The Coolest Airline in America Is Going Away and People Are Devastated

It will die a drawn-out death.

For folks who like a little dose of the nightclub experience, alongside all the various indignities of flying commercial in coach these days, the latest aviation news comes as a big blow.

After its purchase of Virgin America for $2.6 billion last year, Alaska Airlines has announced that the combined company will adopt Alaska's name and logo across the board — meaning that it will kill the Virgin America name. The change will happen likely sometime in 2019, according to a press release.

The same release, however, promised that the combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America fans always loved about their experience with the airline, including mood lighting, music, and enhanced in-flight entertainment — essentially, a cool and distinguishable vibe.

From the very beginning, Alaska Air Group C.E.O. Brad Tilden explained in the release, the goal of the merger was to create a low-cost and fan-favorite West Coast airline.

For his part, Virgin founder — not to mention private island owner and Barack Obama watersport racer — Richard Branson called the move "sad" in a statement on the Virgin blog.

"With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all. Many years ago, I shed tears over selling my beloved Virgin Records for $1 billion, which we needed to fight off British Airways’ Dirty Tricks campaign to try to put Virgin Atlantic out of business. Many tears are shed today, this time over Alaska Airlines’ decision to buy and now retire Virgin America. It has a very different business model and sadly, it could not find a way to maintain its own brand and that of Virgin America."

Nothing but water cannons and rainbows. #RockyMountainFly Photo Cred. Erik Conerty

A post shared by Virgin America (@virginamerica) on

He continued to address fans in typical Branson fashion, "We went through a lot together: the launch parties, the networking, the productivity on flights, the live concerts at 35,000 feet, the marriage proposals, the first in-flight wedding, the Oprah Skype to the plane! And who could forget that time in 2008 when I nearly ripped my arse jumping off the side of The Palms in Vegas? It was a long and hard journey but in the end you are the best consumer airline in America."


Some fans would heartily agree, and are voicing their heartbreak on Twitter. According to one recent study, however, the best airline in America technically already was Alaska, with Virgin America placing third overall.

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