Early years (1932–1945)
A Stinson "S" Junior aircraft of McGee Airways. McGee Airways was the precursor to present-day Alaska Airlines.
The airline traces its roots to
McGee Airways, which was started by
Linious "Mac" McGee in 1932. The airline flew its inaugural service between
Bristol Bay with a
Stinson single-engined, three-passenger aircraft.
 At the time, there were no scheduled flights; a flight took place when there were passengers or a load of cargo or mail.
It was the middle of the
Great Depression and the airline was struggling financially. There were too many airlines in Anchorage at the time, and not enough demand to support them. In the next few years the airline performed many mergers and acquisitions that produced changes in the name and saw business expand throughout Alaska. The first of these mergers was in 1934, when McGee sold his namesake airline for US$50,000 to
Star Air Service, an airline also located in Anchorage. This allowed McGee to enter the mining industry.
 With a fleet of fifteen aircraft, Star Air Service was a dominant airline in Alaska. But Star continued to struggle financially because of high maintenance costs for its wooden planes.
In 1937, McGee came back to the airline and opened a liquor store, and the airline began flying liquor to remote Alaskan communities. That year, Star Air Service purchased Alaska Interior Airlines and was incorporated as Star Air Lines.
 Star was again sold later that year to a group of miners.
In 1938, federal regulation began when Congress created the
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). The CAB awarded the airline most of the routes that it wanted in Alaska, but the coveted route between
Anchorage was awarded to
Pan American Airways.
In 1941, Star Air Service was purchased by Raymond Marshall, a businessman from New York. In 1942, the airline purchased three other airlines in Alaska, Lavery Air Service, Mirow Air Service, and Pollack Flying Service as well as a hangar at the
Anchorage airport. That year, the airline's name was changed to Alaska Star Airlines.
 The name Alaska Airlines was adopted on May 2, 1944 having narrowly beaten a competitor who was also applying for the name.
 In the 1940s Alaska's headquarters were in Anchorage.
When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Alaska Airlines faced a shortage of pilots. During the war, the airline lacked funds and equipment, and pilots were often forced to buy fuel for their planes out of their own pockets. The company, which was frequently subjected to lawsuits, also went through many different presidents during this time. In 1943, Alaska Airlines purchased the
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar, its first multi-engine aircraft. That same year the company's stock was traded for the very first time on the
American Stock Exchange.
Expansion after World War II (1945–1949)
An Alaska Airlines Douglas DC-3, one of the aircraft purchased by the airline after World War II
In 1945, Alaska Airlines hired its first stewardesses.
 In 1947, jockey James Wooten became president of the airline and he began to expand the airline greatly.
 Under his leadership, the company purchased many surplus military aircraft from the government that were used during World War II. The airline purchased
Douglas DC-4s and
Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commandos.
 Alaska Airlines was the first carrier certified to operate DC-3s on skis.
Alaska Airlines' large charter business made it profitable, and the airline moved its base of operations to
Paine Field, an airport north of Seattle. It kept a branch office in Anchorage, however. Despite its success, Alaska Airlines' worldwide charter business was short-lived. In 1949, the CAB tightened its regulations and placed heavy fines on the airline and shut it down completely for safety violations. The airline was prohibited from operating worldwide charter flights, and president James Wooten left the company.
 Also in 1949, Alaska Air began operating five
Bell 47B helicopters in order to support oil exploration on the
North Slope thus becoming the first airline in Alaska to operate rotary-wing aircraft.
In 1949, the airlines lifted many Jews out of
Israel in what became known as
Operation Magic Carpet. C-46 or DC-4 aircraft were used for the nearly 3000 miles flight, From
Aden then along the
Gulf of Aqaba to
Tel Aviv. The planes then flew to Cyprus in fear of the bombings. More than 40,000 Yemenite Jews were airlifted by Alaska Airlines and other carriers.
