Virgin America is No More

A photo of a Virgin America airplane in flight.

Photo credit: Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock

Sad news for fans of Virgin America: the airline is all but finished after its recent merger with Alaska Airlines.

Last year Alaska Airlines purchased Virgin America for $2.6 billion, leaving many to wonder what would become of the two different airlines, as Virgin was popular for being flashy, fun, and more young-adult centric. Alaska plans on retiring the Virgin name and logo some time in 2019.

“While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name—for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares,” said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing.

Frequent Virgin flyers can take solace in one thing: Alaska Airlines will be keeping the “flair” that Virgin offered, such as mood lighting, music, and free WIFI and entertainment.

One person who isn’t happy about Virgin’s departure is Virgin America founder Richard Branson.

“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,” Branson said in a blog post. “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.”

Starting next year, Virgin’s frequent flyer program will disappear, but members will not lose their status. Current frequent flyers have the option of converting their miles to Alaska’s at a rate of 1 to 1.3 miles, or they can wait it out and have their miles traded evenly when the program dissolves.

The merger between the two airlines created the fifth-largest airline in the United States, boasting 1,200 daily flights and close to 300 planes. Alaska Airlines plans on expanding their market to 21 new cities over the next year.

Businesses That Do Good Do Better

Mean Businessman

Don’t be like this guy. There are many reasons why being mean is a bad business practice.

The word businessperson conjures up a distinct image: someone in a crisp suit, worried about profits, and likely snapping at employees. But it doesn’t pay to be mean in business, and often ill treatment and unkindness will end up actually hurting a company.

Even Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and one of the world’s leading business heads, doesn’t believe that being cutthroat in the industry is a good thing: “Almost everybody will choose the products or services of an ethically sound company over its less scrupulous competitors,” he says, adding that a good place to look when starting a small business is to companies that do good in their communities because they are more likely to be successful.

Entrepreneur outlines a few of the reasons it’s bad practice to make meanness a part of your business. For one thing, if you are unkind to others or treat others disrespectfully, it will come back to you—the people you’ve hurt are likely to be unkind in return, and, perhaps worse, they could speak up about your tactics, which will hurt you in the long run. Additionally, employees with mean bosses might themselves incorporate meanness into their work and their teams, making for one hostile work environment.

Being unkind in the office stifles creativity and innovation, too. If people are scared to share insights and ideas, they won’t—the business won’t profit from the creativity of the people it pays to be creative, and the business won’t grow. While being an unpleasant person in life has its own repercussions, being mean in business has measurable disadvantages.

But not all bosses are mean, and many of them are wonderful, effective guides. Forbes offers useful tips on being a great mentor. Part of doing the job well, the article specifies, is to “believe in the employee, both personally and professionally,” cultivating a relationship of compassion and trust between employer and employee. Be committed to the people you take on board—remember that to help them is to help yourself.

If kindness and helpfulness pervade the work environment instead of harsh criticism and unkindness, employees will be creative, committed, and focused—all necessary traits to establish a solid business foundation. A company built on ethical practices and trust is very likely to outlive its nasty competitors.

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