Alaska Airlines has acquired Virgin America in a whopping $2.6 Billion dollar deal, combining the forces of two powerful disruptors to the US Airline status quo. This is major news for US travelers, as the merger creates the fifth largest US airline, and obviously a whole lot of questions...

What Will Happen To Virgin America?

This comes down to licensing. Virgin is one of the strongest brands in the world, offering instant product recognition, but it costs a pretty penny. We will see the shiny red paint dissipate over the coming years, though travelers won't notice much difference now or anytime on this years calendar. As to the Virgin Elevate loyalty program, that will dissolve entirely over time in favor of Alaska's current Mileage Plan program. Interestingly, Richard Branson is apparently not too enthused about the deal, and even though he owned 22% of Virgin America, he did not have voting rights...

What Will Happen To The Frequent Flyer Programs?

Adios Virgin Elevate. Alaska's Mileage Plan, the airlines current program, will be the only surviving loyalty scheme when the merger completes. On the whole, this is great news for travelers who've enjoyed Virgin America's product, but have been hampered by their limited loyalty program. Even despite recent changes, Alaska's Mileage Plan remains a traveler friendly favorite, offering earning and mileage redemption potential on many leading airlines. Here's a brief summary of what you can do with Alaska Miles...

The Numbers... How Many Flights, Where?

The airline released an infographic during a merger call citing over $7 Billion in annual revenue, transporting more than 39,000,000 passengers annually on 1,200 daily departures with 280+ aircraft. The acquisition of Virgin America is massive for Alaska, gaining access to coveted slots at Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as routes further East, bringing access to the East Coast including New York and more direct options across the country.

How Will This Affect Passenger Travel In The US? 

Alaska and Virgin America have been great disruptors to the status quo, where airlines have been accused of collusion, raising fares due to lack of competition. They've been responsible for many "fare" fights, driving prices down as airlines attempt to corner various markets. I believe we will see a rise in competition as Alaska aims to retain Virgin America customers in key new markets. It's good news.