New leadership (1950s)
Alaska Airlines started the 1950s without its worldwide charter business and operations restricted to the state of Alaska. In 1950, it purchased two smaller Alaskan airlines, Collins Air Service and Al Jones Airways.
Though the airline had grown much under the ownership of Raymond Marshall, the CAB forced him out in 1951 due to continuing financial troubles. Also, Marshall had owned Alaska Airlines with the intent of getting money for himself and he was not concerned about the long-term stability of the company.
 In 1951, the CAB awarded Alaska Airlines with a temporary certificate allowing them to operate on routes from the Alaskan cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks to Seattle and Portland in the contiguous United States; this award would become permanent in 1957.
In 1952, the CAB appointed Nelson David as president, and he began to improve the financial stability of the airline. By 1957, with the carrier in a better financial situation, David left and Charles Willis, Jr. became the company's new president and CEO. A pilot during World War II, Willis introduced several marketing gimmicks that set the airline apart from other ones of the day. Under his leadership, Alaska Airlines became the first to show inflight movies. The company began service of the
Douglas DC-6, the airline's first
pressurized plane, enabling flights above clouds and weather disturbances. On these DC-6's, the airline introduced "Golden Nugget" service, which included an on-board saloon and piano.
The jet age (1960s)
The Convair 880 was Alaska Airlines' first jet aircraft.
In 1961, competitors began introducing jets on routes Alaska Airlines flew. To counter this competition, Willis negotiated with aircraft manufacturer
Convair to purchase a
Convair 880 jetliner with no money down for use on routes between Alaska and the contiguous United States. The company introduced the new jet aircraft the same year. In 1966 the company received its first
Boeing 727-100 jets and removed the Convair 880 from the fleet as a financing condition by Boeing concerning the purchase of the 727 jetliners. Several of Alaska's first 727s were series 100C models which could be operated either as all cargo freighters, in an all passenger configuration or as mixed passenger/freight
 In the spring of 1967, greatly increased passenger loads required quick addition of fleet aircraft and Alaska purchased a
Convair 990 jetliner formerly operated by Brazilian air carrier
Varig as PP-VJE which then became Alaska Airlines N987AS. This aircraft remained in service along with an increased fleet of Boeing 727-100's which were then joined by stretched
Boeing 727-200s which in turn became Alaska Airlines' signature aircraft for the next 25 years. It also became the first carrier to fly the
Lockheed L-100 Hercules (L382 model), the civil version of the military
C-130 cargo turboprop, which was used to transport oil drilling rigs to Alaska's
North Slope and later to
 Alaska also owned
Lockheed Constellation propliners including two
Lockheed L-1649A Starliners from 1962 to 1968, and three L-1049's which were used for
Military Air Transport Service operations.
 Smaller prop and turboprop aircraft were also operated, including the
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter and Super
amphibian aircraft as well as two versions of the
amphibian aircraft, one with piston engines and the other model being a conversion to turboprop engines which the airline called the "Turbo-Goose".
 The Catalina and Grumman amphibian seaplane aircraft joined the fleet when the airline acquired local southeast Alaska operator
Alaska Coastal Airlines in 1968.
During this time, Alaska Air faced some tough competition with other airlines such as
Pan Am and
Pacific Northern Airlines, the latter being an Alaska-based air carrier operating
Boeing 720 jetliners which was subsequently acquired by and merged into
Western Airlines in 1967. Northwest and Pan Am at different times operated
Boeing 747 wide body jetliners on their services to Alaska with Northwest flying Seattle–Anchorage nonstop with the jumbo jet and Pan Am flying Seattle–Fairbanks nonstop with the 747. To set itself apart from the competition, Alaska Air turned to some cheap but imaginative gimmicks such as having safety instructions read as rhymes, staging fashion shows in the aisles and having bingo games on board while en route.
