It’s official: Virgin America, the award-winning start-up that delivered a shot of adrenalin to the US airline system, will cease to exist.New owner Alaska Airlines has said it will retire the Virgin America name and logo “likely sometime in 2019’’. “However, many of the elements you love about Virgin America will live on, paired with Alaska’s unbeatable performance and top-rated customer service,’’ Alaska said in a blog. “Our colleagues at Virgin America built something truly amazing over the past decade, and it’s our goal to honor what they achieved while taking it one step further.’’Founder Richard Branson lamented the loss of the funky Virgin America, which has consistently been seen as a star performer in a lack-lustre US field since its launch in 2007. “This was the ride and love of a lifetime.,’’ Branson said in in a tribute to the carrier. “I feel very lucky to have been on it with all of you.“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.’’The two airlines officially merged in December, 2016, and Alaska recently announced it was using Virgin’s Airbus A320 fleet 21 new markets and 25 new daily departures from San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California. Alaska paid $US2.6 billion to make the combined airline the fifth biggest in the US and further consolidate a market that has seen the number of competitors dwindle markedly in recent years.Other airlines to have merged include US Airways, Continental, Northwest, AirTran, and America West.Whether Alaska will be able to match the standards of its popular take-over target with its remake remains to be seen but it will include redesigned cabins, high-speed internet, more premium seats, new staff uniforms and more loyalty rewards.The airline said the combined airline will offer “a fresh modern experience’’ that would offer consistently low fares and more destinations from the West Coast than any other airline.Alaska plans to give its brand a new personality in 2017 with a “welcoming West Coast vibe’’ and music from new artists in planes, airport lobbies and gates.It will debut a redesigned cabin with new seats and amenities in 2018 and says it has already started to retrofit select Boeing aircraft “expressive blue mood lighting”. High-speed satellite wi-fi fast enough to use entertainment streaming services will be retrofitted in Boeing aircraft from autumn, 2018, with the remainder of the Airbus fleet to follow so that both fleets will have the service by the end of 2019.“Modern, stylish uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang will roll out in mid-2019 for flight attendants, customer service agents, pilots, mechanics and ground crew,’’ Alaska said.There will more premium seats, with 18 35-inch seat pitch Premium Class seats due to be added to Airbus aircraft from the fourth quarter of 2018 and the number of 41-inch pitch first class seats increasing from eight to 12. The airline noted this would produce more opportunities for premium upgrades.Alaska’s mileage plan will become the sole loyalty program in 2018 and will continue to reward a mile flown with a mile earned.
During the month of December, the Personal Finance team will take a look back at some of the wonderful webinars and programming we’ve presented this year, in order to give you a chance to watch the recordings and experience these events on your own time.The Personal Finance Virtual Learning Event was held this year June 5-7. Our expert speakers tackled the topic of Listening, Processing and Understanding: Working More Effectively with Clients in Personal Finance. Events held that week included:EventsTuesday, June 5, 11 a.m.ET: Understanding Your Client’s Relationship with Money with Dr. Barbara O’NeillWednesday, June 6, 11 a.m. ET: Empathy & Ethics in Personal Finance with Dr. Michael Gutter. This is a 2-hour ethics session.Thursday, June 7, 11 a.m. ET: Communication Essentials for Financial Professionals with Dr. John Grable and Dr. Joe Goetz.Thursday, June 7, 1 p.m. ET: Capnote Discussion with Jerry Buchko.Recordings to each session are linked above, and on each page you’ll find details on how to obtain CEUs.A tremendous amount of resources were shared during the 3-day event. We collected and organized these tools here.In addition to our formal webinars, we had some fun on Facebook Live when Dr. Barbara O’Neill hosted a welcome event for the VLE.CEUs are still available for these sessions. As the year slows to a close, take a moment to watch the recorded events and take the associated quiz. If you earn 80% or higher you’ll receive an emailed certificate of completion you can exchange for CEUs.