 years) on a % basis – and I’ve even had the same flight attendant a few times who would recognize me and not even ask me for my drink order – she remembered it! I think AS has a great premium product (compared to everyone else) and the employees are a bit happier.
I really can’t ask for more from an airline, except a few more specials. $520 r/t to HNL is nice, but that’s a limited audience. I pay $800 to $1000 to get to MIA/FLL on a regular basis, and most of that is for the JNU-SEA leg.
Its interesting the divergence of opinion. Living in a relatively isolated place with a population base large enough to support one operator, and that is a good formula for high fares. But that’s part of the cost of living where you do. JNU is clean, quiet, and away from it all….and for that you have different costs. If the airfares are so upsetting, perhaps you should move somewhere where they are cheap???
You know, that’s probably a place they can improve. If you fly milk run they should give each landing as a segment credit. If you change planes at a hub you get credits by segment, why not here?
Seems like through flights are often credited that way. Several years ago I flew SAN-IAD-MCO on a United through flight. My boarding pass said San Diego to Orlando, and I used the stub when I reboarded the plane in Dulles. My Mileage Plus account received just one segment credit and I was credited with the number of miles equivalent to a nonstop flight, which as this map shows, is not an insignificant difference : http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=SAN-MCO,+SAN-IAD-MCO
there’s an eskimo guy on the tail. how could anybody hate that?
I live in Kodiak, and yeah, we’re a captive audience and I’ve had sticker shock several times booking tickets in and out of the state. On the other hand, when it all goes down the tubes and you’re standing in a very long line (which happens all the time flying in Alaska) there’s no need to wonder what’s going to happen when you finally reach the counter. They’ve seen it all before and they’re going to get you wherever you’re going. They make order out of chaos better than anyone else. In-state flights still get three free bags too!
I have noticed the same effect noted earlier, that the service and attitude seem to improve as one heads toward Alaska. The experience at the far ends of the system is not always the same thing as the experience that keeps most of us so loyal.
I love Alaska Airlines… they have great service they have never lost my baggage they have great frequent flyer program and they treat people well… plus when they had the computer breakdown they came out and said they were sorry and didnt try to blame it on someone else took accountablity and moved on… best airline in America!
Accountability is so important. DL/Comair would’ve fared better if they owned their computer meltdown at the CEO level of Comair, or the VP level of Delta Connection
Wow, a long post by Brett and 39 comments and nobody mentions the signature Alaska prayer cards on the meal trays??!!
From many years of being an MVP Gold I have to disagree with the comment above about poor in-flight service… Alaska’s FA’s are one of their greatest assets in my book, alongside those young 738s and 739s and their treatment of top-tier fliers.
I think the answer to the headline question is that Pacific Northwesterners like having an independent home-region airline and the rest of the country doesn’t really know who they are.
The question I’d pose is: “How long will they stay independent?”
There are weekly rumors that AA/DL/etc. is going to snap them up…
Alaska Airlines has been screwing us for years here in Alaska. They have a captive audience. Ever try to go to Barrow on another airline? Their mileage plan is one of the few perks(?) they offer and I’d rather have lower fares than a mileage plan you need to plan 6 months ahead to get a ticket. I’d fly any airline who gave us some kind of deal. Competition would level the playing field.
Competition would bankrupt both airlines. Nobody else flies to Barrow on 737s because it’s hard enough to make money with a 737. There just isn’t a market. Barrow is lucky it has jet service with the size of population they have. Plain and simple. There are tons of cities in the lower 48 with 10 times the population of Barrow and only get tiny puddle jumpers on a somewhat daily basis. There will never be competition in Barrow. Why can’t people be grateful that Alaska serves it. When Markair came exploded across Alaska using unsustainably low fares, what happened to them? They went bankrupt. That’s a pretty clear indication that there will not ever be competition and the prices Alaska charges are necessary to keep that flight running. They could just stop service. Which I doubt you’d want to happen.
I love to fly Horizon (part of Alaska Air) for work. I live/work in Sonoma County, CA and the flights for me have always been on-time and arrive early
Nearly every flight. I also enjoy the free beer/wine onboard. Alaska Air
Also allows you to check up to a case of wine FOR FREE out of STS, which saves my company lots of money on baggage fees for the multiple flights we take every month. I don’t often have the same experience when
Flying out of SFO with other carriers. In fact, if I can’t fly Horizon/Alaska or Virgin America, I ask myself if it is worth traveling for the headache.