In December 1962
Air Guinée signed a contract with Alaska Airlines which saw the latter company providing management expertise, in addition to two
Douglas DC-6s. The deal would have seen Alaska Airlines contracting with the airline over a seven-year period but the contract ended after only six months, leading to the
United States Agency for International Development paying a US$700,000 debt owed by the
Guinean airline to Alaska Airlines.
In 1965, Alaska Airlines turned over some routes between small Alaskan communities, as well as some smaller aircraft, to
Wien Air Alaska. This allowed Alaska to focus on more heavily traveled routes and allowed them to sell off smaller aircraft.
Throughout the 1960s, Alaska Airlines worked to promote tourism to Alaska by offering charter flights to the
continental United States. In an attempt to increase the state's appeal, Alaska Airlines conducted a promotional tour of Japan in 1963. In 1967, as the state of Alaska celebrated its centennial, Alaska Airlines introduced a promotional "Gay Nineties" theme with stewardesses dressed in
Edwardian outfits. That year, Alaska Airlines expanded to southeast Alaska with the introduction of service to
Sitka. This led to the purchase of two smaller airlines,
Alaska Coastal Airlines and Cordova Airlines, in 1968.
Economic hardship (1970s)
In the beginning of the 1970s, Alaska Airlines began charter service to
Siberia in the Soviet Union. This was the result of three years of secret negotiations between Alaska Airlines and Soviet authorities, in which the US Department of State reluctantly chose not to block the plan for fear of a potentially negative response from the Soviets. The airline gained permission to fly more than two-dozen flights in 1970, 1971 and 1972.
 Alaska Airlines was also operating
Boeing 720 and
Boeing 720B jetliners during the early and mid 1970s.
However, the airline was not in good financial shape at that time. Like much of the airline industry, Alaska Airlines was hit with rising fuel and operating costs and was on the verge of bankruptcy.
 Revenues were significantly reduced when work on the
Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was delayed. The airline's cargo aircraft had played a key role in building the pipeline, but now sat idle. The airline took another blow on September 4, 1971, when a
Boeing 727-100 jetliner
crashed on landing in Juneau, killing 111 people and resulting in America's worst single-plane crash at the time. Because the airline was struggling financially, the airline's board ousted the president and CEO Charles Willis. Former board member Ronald Cosgrave succeeded him. The airline was US$22 million in debt when Cosgrave took over, so Cosgrave began to make major cuts. The airline's cargo business was dropped completely, as well as many flights and employees. Cosgrave also sought to improve the airline's tarnished image of "Elastic Airlines." The logo was changed to an image of a smiling
Eskimo, which remains today. As a result of these efforts, the airline made a profit in 1973 and continued to be profitable thereafter.
Post-deregulation expansion (1978–1990)
Alaska Airlines was one of only three US carriers that supported the 1978
Airline Deregulation Act, knowing that they would reap significant growth and other benefits from deregulation.
 After deregulation, the company's real-estate division was spun off into its own company, with Cosgrave becoming its chairman. Leadership of the airline was passed to Bruce Kennedy, a close associate of Cosgrave. Cosgrave made an alliance with Alaska Airlines to purchase competitor
Wien Air Alaska, but this ultimately failed and resulted in fines for Alaska Air and its leaders for improprieties during the attempted acquisition.
At the time of deregulation, Alaska Airlines served ten cities in Alaska and one in the contiguous US —the city of Seattle—, and it had only ten planes in its fleet.
 Immediately after deregulation, the airline began to expand, adding the cities of
Portland and San Francisco to its network. Soon later, the airline resumed services to the Alaskan cities
Kotzebue, and it also introduced service to
Palm Springs, California.
Ontario were added in 1981.
 In 1979, Alaska also studied the possibility of acquiring and merging with
Hughes Air West, however this never came to fruition. Other cities in the continental US that were added to the airline's route map by 1985 were
San Jose in
Deregulation also brought challenges to the airline, however. The airline was faced with increased competition and inflation that put tremendous pressure on costs, profits and salaries. By 1979, competitors
Northwest Airlines and
Western Airlines were both flying wide body
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jets on the core Anchorage–Seattle nonstop route with additional competition being provided by
Wien Air Alaska which had begun flying nonstop jet service between Anchorage and Seattle.
