Independent and proud of it.
In a world of mega-mergers in the airline industry, Alaska Airlines is not only surviving, but thriving. As their competitors crash and burn financially, Alaska has managed to be profitable for 33 of its last 39 years. It’s been so successful, that it even went on a bit of a merger mania of its own, acquiring Virgin America in 2016.
Perhaps that explains why the Eskimo that appears on the tail of each plane is smiling so broadly. He’s been the iconic image of the airline for the last four decades, even though Alaska has expanded its routes to places that have never seen snow or an Eskimo, including Florida, Mexico, Hawaii and more recently, Cuba.
In many ways, Alaska Airlines captures the independent spirit that is such a part of many Washington State businesses. The airline’s roots can be traced back to 1932 when a rugged bush pilot, Mac McGee, began ferrying passengers between Anchorage and Bristol Bay, Alaska in his three-seat Stinson. As with most start-ups, the fledgling airline struggled to stay afloat in the early days, but Mac and his team pressed on with their vision, eventually forming Alaska Star Airlines.
The airline was originally a pure charter operation, including charters during the Berlin Airlift and Operation Magic Carpet, where thousands of Yemenite Jews were flown to Israel.
One of the secrets of the company’s success has been its reputation for innovation and service. The airline was the first U.S. carrier to offer passengers the ability to check-in online and print out their boarding passes. It was also one of the first to show in-flight movies and pioneered the use of the latest satellite navigation technology to improve safety and reliability, particularly over rugged terrain and poor weather.
Today, Alaska Airlines is one of the most respected names in commercial aviation and its commitment to serving remote communities and providing superior service to every passenger has earned Alaska numerous awards, including being the highest ranked carrier in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates for six years running. The airline has also won countless reader’s choice awards in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure, Air Transport World, Zagat and USA Today.
Alaska is the sixth-largest carrier in the U.S. with 880 daily flights to 95 destinations. It’s also one of the most punctual. More than 87% of its flights are on time.
To learn more about Alaska Airlines, visit their website.