To put it simply, Alaskans (ESPECIALLY Southeast Alaskans) love Alaska Airlines because they’re our lifeline to the world. It is, for many medium communities in the “panhandle” the only way out that doesn’t require the same level of planning they used to attack Verdun (read “ride the Alaska Marine Highway System”). Their agents are as friendly as their customers are and, living here, you kinda have to expect/deal with delays. When the 70+mph winds hit in Nov. and your town gets overflown, you go to Seattle and wait for a connector. They provide it as fast as they can as nicely as they can. They DON’T charge a bag fee on Alaska flights to keep us happy (and their prices aren’t THAT bad…costs me a bunch if I book 14 days in advance but if I buy during PFD time…) and even on interstate flights go out of their way to make it a good flight. You did get the mileage plan right, though! You almost can’t SPEND money without having the option to earn miles. And while the other airlines can be cheaper, so is their service. Finally they take care of their planes (no holes). That seems like a plus to me…
I’ve been an employee of Alaska for 26 years…Wien Air Alaska before that so feel I have a pretty good pulse on what it takes to operate in the state of Alaska. I hear Alaskans complain about getting hosed on airfares but, just like everything else in Alaska, it costs more to do business there. Yes, you’re paying more but things cost more in Alaska. You need to fuel the aircraft, provide maintenance, catering, ground staff, etc….which all cost more than the lower 48. You also need to own and operate your own terminals in the smaller towns…something probably no other airline in the US has to do. And you’re not going to likely fill that plane up from Anchorage to Bethel…it might go with only 20 passengers but we’ll still operate it with the hope that the cargo will help make a little money on that flight.
There’s no reason the company should offer fares that cost less than break-even. If they were forced to lose money on a route they’d drop it. Those of you in small towns such as ADQ, BET, BRW, CDV, YAK, etc should be happy you have jet service at all. If you want lower fares then ask the state legislature start up State Of Alaska Airlines….and they’ll operate at a huge subsidy to the taxpayers so that you can have your lower fares and jet service to your town of 5,000 people. Sorry but that’s just the way it is….and we know you hate it but we at least try to be pleasant as you pay $400 rt from ANC-JNU (a 1hr30min flight for you non-Alaskans).
Why don’t more people hate Alaska Airlines? Many of us do hate Alaska Airlines. My mother worked there in the late 40’s and several friends work there, so I was loyal beyond reason for too long. They have been screwing Alaskans for way too long. Alaska Airlines has treated the state like their own debit card for too long.
They need competition, on the order of a Southwest-type carrier. Someone who is truly organized and efficient. Alaska has the best pilots and equipment, bar none. They just treat their customers like sheep with credit cards.
Cranky got some attention from the Anchorage Daily News…
…and the locals commenting here and there are certainly those love/hate types I told you about.
#7) they place prayer cards on meal trays… Oh wait, that would be under why Americans should hate them
Why should Americans hate them for that? Alaska is private company and can do whatever it wants. I personally find it very strange to say the least, but it’s hardly a reason to hate them. (FWIW, I’m not a religious person at all.)
Yes, that was exactly my point… a facetious one
They are public company “ALK”
There’s been a lot of comments on -AS- but good and bad. AS is not new and has been around for many decades and while some people may think badly of them, you don’t hear the same horror stories like you do at UA/CO/AA/DL or even TW/NW/EA etc of management and rank-an-file hating each other and doing battle on something every other week.
Because of this you have workers liking their job so tend to stick around for a long time which can be why they are friendly. Having once worked for an airline (TWA) I can tell you the more workers didn’t like the company the less they did and what they did was not done in a nice friendly way.
Also in the smaller towns AS fly, the workers are going to know just about everyone in town so you tend to be friendly/helpful to people you know, so they are just naturally friendly/helpful to everyone.
And yes doing business in the state of Alaska or Hawaii is higher then in the lower 48. Just watch some of the many cable shows on Alaska and you’ll see that a gallon of milk can be $13.00+ in the small towns so you know everything else is expensive also. So even if WN went into Alaska, you would not see $39 fares like in the lower 48, it would just not happen. Sure the $600 fare may go down a little but it would still be high compared to the same mileage flown between cities as in the lower 48.
I’ve only flown AS a few times and it was good except for one same day LAX-SEA-LAX trip that the flight out of LAX was going to be so late (2hrs) that the one day short trip was a no go for me. They were not putting people on other carriers, but I did get a refund and went home. But they were still nice about it, kept us informed, and said the least known word heard from an airline or airline worker ‘Sorry’.
Wait, an airline worker said Sorry? Did you write down the date, time and their employee number for posterity?
Last time we flew to Alaska on Alaska it was awful. No problem with the flight, but I encountered a really lousey customer service response to a special issue that occurred. I accidentally forgot to drop off the rental car keys before I got on the plane, although I had returned the car to the lot, and all that, and asked the jerk who took my ticket at the loading door if he would please do it. They almost left me on the tarmac! He was sarcastic and asked if I thought “he should take that risk in my behalf.” Totally unprofessional, and finally a stewardess came out of the loading hatch and asked what was going on. I told her and was about in tears, so she finally called the rental car desk and then an Alaskan Airlines person came and got the keys and took care of it. I barely made it back to my seat where my son and daughter were waiting. I admit the mistake, but couldn’t have been more disappointed and upset with the reaction of the guy at the gate!