 Northwest was operating nonstop DC-10 service on the Fairbanks–Seattle route at this time as well.
 There were also tensions with unions, particularly mechanics and flight attendants.
 In 1985, the company had a three-month-long strike with its
machinists. By June the same year, it was able to end the strike by promising to reduce labor costs and maintain peace with unions. In November 1985, the airline introduced a daily air-freight service called Gold Streak with service to and from Alaska.
Alaska Airlines was the launch customer for the
and operated many of these jets throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
In the 1980s, Alaska Airlines began acquiring
McDonnell Douglas MD-80s to replace their aging 727s. Alaska was the launch customer for the MD-83, taking delivery of their first MD-80s in 1985.
Also in 1985, the
Alaska Air Group was formed as a
holding company for Alaska Airlines. In 1986 Alaska Air Group acquired regional airline
Horizon Air, which remained a separate brand from Alaska Airlines; since then, both airlines have been subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group. In 1987, Alaska Airlines purchased
Jet America Airlines.
 Alaska initially operated Jet America as a separate airline, but this proved economically unviable and Jet America's operations were merged into Alaska's. Alaska also discontinued all flights to the Midwest and the East coast formerly operated by Jet America.
 Additional MD-80s entered the fleet via the acquisition of Jet America Airlines in 1987.
There was also a big seasonal imbalance in travel to Alaska, which mainly took place in the summer. In an effort to compensate for this, the airline introduced service to Mexican resorts, where most travel takes place in the winter. In 1988, the airline began servicing the Mexican resort cities of
Puerto Vallarta. By the end of the 1980s, 70 percent of Alaska Airlines' passengers flew south of Seattle and the airline served 30 cities in six states outside Alaska. The airline had successfully used the state of Alaska as a springboard to expand into larger, more profitable markets.
New competition, new technologies (1990s)
The airline began the 1990s with plans to lease 24
Boeing 737-400s from
International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).
 The first aircraft was delivered in April 1992.
In 1991, Alaska Airlines added several routes. In the
Russian Far East, it added the cities of
Khabarovsk, as well as service to Toronto, its first Canadian city and the first city east of the
Rocky Mountains. However, Toronto was later dropped, in 1992.
As the airline marked its 19th consecutive year of profits in a turbulent industry and racked up many awards for customer service, Bruce Kennedy retired in May 1991 and was succeeded by Raymond J. Vecci.
Alaska Airlines also faced increased competition from
low-cost carriers. One carrier that competed with Alaska was
MarkAir. Since it began operating in 1984, competition had been reduced because it had worked out feeder agreements with Alaska Airlines. However, after Alaska Air declined to buy the airline in the fall of 1991, it intensified competition with Alaska. The airline offered low-cost service on the Anchorage-Seattle route and other routes in Alaska, where Alaska Airlines earned almost one-third of its revenues. This hurt Alaska Airlines; for the first time in 20 years, it posted a loss of US$121 million. To save money, the airline canceled two proposed maintenance facilities and deferred a large aircraft purchase worth US$2 billion. It was able to increase utilization on its existing planes, though. The airline also cut labor costs, but this ended up making relations with unions tense.
The cost reductions produced quick results. In 1993, their losses decreased to US$45 million and they made a US$40 million profit the next year. Eight percent of these revenues were generated by record-setting cargo operations.
Alaska had more competition in 1993 when low-cost airline
Southwest Airlines entered the Pacific Northwest by purchasing
Morris Air. Nevertheless, Alaska Airlines was able to keep its costs down, but it maintained its high level of customer service. The airline also promoted itself as "the last great airline" and with the motto "For the same price, you just get more", yet analysts felt that Alaska Air needed deeper cost cuts.
