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More on the AS/VX Merger

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IFEMaster (Project Dark Overlord & Founding Member) 12 Sep 17, 19:00Post
Old thread is locked, so I'm necromancing the topic here. This *might* belong in Trip Reports, so if a mod wants to move it, feel free. I just recall the merger details being of interest in CivAv, so wanted to give a first hand update on some of the minutia to interested parties.

I had the pleasure of an SNA-SEA-SNA rountrip on AS in F at the weekend, and I was super curious to see how the branding alignment efforts were going. Both directions were served by a -800 that had received the new F seats and, if I'm not mistaken, some additional interior updates. It's very clear that some of the VX culture and CS approach has been adopted.

My thoughts, in no particular order:

- I checked in via the mobile app, but noticed the branding updates at check in with mood lighting behind the desks in blue and some ambient electronica playing in the background. 100% a nod to VX's check in experience. Was pretty cool to see.

- Background music while boarding was more of the "look how youthful and trendy we are" electronica trite. Not my thing, but still smacked of VX. There was a pre-departure beverage too; sparkling wine or orange juice. That was a nice touch.

- The new F seats are damn nice compared to the old ones. I flew VX first a few times, and I'm fairly certain that these are the same seats, minus the white leather and over-shoulder reading lights. The 41" pitch is plenty.

- Drink service was the usual AS F quality - decent wines, Alaskan beers. Sampled as much as I could in the 2h30m flight :))

- Food service was a notch above the last time I flew AS. Outbound was a make-it-yourself taco bar on a tray. Items tasted fresh and it felt like a fairly innovative idea for domestic F. Something I would have expected from VX, but felt progressive for AS. Tacos were heated onboard too. Inbound was a fairly standard chicken salad but, again, tasted fresh and was very plentiful.

- Gone is the weird carpet on the bulkhead divider. Now it's a clean matte cream with the Alaska logo and a few grey swishy lines. Much less confusing to look at after a few IPAs.

- No lounge at SNA, but the refurbished SEA lounge is a big step above what it used to be. More trendy music, mood lighting in reception, and a mix of old-school and new-school lounge seating.

Didn't get my own picture due to aforementioned IPAs, but found this to show what the refurb looks like:

Image

Overall I think AS are getting the merger right. There's enough of the classic AS branding and service for it to feel familiar for AS die-hards, but the right amount of modernization for those used to the VX "progressive" branding statements.

I've got SAN-MCO-SAN in F coming up later this year. Will be interesting to see what their transcon service is like. Hopefully up to the same standards.
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein

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JLAmber (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 12 Sep 17, 21:05Post
Interesting to read your opinions. I'm working at a company that is mid-merger with a very different company in a similar field and the process of bringing the two together has been, in the words of our illustrious managing director, a shitting nightmare. I can imagine the AS/VX merger being similar.

IFEMaster wrote:- Background music while boarding was more of the "look how youthful and trendy we are" electronica trite. Not my thing, but still smacked of VX.


Perhaps they should have gone with some remixed electro-bluegrass to appeal more universally to their new customer base. Could be worse - Monarch are still playing background music my ex business partner sold them. In 2003.

IFEMaster wrote:Drink service was the usual AS F quality - decent wines, Alaskan beers. Sampled as much as I could in the 2h30m flight


Good effort! Your commitment to product testing is commendable sir {thumbsup}
A million great ideas...
ANCFlyer (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 12 Sep 17, 21:10Post
I'm on AS ORD-SEA in F on Friday this week. I'm also curious how the merging of the two cultures will enhance/detract from the flight. I will be on VX at the end of next week, LAX-ORD.

I've read on the AS web page, and the dailies here ( :) ) about AS bringing some of the VX culture to their side of the fence.

I told my other half - MrsANCFlyer - that AS had to step up their game in the lower 48 if they want to keep the loyal VX flyers. I believe that to be a fair statement. AS, in and of itself, not too shabby. But it's not VX.

First thing I suspect we'll see disappear on VX is the 54" pitch in F. And then the dumbing down of the food offerings.

I'll have a trip report post travel on my opinion of the two - side by side.

Lastly . . . now AS is talking about keeping some of those VX Airbii. "Things that make you say Hmmmmm".








For you snowglobe fans, it's AS 27 on 9/15 and VX 1029 on 9/24.
Retired, retired again, and lastly retired again. I'm finally done.
IFEMaster (Project Dark Overlord & Founding Member) 12 Sep 17, 23:13Post
ANCFlyer wrote:I'll have a trip report post travel on my opinion of the two - side by side.


I'm curious to read your report once you post it. I've had an affection to both AS and VX for various reasons, so the way they've approached the changes so far has felt like both a compromise and a "best of both worlds". I was impressed.

I'm not sure how far they are in refurbing AS birds with the new interiors. Hopefully you get the new F out of ORD.
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
Lucas (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 13 Sep 17, 07:09Post
Looking forward to your thoughts, Pep.
ANCFlyer (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 24 Sep 17, 14:49Post
Well, back from the vacation.

AS from ORD-SEA and VX from LAX-ORD.

Final determination: AS has a hell of a lot to pay attention to regarding the gate service, cabin service and accoutrements therein, and atmosphere.

The AS F cabin (old) doesn't hold a candle to VX F cabin. Seats, entertainment, service, menu, atmosphere. AS old F seats are comfortable. There is no onboard entertainment other than the personal hand held devices with a small screen. Even with the upgrade AS has made from the digi-player to the new Windows based product, they're not competing. There is no menu passed out by the crew, and the food selection is minimal and screams "cheap". Seat pitch is 43 inches in F. There is no automatic/electric recline and surely no foot rests. AS front cabin crew are aged and have zero personality (compared to VX). The safety lecture is standard issue old school with the FAs standing in the aisle with the belt, mask and life vest pointing at the e-exits.

The VX F cabin is new and modern. Seats, entertainment, menu, atmosphere are well into the 21st century. VX F seats are comfortable, the biggest plus is 54" seat pitch. They have built in entertainment with games, on demand movies, Dish Network live television, current in-theater movies with an armrest stored screen and controller. Screens in F are 10" Interior mood lighting is great. Cabin crew are young, vibrant and down right damned entertaining. The safety lecture is definitely one of the best ever - it is an eclectic "sing along" that some of the FAs participate in and/or dance to. Funny. Makes you pay attention.

AS will dumb down the VX front cabin, the lead FA on my VX flight confirmed that. Adding a closet between row 1 and the galley. Reducing seat pitch and adding another row in F, the 54" are going to way of the dodo bird.

I have no idea what the intent in the rear cabin is. I didn't go back there.

It is becoming apparent to me that AS bought VX for the route network, not for the planes, the people or the product. In "plane" non-Vulcan English VX and VX frequent flyers are about to take it in the ass.

VX row 1.

Image

VX all day menu, please note there is STEAK available at lunch, AS wouldn't even think of doing that.
Image
Retired, retired again, and lastly retired again. I'm finally done.
IFEMaster (Project Dark Overlord & Founding Member) 25 Sep 17, 02:26Post
ANCFlyer wrote:Well, back from the vacation.

AS from ORD-SEA and VX from LAX-ORD.

Final determination: AS has a hell of a lot to pay attention to regarding the gate service, cabin service and accoutrements therein, and atmosphere.


Thanks for the impressions, Pep. If you find yourself at the behest of AS's "new" F, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. As I'd mentioned above, it feels like somewhere between old AS F and VX F. Either way, you're right in your conclusions; VX diehards are about to be forced to grab their ankles.
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein

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