The only time I flew Alaska, they insisted on having a medical-service company decide whether I could fly with my own oxygen concentrator (a SeQual Eclipse, approved by the FAA). Most other airlines I fly have a form on their website for me to download, have my doctor sign, and bring with me to check-in. Not Alaska. This contract medical-service company has a HUGE conflict of interest, as they also RENT portable oxygen equipment. They insisted on talking to my doctor IN PERSON, a huge inconvenience for her, as she practices alone. The company’s rep was rude and nasty when he realized he couldn’t insist that I rent from him, and it was such a hassle I vowed never to fly Alaska again unless absolutely no other airline flew where I had to go. Grrr!
I had to reply to that last 2 on here… bot seem a little over the top… you forget to return your rental keys and expect the baggage guy to do it… I would never have asked someone to do this I would have called the rental people and dropped the keys in a certified pouch as soon as possible… liabilty factors
and oxygen on the plane… i cant even take a water bottle on the plane cannot imagine why there would be some hoops to take oxygen on the plane ….
Alaska Airlines is a great airline.. I love it and choose to fly it over anyother airline when possible… and like the Barrow guy complaining about price what did they do in the old days…mush out… be grateful for the service you have
people complain more than admit satidfaction… happy people go on their way the complainers love to moan…
My hometown is one of the milk run stops, and we would not get daily flight service if Alaska didn’t do it. I think Alaska is subsidized by the government to stop here for mail service. One of the nice things the smaller flights do is to specially welcome groups over the intercom. Traveling military personnel, Girl Scouts, and high school sports teams all get a mention.
Oxygen concentrators are allowed on planes, bottled oxygen isn’t. Models like the FAA approved SeQual Eclipse create concentrated oxygen on the go. Any gas under pressure, especially oxygen which can feed a fire, is considered HAZMAT and is not allowed aboard an aircraft. Even SCUBA tanks have to be empty to go in the cargo hold.
Insisting on talking to a doctor seems a bit cumbersome if that was case. If the FAA has approved a model and the form is properly filled out, it should be allowed on.
Personally I like the small local touches on Alaska Airlines such as regional wines and microbrews. Being smaller allows them to usually be less bureaucratic than the legacy carriers.
On fares, I would imagine Alaska is like any other business, charge what the market can bear. Fares such as San Diego to Cabo are higher than average owing to no US-based competition (Tiajuana is a poor alternative,) but routes like LA to Seattle competing against Virgin are a bargain.
As a current Alaska Airlines Captain, reading the comments on this thread has been pretty interesting; and in my over 25 years with the Company I’ve seen many changes to the way we do business. I’m sorry some of you feel Alaska Airlines is out to “screw” you. Our Company exists, and I have a job, because we try to offer you a product that fills your needs at a reasonable cost, commensurate with conditions we operate in. SE AK and our Arctic destinations can be pretty darned difficult to get in and out of. As many of you know, we try our best to get you there. For example, I’ve launched many times knowing we’ll have to hold or make multiple approaches because the weather is marginal. We carry extra gas to do it, and we’ll do it even though we know we’ll lose money on the flight. I know we’re the only game in town and I take seriously the commitment to get my passengers to their destination if I can do it safely. Alaska Airlines has pioneered satellite based approaches that require special training for us and special equipment for the aircraft. These procedures allow us to fly to lower weather minimums and increases our chances getting you to your destination. We also have a ground infrastructure to allow us to operate off of short, icy runways.
We now operate to Hawaii. This also requires special training and equipment, and even more thorough maintenance procedures. There are few, if any, airlines of our size that operate in such varied conditions as Alaska Airlines. From the Arctic down the West Coast to Mexico, from Hawaii and all the way to the East Coast, we have a route structure second to no one.
The point is that there is a cost associated with all of this. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with our senior management many times and I’ve never heard any of them say that our business model is built on screwing our passengers. We want your business. But we can’t operate as a non profit.
I’m sorry some of you have experienced less than optimal customer service, that’s certainly not our goal. But I’ve personally seen many, many examples of our Agents and Flight Attendants really going the extra mile to make things right. People have bad days, both employees and passengers, but believe me, there’s great emphasis in all our internal communications on providing a great customer service experience. You folks pay my mortgage. I want you to keep flying us.
As an aside, a quick explanation to Lee C: we contract with MedLink to provide us with medical advice and liability coverage. There have been many instances of airlines and crews being sued after the fact because of the way they’ve handled medical issues during a flight. I’m an airline Captain not an MD, I have no discretion in this matter and Alaska Airlines has no side deal with MedLink to force you to use their O2 systems. It’s not a profit maker for us. If the Gate Agent or the Flight Attendant have a question about the equipment you have they’re going to contact MedLink for their own protection – not to hassle you.
The next time you’re on one of our planes stick your head in the cockpit and say hi. It just might be me and I can thank you for your business.
Nick, what exactly is the best way and time to stick my head in the cockpit and say hi? I’d like to do this a lot of times, but I also don’t want to be an imposition. I’m not usually flying the Alaska routes, just the lower 48 routes..
The best time is usually during deplaning. Most of us try to stand at the cockpit door to say good bye to folks, although sometimes our duties don’t allow us to open the door before many of the passengers have already left.
Thanks for flying us.
Reading the comments on this thread reminded me of an excellent experience I’ve had on Alaska. I was flying AS103 between LAX and SEA on tail N754AS. (it was on August 24, 2008 if you must know!)
