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Virgin America as Standalone Brand Disappears Next Week
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Virgin America as Standalone Brand Disappears Next Week

Virgin America"™s decade-plus run as a standalone brand is finally ending next week, and if all goes well, passengers will hardly notice.

The big day is April 25. Late the night before, or early that morning, crews will remove Virgin America signage at 29 airports and replace it with your Alaska Airline"™ branding. Red-eyes will depart from the West Coast on April 24 as Virgin America, but when they fly their first flight the next day, they"™ll be Alaska "” even if the plane"™s paint reads Virgin America. Overnight, the airline will have one website, mobile app, and call center.

Behind the scenes, Alaska, which acquired Virgin America in December, 2016, will transition from having two reservations platforms "” or passenger service system in airline lingo "” to one. It"™s the type of thing that has tripped-up airlines in the past, most recently when United Airlines switched systems in 2012. At United, customers complained about delayed flights and poor customer service.

Travel experts sometimes recommend passengers get to the airport early during a cutover, but Alaska executives say they expect business as usual, though they have culled some late-night flights on April 24 to simplify operations.

"It"™s the single biggest milestone of the merger integration," Sandy Stelling, Alaska"™s managing director for process engineering, said in an interview. "But we hope it"™s a non-event for guests."

Alaska executives have reason to be bullish. They say they"™ve learned lessons from United, and from another difficult cutover after the US Airways/America West merger more than a decade ago. Alaska is also much smaller than United, which after merging with Continental was briefly the world"™s largest airline, so that makes it easier…

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