Alaska Airlines and Me

During my working life Alaska Airlines has done a couple good things for me. They began non-stop service between Portland and Phoenix at a time when I lived in Portland and business required travel to Arizona. Years later, when I lived in Santa Rosa California, Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska, initiated flights from the Sonoma County Airport to several destinations on the West Coast. Again, helpful to me, saving the sixty-mile trip to San Francisco or Oakland airports. Alaska was always a little bit better than its competitors, with clean planes, a bit more legroom, helpful staff and food on most flights. Horizon, later re-branded as Alaska, even served complimentary wine and beer on its flights.

Airlines over the past few years have striven to make air travel ever more uncomfortable and inconvenient, Alaska has followed that path, with the apparent goal to be just like all the other airlines. They now charge for checked bags, charge for a change of itinerary, charge for food and are squeezing more seats into their aircraft. What’s next, no free beer and wine on Horizon?

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“The business of business is people.”

Wild Turkey whiskey and Kool cigarettes finally caught up with Herb Kelleher. The co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines has died at age eighty-seven. Southwest began flying in 1971, serving three Texas Cities: Dallas (Love Field, not DFW), San Antonio and Houston. Today, Southwest, with 58,000 employees, carries more domestic passengers than any other airline, serving ninety-nine U.S. cities and ten foreign countries. It is the most, actually the only consistently profitable airline, even without charging fees for checked baggage or itinerary changes and with a highly-unionized workforce.

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