I had a window seat on the last row in the plane. The other five seats in that row were occupied by a family of Middle Eastern descent on their way to take a cruise out of Seattle. They were quite antsy because they were actually scheduled to fly an earlier flight, but they were held up in security and missed that flight, and they were cutting their cruise very close.
The flight attendants gave as much assistance and advise as they could, but the really simple act that she did that really made an impression on me was to make an announcement after we had taxied but before we were at the gate that this family needed to get off the plane ASAP, and if everyone could stay seated when the captain turned off the fasten seatbelt sign at the gate so that they could get off first. Wonderfully, nobody got up until they got off, and the flight attendant made a grateful “Thank you” over the PA when they got off first.
I found that to be an amazing kindness and courtesy of the other 130 some odd passengers on the flight.
Okay, one final random comment, I just noted that the 738 and 739 come in a 4 and a 5 lavatory version. Anyone know the reason why they’ve got both of these configurations?
None of our fleet have 5 lavatories. 3 or 4 depending on size of the airplane.
Oops, I miscounted 3 or 4. But the -800 / -900 are both the same size plane, so I’m still curious why they’ve got both of these configurations?
may have to do with where the planes will be primarily deployed. You could get buy with two lavs between SEA-ANC or SEA-LAS. But for ANC-HNL, ANC-ORD, or any transcontinental flight, you’ll want the convenience of the additional convenience.
alaska’s airfares has no real competition in state and on the seattle / hawaii run and charges accordingly in short the rate per mi flown compared to same outside is criminal.
Hawaiian and Delta don’t count as “real competition” on the Seattle-Hawaii flights? Both even fly planes significantly bigger than Alaska’s (767-300 and 757-300, respectively, compared to the 737-800).
I was one of the travellers who was stuck in the middle of the “computer mishap.” We had two children travelling on that flight and I had drove 200 miles into Anchorage only to find that en route our flight was canceled and we would be stuck in Anchorage until the next day. To date, I have written one certified letter and sent two emails to their customer care department and received no response. I certainly don’t consider that an excellent effort by any means. We have used AK Air exclusively for the past ten years to fly our children between here and the lower 48 multiple times per year. Sorry, a video apology just doesn’t cut it. Their choice to do nothing is utterly pathetic.
I don’t get your description of “choice to do nothing.” I also got caught up in the mishap. I ended up paying for a night in a hotel in San Jose, and getting on a flight waaay too early the next morning. That day I sent a request to Alaska asking for a $100 travel credit to cover the cost of my hotel. Since they were responding on a case by case basis I didn’t expect to hear from them immediately, but within 10 days I had an email which included a $300 travel credit for me, and $300 for my sister who was traveling with me. That’s damn fine customer service considering what I asked for. In addition, I was also refunded the cost of my hotel with a check in the exact amount of the bill.
How anyone could describe this as “Nothing” is utterly pathetic.
He wasn’t describing YOUR experience, d-bag. He was saying that Alaska did no such compensation for him — which is a perfectly reasonable complaint. The fact that Alaska can have failures and do absolutely nothing for some people, b/c they just don’t have a system in place for failures, is what’s pathetic. He clearly stated that he contacted them several times, and you have to attack him personally as being pathetic, just because you managed to win the lottery of Alaska actually responding to you? Seriously, you are a total piece of human garbage.
I booked a first class roundtrip ticket to Maui. My departure date was sold out and so I booked a day earlier and called the airline to waitlist me for the next day. Alaska Airlines said they could not waitlist me because if I showed up for the next day, then my reseveration would be cancelled. I asked why they could not call me when the waitlist cleared. They do not offer such service. Then I asked when do you waitlist and they said for frequent flyers who want to upgrade and I would have to call back everyday to see if a first class seat became available.
So Alaska Airlines can waitlist a customer who is upgrading but can’t upgrade a full fare firts class customer. Illogical. Also, they want me to call everyday to check availability. Each call costs the airline money. Illogical. Makes more sense to waitlist the customer and then have the airline call the customer.
Alaska Airlines needs to learn to better support their customers and in turn reduce costs to their contact centers.
M Crudell, show me an airline that’ll do this? I don’t think there are any US Airlines that will, if any airline. Waitlisting is usually just for travel the day of to fly on an earlier flight, or on the same flight to upgrade from coach to first for frequent fliers.
We have been loyal to Alaska for a few reasons… first and FOREMOST; we travel a lot, and with our daughter, when we started flying with her as a baby we tried 3 other airlines during our travels and when they saw my daughter they turned up their nose’s and treated us like she was the plague. Since she has been flying a few times a year since she was 3months she is REALLY used to being in the air, she watches a movie the whole time or sleeps and no one knows she is there, she’s a pro. But how SHE is treated is important to me and Alaska has ALWAYS greeted us with smiles and talked to her, helped out with hot water when we needed, made sure she had juice or water for take-off and landing. NEVER acting put off by her, or that she was a bother, in fact have praised HER for her great manners and attitude and that is special to her.
