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Alaska launches beta version of Free Chat

January 10, 2017 – Hot on the heels of its acquisition of California-based airline Virgin America, Alaska Airlines has launched a beta version of Free Chat, a complimentary new service that enables guests on Alaska's Gogo-equipped flights to use iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Full functionality will be deployed on January 24.

"We're celebrating the new year – and our new, bigger airline – with the rollout of new customer-friendly enhancements on Alaska-branded flights, starting with Free Chat," said Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines' executive vice president and chief commercial officer. "We know that staying in touch while on the go is essential to our guests, many of whom don't need full Internet access. Free Chat is a great way to keep that connection alive without breaking the bank. And yes, it's fully emoji-compatible."

Free Chat is the first of a variety of new in-flight products Alaska is rolling out in 2017. In addition to a new Premium Class service, Alaska is introducing enhancements across every class of service. Though these products are currently limited to flights operated by Alaska Airlines, customer response and feedback will inform future cabin enhancements and offerings on Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and Horizon Air-operated flights.

Additional new amenities launching during January include:
• Free movies through March: To celebrate its recent merger with Virgin America, Alaska is offering free, unlimited access to its entire catalog of entertainment available to stream on guests' devices, including Hollywood movies and popular TV shows through March 31, 2017. New titles available to view in January include Hollywood hits Nice Guys, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, X-Men Apocalypse, and Ice Age Collision Course.

• Upgraded food and beverage options: Later this month, guests will begin to see new food and drink options on the snack and beverage cart when they travel, including premium wines from Washington State's award-winning Chateau Ste. Michelle, as well as new premium craft beer, bourbon and sparkling wine from La Marca.

• Premium Class: In addition to four extra inches of legroom, passengers seated in Premium Class enjoy early boarding and complimentary snacks and alcoholic beverages. More than 40% of Alaska's fleet has been retrofitted with the new section, and by year-end, more than 90% will feature this new class of service. Upgrades to Premium Class range from U$15 to $79.

"We've spent the past several years really investing in Alaska's fleet and onboard product," added Harrison. "By the end of this year, we'll have outfitted nearly half of our 737s with new, larger overhead bins with room for 48% more bags; most of our mainline aircraft feature custom Recaro leather seats with 110-volt and USB power at every seat; and we have the youngest airplanes of the top five US airlines. This week's enhancements are just the beginning of the new features and promotions guests can expect to see us implement over the next year."

10 January 2017

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