This morning, Alaska Airlines had one of its MVP Gold get-togethers at the Millennium Hotel near the Anchorage airport. This was the first such event I’d been to–and I was impressed.
Each year Alaska has these banquets where one of the folks from HQ comes and listens to the airlines’ best customers–those who fly at least 40,000 miles each year. It’s an interesting mix of folks. There were attorneys, oil executives, consultants, retired snowbirds, insurance agents and business owners.
Rick Rasmussen (left), who heads up the Mileage Plan, talked about planned upgrades with partner airlines, including reciprocal use of Delta‘s lounges and the ability to book international partner airline itineraries all online at alaskaair.com . Rasmussen also discussed the popular experiments with in-flight wi-fi. Currently, there is one aircraft that’s outfitted with the equipment from Row 44 and the carrier is looking to outfit all the 737s.
In addition to Rasmussen, Alaska had representatives from the Board Room (Kim Mazzolini), from scheduling, a pilot, a flight attendant and a member of the IT team (“Missy Darlin’ ” on Flyertalk.com). Below, Kim (at the top of the table) makes sure breakfast is served!!
The scheduling folks talked about their second daily flight to Chicago this summer, their year-round non-stop service to Maui and upcoming service to Austin in August. Don’t forget: the nonstop flights come back this summer to Vancouver, BC, San Francisco and Denver.
Several travelers questioned Alaska about their high prices to East Coast destinations relative to other airlines. At the same time, they talked about how they mitigate the costs with their $50 Visa companion tickets and with mileage.
Lots of folks complained about the food. And Alaska’s staff was busy taking notes.
Overall, I was impressed that Alaska Airlines takes the time and makes the extra effort to reach out to its most-frequent flyers. The breakfast was well-attended, with about 90 people in the room.
Rasmussen, sales manager Scott Habberstad and the entire crew took a full two hours to solicit ideas and opinions from travelers. I also know the lunch crew was getting ready for another full house at 12 Noon.
Personally, I’m something of a bottom-feeder–trying to get the best price. So, I had to jibe Mr. Habberstad a couple of times on prices. My take is that Alaska would do well politically to offer lower-priced tickets between Anchorage and Seattle. And many of the travelers in the room would concur.
But almost of us in the room were grateful for the invitation to visit with folks from HQ and share our concerns, our compliments and even our complaints. If you’re an MVP Gold on Alaska, make time to attend one of these banquets. You’ll be glad you did. Below, here’s a shot on the tarmac when we arrived in Manzanillo, Mexico. It’s one of Alaska’s many destinations south of the border!
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