Also, the milage plan is easy and even if we don’t have enough for free flights we do for discount flights, also get $99companion flights with the Alaska Visa.
Lastly, we travel to california a lot and Disneyworld every couple of year. NON-STOP. Thats worth a couple extra bucks especially if you are doin a red-eye. Between milage, companiion and cash it will only $600 roundtrip, non-stop to Orlando in November.
Oh and did I mention the leg room, seems to be a little better to me.
That would be for 3 by the way
Tina, Sounds like you an I have experienced the same extraordinary service as we have. We also travel with our son, a 19 year old special needs boy. Working in the travel sector, we fly way more then most and have always found the level of service and compassion at Alaska Airlines to be a notch above all others. And it’s a pretty significantly sized notch too.
Alaska Airlines, to use the old cliche, “sets the bar for excellence” and they set it very high. Sure there are times when things just don’t go the way we hoped, but that’s life. With years of flying in and out of Alaska, up and down the west coast and now in and out of my wife’s home town of Denver CO. I can and will proudly say that Alaska Air has been there for us in many situations uncharacteristic of a normal passengers needs. Best of all, they do so willingly, with caring and compassionate employees that really know how to make a family feel special.
I am back on Alaska Airlines this Tuesday bound from Anchorage to Seattle and I am looking forward to the flight.
Oh goodness, the leg room. I’m a leggy sort of person, and my last flight on Hawaiian had my knees right up against the next seat. Never had that problem with Alaska.
Somewhere in the background are good memories of the airline that Cosgrave and Kennedy put together …one that served Alaskans well for these many years. Any negative experiences have been minor compared to those encountered with other domestic and foreign airlines.
Rates, arrival/departure problems…etc. will always be part of the equation… but I will always remember what this State had before AKAIR turned national and be thankfull for their flying our skies.
There’s nothing fair about charging $75 to cancel a mileage flight online over a month prior to departure date.
The fee to cancel a mileage ticket and redeposit the miles (I’m assuming the latter,) is to discourage people from making multiple frequent flyer reservations and tying up inventory. Given the frequent scarcity of frequent flyer seats at desirable periods, it keeps someone from booking three Saturdays mornings in a row to say Hawaii, eleven months out, and then canceling two of them a month out when the right weekend becomes apparent.
I understand that reasoning, but surely in this age of sophisticated computer programming, someone could figure out how to cull out those who have only made one res and then cancelled it, especially since it’s the only time I’ve done it in the past 20 years.
I dropped AkAir many years ago. By dropped, I mean I don’t use their mileage plan anymore. For one reason I hate Bank of America (But that’s another story) & they are the bank that offers the AK Air Visa. The main reason is Alaska now makes it nearly impossible to go anywhere for the advertised quantity of miles required. They always want more , sometimes double. Even many months in advance. That in turn makes AkAir miles worthless to me. A few years ago I switched to American & do not have that problem anymore. Also, you can get an AMEX,Visa & Mastercard through them. Now all my purchases from Costco & Sams Club get me airmiles. Sure they put me on AKAIR flights to & from Alaska But it is funny how American has seats available on the same AKAIR flights for the regular mileage cost & AlaskaAir does not. Alaska Air is last on my list for a decent airlines.
There are pros and cons but I fly Ak air a lot, on the pro: it’s a quality airline with good pilots and glad they have regular service in rural AK but they are also a monopoly. They raise the prices in rural Alaska so much and we have no other reasonable option to get to Anchorage. It costs $500+ r/t to get to Anchorage direct from Kotz, Bethel, Barrow or Nome. Their customer service also is not what it used to be.
Why do I like Alaska Airlines? The most recent example was when I was leaving San Diego heading home for Anchorage, TSA discovered I had left my $80 Leatherman in my carry-on and gave me the “option” of disposing of it. I went back to the Alaska check-in counter and the agent arranged to have the ramp staff find my checked bag and send it to the baggage claim area where I was able to put the Leatherman away and re-check the bag. Their baggage, ticket change and cancelation fees annoy me, but I appreciate Alaska’s let’s-get-it-done frontier spirit.
I have flown with Alaska Airlines since day one.. I remember the great service on the plane, where it counts. They go out of the way to make you comfortable. Such as when we were traveling to medical services in the lower 48 and had to transfer from Delta to Alaska at the last moment, because of Delta mechanical, their staff treated us so special with their words and their deeds. Once traveling back from Juneau and an engine conked out their stews acted calm and gracious setting up the emergency landing procedure in Anc. Making us feel safe. Landing in Honolulu once I was so proud that the first class stew was a beautiful Alaskan native lady and the pilot was Eskimo from my hometown. I hugged them both and told them how proud I was of them.I have many stories like that over the years and some not so nice stories of flying on other airlines. I love the Eskimo face on the plane. I had the privilege of knowing Chester Sevik who everyone believed was the model for the famous emblem. PLEASE don’t ever change that. also the hawaiian flowers on some jets now that they fly to Hawaii. Also get a THRILL when I see the king Salmon plane. They are ALASKA! They sell Alaska! Alaska is HOT right now..The place to hear about and to visit. Alaska Airlines helps keep it that way along with the TV shows going on..Ie Sarah Palins Alaska, Alaska State Troopers, Into the Wild, Deadliest Catch etc.They are good for business. Now as far as fares go. They show me that they are good business people because they make sure they are NOT operating in the red and yet have taken good care of their retired employees. Two of them are our good friends. I remember the hard years when MARK AIR tried their best to do them in because of Neil Bergs personal vendetta which backfired on him. They have weathered a few storms and come thru a little scratched but OK. They have my continued loyalty!