 At the same time, the company had many strikes by the flight attendants' union.
Alaska continued to take delivery of new MD-83s during the 1990s, both to meet the demands of a growing route system, and to replace its aging and fuel inefficient 727 fleet. Their last 727 was retired in March 1994.
 The airline's MD-80 fleet peaked at 44 aircraft in 1996.
Vecci was dismissed in 1995 and replaced with John Kelly, former Horizon Air CEO. The airline soon expanded West Coast routes to take advantage of an "open skies" agreement between the US and Canada.
Alaska Airlines also pioneered some new technologies through the 1990s. It added a heads-up guidance system in 1989 to operate better in foggy conditions, becoming the first airline to use this technology. In 1995, the airline became the first U.S. airline to sell tickets on the Internet. By 2000, all the airline's planes carried
automated external defibrillators, for use in in-flight emergencies. The airline also installed self-service kiosks called "Instant Travel Machines" that printed boarding passes, allowing customers to bypass the traditional ticket counter. An X-ray device, an addition to the unit allowing passengers to check their own baggage was being tested in 1999 at Anchorage.
 This concept, known as "Airport of the Future" by the airline, was first tested in Anchorage and was later brought to its Seattle hub, and it drew attention from other airlines as well.
 The airline would also become the first airline in the world to integrate
Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) technology, adding a real-time, three-dimensional display of terrain. The system was operational in all the carrier's Boeing 737-400s by April 1999.
The late 1990s also saw the carrier recording much profitability. The airline added new training and maintenance facilities.
 Also, the airline began buying new 737s, ordering three
Boeing 737-700s and becoming the launch customer for the
Boeing 737-900 when it placed an order for ten of the jets in November 1997.
Introducing flights across the U.S. (2000s)
An Alaska Airlines
at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. Alaska was the launch customer of the 737-900 aircraft.
With the delivery of
Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft starting in 1999, Alaska began launching more medium-haul flights. In 2000, Alaska started service between Anchorage and Chicago. On May 15, 2001, the airline took delivery of its first 737-900.
 In 2001, the airline was granted slot exemptions by the Department of Transportation to operate a nonstop flight from
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Seattle, but it was halted after only a week due to the
September 11, 2001 attacks. The airline resumed service to Reagan Airport on December 4, 2001 to meet the demand.
In January 2002, William Ayer was named CEO of Alaska Airlines. Ayer had been serving as president under Kelly since 1997, having come to Alaska from Horizon two years earlier after spending 13 years with the smaller airline. Ayer took over as chairman and CEO of the Alaska in 2002 upon Kelly's retirement. He led the company through a transformation called Alaska 2010 that was intended to insulate the airline from the traditional boom-bust cycle of the airline industry.
In 2002, flights to
Newark, New Jersey were launched and in 2003, services to
 In 2003, service to Boston began.
In 2003, Alaska Airlines won the Technology Leadership Award from the magazine
Air Transport World for its pioneering of new technologies both in the airport and within the airplane itself.
The Boeing 737-800 replaced the airline's MD-83s, which were retired in August 2008.
In 2005, due to the greater efficiency of the Boeing 737 Next Generation and rising costs for maintenance, fuel, and crew training, Alaska Airlines decided to phase out its remaining 26 MD-80s and trained its pilots to fly the newer
Boeing 737-800s that were being ordered to replace them. According to the airline, the MD-80 burned 1,100 US gallons (4,200 l) of fuel per hour, while the 737-800 burns just 850 US gallons (3,200 l) per hour. The last MD-80 flights flew on August 25, 2008, with one flight from San Jose, California to Seattle, Washington and another from Sacramento, California to Seattle, Washington.
 To mark its transition to an all-Boeing fleet, Alaska Airlines unveiled a 737-800 called Spirit of Seattle with Boeing's house colors painted on the fuselage and the airline's Eskimo logo painted on the tail fin.
