Alaska Airlines launches new customer service effort

For decades, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has been the premiere air carrier of the Northwest. However, the much-larger, Atlanta-based Delta has been increasing flights in and out of Sea-Tac Airport in an effort to muscle its way into the market.

On Thursday, Alaska launched “Alaska Beyond,” a massive service upgrade the company hopes will keep customers loyal through improved comfort, entertainment and food service onboard all the airline’s passenger 737 flights.

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Alaska's vice president of external relations wouldn't admit the upgrade was in response to Delta's recent push. "The enhancements we've made are really to ensure that our customers feel they don't need to fly any other airline," Joe Sprague told KIRO. "They can stick with Alaska Airlines."

But local business leaders on board a two-hour flight to demonstrate the new upgrades told KIRO 7 on Thursday that Delta has been lobbying hard for their business. "I've totally seen the Delta/Alaska Airlines push," Fearey Group CEO Aaron Blank said. Blank told KIRO he was a loyal Delta customer until recently, when he switched all his company business to Alaska Airlines because of what he calls a commitment to Seattle-based companies and Alaska's superior customer service. "Competition is good," Blank said mid-flight. "Competition keeps you on your toes. It makes you innovate, makes you grow any business. Having Delta push Alaska is a really good thing for this airline."

Adam Schoenfeld is the CEO of Seattle-based Simply Measured.  He told KIRO he appreciates what he called "the little things" included in Alaska's upgrade. "The food, the wine, the in-flight entertainment to make the experience better. That's great to see," Schoenfeld said. But his favorite new feature was the USB power outlets at every seat. "You're traveling for business, you don't want to have to search for an outlet at the airport to charge your devices before you board. You can just be comfortable, get on the plane, plug in your phone, you're good to go!" The only complaint Adam Schoenfeld had --- he'd like to see faster Wi-Fi.