I spent many hours online or on the phone this January trying to iron out details for an Alaska Air vacation plan package to Cabo. We couldn’t use our mileage plan. They said they didn’t interface with the hotel for room requests. The website couldn’t tell us which of three cities we would arrive at for an overnight on the way back until we bought the tickets. The customer service rep on the phone wanted to charge us to book a specific city. And the vacation plan people didn’t work on weekends! We were disappointed, to say the least. Yes, the flight attendants were nice, but I’m a longtime Southwest flier, and I know what good service is.
Alaska just started a special promotion for people who live in certain Northern California zip codes. Join their mileage program and fly between Northern California and Hawaii before October 1st and you will get 25,000 bonus miles which is enough for a free trip.
Sounds like they are needing to push their bay area to Hawaii flights and think this will get people on the flights. People around here are to used to United to Hawaii to think about an airline called ‘Alaska’ to fly to the islands.
Think about it, who would you call for flights to Hawaii from around here, United who has flown for decades or an airline called ‘Hawaiian’.
This might be a good question, is Alaska’s name hurting them once they get out of the state of Alaska or out of the Pacific Northwest/West Coast?
I guess if you judge a book by the cover or do as you always have then you will never travel on Alaska. If, on the other hand, you like to be treated well then come ride with us some time. Having worked here for twenty six years as a pilot I can tell you that we have the best Flight Attendants in the country, the best maintenance and our pilots have been leading the industry for some time now. Climb on out of that rut you are in and give us a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Hawaiian flies the proper equipment to Hawaii.
You don’t see them making fuel stops in Oakland or Portland like Alaska does.
You know perfectly well the tech stops seldom occur – typically only a handful of times during particularly harsh jetstream conditions in the winter. Bottom line is the market shows Alaska is absolutely using the right equipment, as they’re making money hand over fist to Hawaii and people love their service.
38 times in a 2-3 month period doesn’t fit my definition of seldom.
Alaska Airlines: Did you Really Have to call the Police because I threatened to Twitter Poor Customer Service?
Another airlines customer service nightmare unfolded last night as several Alaska Airlines customers’ reported lost baggage and one reported stolen jewelry from their checked luggage. One of the customers mentioned that they were going post their experience on social media networks.
While resolving the baggage concerns of the numerous upset customers, police were dispatched due to security threat …what wasn’t conveyed to the police is that the threat was purely the use of the power of online media. After clarification about the situation, police let the passenger leave the airport without further incident (without their baggage) and shared a good laugh about the travesty occurring to passengers in today’s airlines industry.
“Frankly, if there was a crime committed.. one would think it would be Alaska Airlines, as this is the second time that I paid for a baggage handling fee and did not receive the service paid, did not receive a refund (only a $20 future credit on next trip with Alaska) and I still do not have my baggage.” “If a consumer pays for something and doesn’t receive service/product isn’t that theft? Who really committed a crime in this situation?”
The irony of this story is that I was just returning from attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston where we learned about the impacts of Social media to the enterprise. One of the better keynotes at the conference talked about “Serve Customer 2.0 well or Perish”. The speech described how a new kind of customer that is tech savvy and knows their way around social media and are happy to widely communicate about their positive and negative customer experiences. In fact, one of the examples noted was the airlines industry… and how negative social media has impact stock value with contrast on how great companies such as Zappos uses web media to engage and foster long term relationships with customers.
As there continues to be much news around the airlines industry and the poor customer experiences, we are witnessing a new era unfolding as customers take back their voice and force companies to serve them better. See links below to other articles where other passengers have used the power of social media that has significantly impacting corporate brands and in some instances stock value:
1. United Airlines Break Guitars: In this case a single YouTube video complaint about a bad experience with United Airlines has contributed towards United Airlines share price dropping by 10% and costing shareholders a reported $180 million! “Meanwhile, within four days of the song going online, the gathering thunderclouds of bad PR caused United Airlines’ stock price to suffer a mid-flight stall, and it plunged by 10 per cent, costing shareholders $180 million. Which, incidentally, would have bought Carroll more than 51,000 replacement guitars.”
Here’s the video, titled “United Breaks Guitars” by Dave Carroll – so far having an incredible viral effect with over 9 millions views: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
2. Movie Director Kevin Smith’s reaction to being removed from a Southwest Airlines flight for taking up too much room. Kevin has 1.6 million twitter followers and not the kind of guy you want to have talking negatively about your company. http://twitter.com/#!/ThatKevinSmith/status/9079110598 http://twitter.com/#!/ThatKevinSmith/status/9081211151
I guess this is just inspiration for the business traveler and our YES OUR VOICE CAN BE HEARD!
