Thursday, September 21, 2017

Alaska Airlines launches non-stop flights between SFO, NOLA

Alaska Airlines on Sept. 21 launched nonstop service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

"New Orleans is an important business market for the Bay Area," Annabel Chang, Alaska Airlines' vice president of the Bay Area, said, noting that the new flights are part of the largest network expansion in Alaska Airlines’ (NYSE:ALK) 85-year history. “By year-end, we'll have grown Alaska Airlines and Virgin America's network to serve 42 destinations from the three major Bay Area airports."

Local official were also enthusiastic about the new service.

"This is a clear indication of the continued success and growth of our regional airport,” Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans’ mayor, said, adding that the flights will bring even more travelers to the city as it approaches its tricentennial.

The first of the daily flights left the gate at SFO at 8:57, which is nine minutes past the scheduled time but still considered an "on-time" departure under the Department of Transportation's definition. It will arrive in The Big Easy at 3:07 p.m., according to FlightAware.com. Return flights will depart MSY at 4 p.m., arriving in the Bay Area at 6:30 p.m.

The new route is one of 33 new California routes to launch this year, and is Alaska/Virgin America’s second daily nonstop from New Orleans. The carrier also offers nonstop service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Passengers will ride on Virgin America’s A320 family of aircraft, which offer three classes of service, power outlets throughout the cabin, custom leather seats with adjustable headrests and a selection of food and beverage inspired by local chefs. Guests flying on Virgin America can also use iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger on their smartphones while in flight.

At present, first-class seats on Virgin America’s A320 aircraft are 21 inches wide with 55 inches of pitch. Premium economy seats are 17.7 inches wide with 38 inches of pitch while economy seats are the same width but offer 32 inches of pitch.

In March, the company announced that, starting in late 2018, it will add four more First Class seats to its Airbus aircraft, reducing the pitch to 44 inches. It will also add 18 premium economy seats, reducing pitch in that class to 35 inches.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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