By Benjamin Pham
Alaska Airlines Continues West Coast Push With Lounge Opening, New Flights
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced virtually every major airline in the world to quickly devise and outline a plan for recovery, revamping their fleets and route networks to account for new industry trends. Many have had to adapt to the drastic ebb and flow of passenger travel demand in recent months, which created fluctuations in flight schedules and frequencies as the carriers resumed flights and inaugurated new routes. However, some have put increased focus on expanding existing hubs to firmly strengthen their route network and appeal to returning frequent flyers as well as attract new passengers in the market.
For Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, this means its premium passengers and elite frequent flyers will have a brand new experience when traveling from one of its key west coast hubs.
Earlier this week, the carrier opened the doors of its long-awaited premium lounge in San Francisco, the most significant airport in the Bay Area for leisure and business travel. In the lounge, passengers traveling on Alaska out of one of its key hubs on the west coast will have the opportunity to experience the food and culture of the Bay Area.
“After much anticipation, we’re thrilled to give our guests a place to work, relax, unwind and enjoy some of the best of what the Golden City has to offer when they travel through SFO on Alaska or a Oneworld partner,” Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines’ Senior Vice President of Marketing and Guest Experience, said in a statement. “Hands down Alaska offers the single best value of any airport lounge membership in the country. Our eight lounges redefine the guest experience and offer a calm oasis for every type of traveler including kid-friendly spaces, peaceful nooks, local wine or beer and tasty, locally sourced bites.”
Alaska’s new lounge in San Francisco is the airline’s eighth addition to its network of open airport lounges located at its hubs and select bases.
Alaska’s recent lounge unveiling in San Francisco is a unique component of its route network expansion along the U.S. west coast, and more specifically the Bay Area. In mid-August, the carrier announced new flight services from San Francisco to Loreto, Mazatlan and Zihuatanejo, Mexico, which are primarily leisure and tourist destinations in the western part of the country
“Our guests are eager to relax, disconnect and have fun, and the places we fly to in Mexico are ideal locations to do that,” Brett Catlin, Alaska’s Vice President of Network and Alliances, said in a statement at the time. “With a total of seven nonstop destinations from the Bay Area this winter, including options from San Francisco and San Jose, tropical paradise is just a few hours away.”
New flights from San Francisco to the three cities inaugurate on Dec. 18 and operate through April 16, flying during the winter season for those passengers interested in traveling to warmer, leisure destinations for the winter holiday travel season. The new flight routes build upon Alaska’s existing international network for San Francisco, where the airline also flies to Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, three more leisure travel hotspots in Mexico.
Alaska is using its new lounge placement strategically as part of its process to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and re-establish the connection with its frequent flyers and passengers in one of its hubs in California. However, San Francisco is also a major hub for United, and this will remain one of the airline’s largest obstacles as it works to gain a stronger position outside the Pacific Northwest.