I’m from Seattle, and I fly Alaska Air almost weekly. I was not aware that ANYONE liked Alaska Airlines.
I used to travel Alaska Airlines a lot and now only do I look at them when I do LAX to Sea….which is about 3 times a year. The attendants are nice and listen well and and are in a great mood usuallly. They are very good at mishaps. However, when I look at LAX to Boise, Seattle and DC they are NOT AT ALL cost sustainable like they were 2 years ago. They ended non-stop to Boise, to DC, they are regularly 2 and 3 times the fair for the same ticket!! I would sell stock very soon if I had stock since I think it’s overprice as is their product. I can get the same service from USAirways or SW.
I think this is a pretty accurate article. I live in Seattle and I’ve had MVP status on Alaska for the past 3 years. The main reason i keep the status is for flights on the west coast where there is not much non-stop competition (PDX, SJC, OAK, SAT, PDX), and the FF program is not to be beat at the 20k level. They are okay, but ..
– Seating seems very tight, esp on the new 737-900ER’s, and there is no plus/comfort seating. Even as a Silver Elite on UA/CO I never had a problem getting an economy/plus seat day-of flight. As a “big/tall guy”, I find it very uncomfortable to be on a coast-coast Alaska flight, but hardly ever complain on United, and I can even be productive on my laptop!.
– Flight attendants on Alaska have a horrible habit/policy (that I’ve not seen on any other airlines) of making you put away your electronic devices 45 minutes before landing, vs. the 20-25 minutes on other airlines. Hopefully though, the days of not being able to use read on a ebook reader until touchdown are coming to a close.
– It seems that on-time performance is exceptionally good out of SEA, PDX, … most of the west coast except maybe LAX and SFO. It might not be fair to give Alaska too much credit for that.
One great thing about Alaska is their price guarantee. I’ve had several $20-$75 refunds in the past year, that amounted to 10-25% of the ticket price. It’s nice to just buy the ticket, add an alert on yapta and worry less that you bought at the wrong time.
But in the whole scheme of things, and having flown 100+k miles for each of the past 3 years, having over 150k last year and will probably have over 200k this year, I have very few complaints against the people and companies I encounter in the airline industry. I just bought a 1-stop one-way to BOS for $100.80 on United (1.5 months out for May travel) and I’ll get off at Newark for my one-way to NY (yes, I’m working the system ;). That partially makes up for the $300-$400 one-way summer fares that I’ve paid. I’m entirely confident that the airlines will bend us over the first chance they get, but at the current level of competition I see out of Seattle, I have to feel that many complaints are out-of-line and people are too sensitive. However! I do have sympathy for people that are not near a major hub, or a hub/defunct-hub that does not have significant competition (IAH/MEM/CIN/PIT .. ?).
Let’s not excuse airlines for their bad behavior at times, but I see many people on a typical flight that could afford to chill out. Yes, I’m stressed and had 3 hours sleep last night and need to get back on my laptop as soon as possible, but it’s not the FA’s fault that someone doesn’t understand that “wheel’s out” makes your bag fit into the overhead and avoids having to set it sideways and take up the whole compartment, that people on a plane can’t be respectful of one another and that it sucks dealing with people’s problems all the time.
I guess my conclusion is … Alaska is fine, United is good to very Frequent flyers, Virgin America is great! to most everyone (though their loyalty perks are less for FFs). Let’s hope VA makes it, competition increases and people become less anal and more respectful on flights!
BUYER BEWARE -Read the fine print. Alaska Airlines Charged me $705 for a “Direct-NON Stop” flight from Orlando to Seattle, but made a STOP in Denver? From Kory/Cory at Alaska Air NON customer service ” Read the Fine Print, we can make as many stops as we want and do not have tell you when you book your flight”
To bad your flight was 3 hours longer than we told you! My 5.5 hour flight then turned into a 12 hour DAY/NIGHT!
I’m sorry, but I’m an Alaska Airlines hater. I’m a born and raised Alaskan who now lives in WA, and works in Alaska. I fly every month. I can’t help but think that people who like AA just don’t know better. As a kid, flying on the plane out of state was a big adventure, and having our state name on the jet was a matter of pride. But as an adult I feel gouged for terrible service, cramped in to tiny seats, and penalized for using air miles. After flying jet blue all summer I am reminded what good value, good customer service and and a comfortable flight feels like. Jet blue offered flights for 1/2 of what AA charges, free snacks and entertainment, and considerably more room. In my opinion there is no comparison. I just hope they begin flying year round. Sorry Alaska, but you’ve been outclassed.
Most Alaskans that fly ASA are a captive customer base. No other alternative airline.
Alaskans did have a choice. Until the mid 90’s there was always choice in Alaska. First, Wien went belly up in 1984. Then Markair 12 years later. They both went outta business because Alaskans preferred Alaska Airlines. Everyone complained about MarkAir at that time, but we Alaskans have no one to blame but ourselves for Alaska having a near monopoly here. By not flying the competition when we had it and allowing that competition to fail, we brought this monopoly on ourselves.