Also in 2005, Alaska Airlines contracted out many of its jobs, including ground crew positions, to
Menzies Aviation. In some cases this resulted in an almost 40% decline in wages.
 This agreement was found to be a violation of union agreements in 2008 and the new ground crews caused enough damage to aircraft in the first year to make the savings negligible.
 In addition, Menzies contractors gained a reputation of stealing from checked bags after a few incidents in 2007.
Starting in June 2006, Alaska Airlines introduced new cargo aircraft to the fleet: five 737-400C "combi" aircraft and one 737-400F "freighter." The aircraft were originally purchased by Alaska as passenger aircraft in 1992, and converted by Pemco Air Services.
 The 737-400C "combi" aircraft were uniquely suited for the needs of Alaska, carrying a combination of four cargo pallets and 72 passengers, allowing goods and people to be transported to remote towns. 737-400 based aircraft had 20% more passenger and cargo capacity than the aging
Boeing 737-200 cargo aircraft they replaced.
On September 9, 2007, Alaska Airlines introduced daily nonstop service between Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts.
 On October 12, 2007, the airline began service to Hawaii with a flight to
Honolulu from Seattle. Seattle–
Kauai service began on October 28, 2007 and Anchorage–Honolulu service began on December 6, 2007.
On October 26, 2008, Alaska launched service from
 On August 3, 2009, service from Seattle to
Austin, Texas began.
 Service from Seattle to
Houston began on September 23, 2009
 and from Seattle to
Atlanta on October 23, 2009.
An Alaska – Horizon
, following the retirement of the Horizon Air brand in 2010
In March 2010, Alaska Airlines began service from
San Jose, California to Kahului and Kona, Hawaii, and also from
Sacramento, California to Kahului, Hawaii.
On September 27, 2010 Alaska Airlines began service between Seattle and
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
2011 brought a major change for the Alaska Air Group; starting at the beginning of the Horizon Air would no longer operate as a separate regional airline.
 Instead, it transitioned to a capacity purchase agreement (CPA) business model, which had by that time become the regional airline industry standard. Under the CPA, Horizon operates and maintains its aircraft, while Alaska Airlines is responsible for scheduling, marketing and pricing all flights.
 As part of the change to the new business model, the Horizon Air brand was retired and all Horizon planes were repainted with a co-branded "Alaska Horizon"
Alaska Airlines also entered into a similar capacity purchase agreement with the nation's largest regional airline,
SkyWest Airlines. Starting on May 2011, SkyWest started operating several routes for Alaska under the brand "Alaska SkyWest."
In January 2011, Alaska Airlines placed an order for thirteen
737-900ERs. The aircraft have been delivered between 2012 and 2014 Alaska also ordered two 737-800s as part of this order.
The airline also recorded record profits for 2010, as well as record profits for the fourth quarter of 2010. The profit for the entire year was $251.1 million, an increase from $121.6 million a year earlier. Alaska's 2010 fourth-quarter profit of $64.8 million was up from $24.1 million from the fourth quarter of the previous year.
 Also in 2010, Alaska ranked as the most efficient airline operating in The United States.
Alaska Airlines continues pioneering new technologies today. In 2011 Alaska Airlines partnered with Boeing and
Fujitsu to be the first to use a new technology called Component Management Optimization, which will streamline maintenance checks. It will do this by allowing mechanics to point a handheld device at little
RFID tags attached to certain parts of the aircraft, which will display information about when parts were last replaced. This will allow mechanics to perform inspections quicker than conventional methods. The program is scheduled to launch in 2012.
 Also in mid-2011, the airline issued
iPads to its pilots to replace 25 pounds of paper flight manuals that pilots are currently required to carry on flights. Alaska Airlines is the first major airline to use iPads on flights; all pilots had iPads by the middle of June 2011. This was the first part of the airline's initiative to do away with the
flight bag; the airline is also considering using iPads for displaying
In November 2011 Alaska Airlines flew 75 commercial passenger flights in the U.S. powered by
biofuel using a 20 percent blend of sustainable biofuel made from used cooking oil that meets rigorous international safety and sustainability standards.