I am an occasional flyer who has had an Alaska Mileage Visa card for many years, on which I have made a gazillion purchases in the intent of storing up miles to fly first class round-trip to Australia. (I have previously made exactly this trip via my United Visa Card, which I switched for Alaska way back when I thought United might be going under altogether.) I am now, for the first time, trying to book tickets for an international trip using some of my several hundred thousand Alaska miles, and I am discovering that — at least where “premium” seats are concerned [i.e., business or first class] on international flights — the Alaska mileage plan is a complete scam.
I assumed from the list of “partners” and the charts showing how many miles a business-class or first-class ticket would cost me to go to various destinations that it was, in fact, possible to exchange that number of miles for a business-class or first-class ticket to those destinations. I am now finding that for some destinations (e.g., Australia), first-class tickets simply never, ever exist. I have checked the calendar from now through the farthest date, and first-class is never an option. Business-class is very, very, very rarely an option … instead, I am expected to route myself through three or four unnecessary cities (e.g., San Francisco to Portland to LA to Australia, or Melbourne to Brisbane to Sydney to LAX to Portland to SFO). I can fly “business” on any of these domestic short legs, but have to fly coach on the one leg that really matters — the 13-hour grueling flight over the Pacific.
I didn’t think I was naive about frequent flyer programs. I understand there are “black-out dates” and limited mileage seats in programs. But I am not attempting to travel to and from Australia during peak travel months for this destination (i.e., Australia’s summer). I did not expect to find that the “awards” listed as available in the program promotional materials that motivated me to apply for the Alaska mileage card in the first place — and to keep paying a significant annual fee year after year (even as the perks I cared about, such as a couple of free upgrades and a $50 companion ticket) were stripped away — exist ONLY in the programs award charts, and cannot actually be redeemed. I now have 700,000 miles that I accumulated over many years with the expectation of being able to use them to travel COMFORTABLY on long-haul international flights, in travel classes with seats that fold flat into beds … and I am reeling from the discovery that they cannot actually be used for that purpose.
I am stunned that none of the reviews of mileage programs that include Alaska Air ever seems to address this issue. I feel utterly defrauded.
Can you please remove the image of my grandfather on the tee shirt? That would be a nice start. Ill give you 24 hours or I am going to post the check Alaska Airlines paid your PR firm to post this.
Waited two hours at the gate only to miss my flight. There was no gate change nor was my name called. I had to wait all night to fly out the next day. Why would you change a gate and not post it at the gate you sold a ticket to just a few hours before? Is my time not worth something?
They should. I am sitting at the gate 25 minutes after trying to use the bathroom. We are just pushing back on schedule. I was 27inutes before d
Scheduled departure when walking to the restroom they said to wait unt we were at 10000 feet. I have never been on a flight that lets you get up when the 10k bell dings. Typical sucky Alaska flight attendant service. Pompous cranky old darts who should retire. They love their Tiffany bracelets but hate the customers.
There is a reason you wont find Alaska air customer service phone # on their main page, They do not value your ainput
Oh how I long for the good old days when flight attendants where polite and helpful. I would say about 70% seem to be rude wide bodied old sows. The other 30% are great, very pleasant with an easy smile. Here is an example of rude, I am in row 25 or so and the food service starts they (the attendants) serve row 24 then skip my row and go to row 26. What??? I say “excuse me ma’am, but you missed our row”. Her response, ” Sir, you are not the only passenger, we will get to you as soon as possible”. Why do the airlines allow this type of conduct? Seems that ever since 9/11 common courtesy is a thing of the past. I live in Anchorage and unless I can fly with JetBlue I have to use Alaska Air for the west coast. Don’t even get me started on how many times Ak air left my baggage in Alaska
I hate the Q400s, their the worst planes on Alaska’s fleet. I like the CRJ-700s way better. Anyway Alaska Airlines is the best airline ever. Horizon Air used to be good but it sucks now.
Price gouging…I thought it was illegal? We are at the mercy of the airlines here in Alaska. However, they blatantly price gouge. example: They charge $650 one way the day spring break starts to go to LA and 4 days later it’s back to $150. Ridiculous and totally unprofessional. So a family of 4 will spend $2000 more to leave Alaska on the day of spring break or miss half of spring break.
ALASKA air just laid off my father and he has been creating all the apps and all the technology. They just handed him folder that said bye, how to write a perfect resume. If it weren’t for my dad Alaska would still be at level 1. traveling is my life thanks to Alaska I got advantages for cheaper. Since they said bye-bye I am going to be going no where. I might not even go to China this summer.
Alaska Airlines has very bad customer service. They humiliate, shame and discriminate against their customers. They also try to hide and delete bad reviews. No class Alaska Airlines.
I travel all over the world and I am turned off by Alaska airlines. I had a great credit card with Virgin that was my favorite airline, and when Alaska bought them out, I tried to get a credit with Alaska and they turned me down and I have good credit.