On February 16, 2012, Alaska Airlines' CEO,
Bill Ayer, retired. Ayer became the airline's CEO in 2002 and has been credited for reducing costs and keeping the airline profitable without going through bankruptcy. The airline's president
Brad Tilden officially became the new CEO on May 15, 2012.
On March 9, 2012, Alaska Airlines began service from Seattle to Kansas City
 and on June 11, 2012 began service to Philadelphia.
 Seattle-Miami flights ended on July 15, 2012, but service to nearby
Fort Lauderdale began on July 16.
 New service to San Antonio began on September 17, 2012.
 Alaska Airlines also began service from San Diego to Orlando on October 11, 2012.
In October 2012US$5 billion at list prices. The order consists of 20
Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 17
Boeing 737 MAX 9s and 13
, Alaska placed the largest order in its history when it ordered a total of 50 Boeing 737s in a deal worth
Alaska Airlines announced a plan in June 2013 to begin replacing
Boeing 737s on flights between Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska with
Bombardier Q400s operated by
Horizon Air and based out of Anchorage beginning in March 2014. The plan was intended to reduce operating expenses and eventually lower fares, but was met with a great deal of skepticism by
Fairbanks residents who expressed their frustration about safety of the aircraft and outside boarding in the cold winter climate through social media. Alaska Airlines responded to the comments on
Facebook attempting to reassure passengers of the safety of the Bombardier Q400s as well as promising to address the unusual aspects of flying in Alaska. The airline ended up modifying one of the jetways at
Fairbanks International Airport so that passengers would not have to go outside to board.
Alaska Airlines has announced 3 new nonstop destinations from Seattle. These services to Charleston, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham will begin in late 2015 using their 737 aircraft. Alaska is additionally starting service between Los Angeles and Baltimore-Washington, starting September 9, 2015.
On January 25, 2016, for the first time in 25 years, Alaska Airlines unveiled a major update to its brand, which included a new logo and livery.
 In the new design, the Alaska wordmark was streamlined and the design of the Eskimo logo was simplified and the ruff's on the parka were made more colorful.
Virgin America merger
On April 4, 2016,
Alaska Air Group announced it would acquire
Virgin America, an airline based out of the
San Francisco Bay Area. With Virgin America operating hubs in
San Francisco and
Los Angeles, the merger greatly expands the presence of Alaska Airlines in California and the
After the merger was announced,
Richard Branson, the head of the Virgin Group and one of the founders of Virgin America described himself as "sad" and disappointed with the merger.
 Despite the protest from its most high-profile shareholder, the majority of Virgin America's shareholders voted to approve the merger.
The Alaska Air Group purchased Virgin America for $57 per share, a total valuation of $2.6 billion, with additional expenses bringing the cost to approximately $4 billion.
 The acquisition was completed on December 14, 2016.
The United States Department of Transportation issued a single operating certificate for a combined Alaska Airlines and Virgin America on January 11, 2018. The airlines are expected to merge into the same passenger service system by April 25, 2018.
 A merged passenger service system means that most of the customer-facing portions of the company (including flight numbers, website, and airport check-in kiosks) will have a single brand, Alaska Airlines. Alaska expects to have the Virgin America brand fully retired in 2019.
The merger did present one major issue for the Alaska Air Group: while Alaska operates an all-Boeing 737 fleet of aircraft, Virgin America operated an all-Airbus A320 fleet. The company announced that while the Airbus aircraft will be integrated into Alaska's fleet (and repainted into Alaska's livery), the long-term strategy would be to return to an all-Boeing 737 fleet. The transition will likely take years because the vast majority of Virgin's fleet is leased from lenders, and analysts say it would be prohibitively expensive to terminate those leases early.
 The first leases do not expire until 2019, with most set to expire between 2021 and 2024.