For many travelers, airline companies are associated with simply the journey. They’re a means to an end from the time we purchase our tickets to the time we land, with a focus on leg room and in-flight food, entertainment and service in between.
Recently, however, I was challenged to think beyond that narrow scope by experiencing firsthand the growing network of partners Alaska Airlines has formed, not just with other airlines but with communities. It’s a commendable approach to global connectivity—providing transportation for select participants (from writers and dignitaries to special guests) for events happening in other parts of the world. For nonprofits, in particular, it’s the type of partnership that enables them to raise awareness about their events and attract guests who may not otherwise be able to attend.
“Our Alaska Airlines Global Partners program allows guests to earn miles faster than any other airline,” says Oriana Branon, director of community and public relations, Bay Area. “Our guests earn a mile for every mile flown, allowing them to redeem miles in ways like jetting off to Singapore for authentic chile crab or to Fiji for a snorkel or to Sydney for a decadent night out. With our handpicked 15 global partners, we help connect our guests to more than 800 destinations worldwide.”
The Seattle-based company is certainly in a position to be a connector. With its global partners network made up of 15 airline partners, such as Cathay Pacific, EL AL and British Airways, Alaska Airlines is able to connect guests to more than 800 worldwide destinations. In a major expansion in 2017, the airline added 13 nonstop routes from the Bay Area, 10 from San Francisco International and three from San Jose, further solidifying its local presence after its acquisition of San Francisco-based Virgin America.
With my earplugs, cozy blanket and night mask close at hand, I was destined for new cultures and foods, to study intriguing community partnerships and meet new friends—with a little primping and pampering along the way. From the future of food in Southeast Asia, to the opening of Nordstrom’s flagship store in Manhattan, to the rustic Kona coffee farms in Hawaii, Alaska shows it is just as invested in what’s happening on the ground as it is in the skies.
DESTINATION: Singapore and Hong Kong
EVENT: Food’s Future Summit
ROUTE: SFO to SIN; SIN to HKG
PARTNER AIRLINE: Cathay Pacific
SF-based nonprofit GlobalSF is a public-private partnership with the City of San Francisco focused on international economic development. The organization helps international companies to locate, invest and grow in the San Francisco Bay Area while helping locally based companies expand into global markets. For the first time, GlobalSF held the Food’s Future Summit event, which started in Singapore and culminated in Hong Kong, with a focus on building partnerships, visiting leading food innovation hubs and finding investment opportunities. Through Alaska Airlines’ support, Bay Area participants were able to attend the summit through its partner airline Cathay Pacific. Among them: award-winning author and restaurateur chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen, chef Belinda Leong of b. patisserie and chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s, who joined the tour and created dinners in each city incorporating ingredients from companies launching innovative products in Asia.
First on the Food’s Future Summit itinerary: Singapore’s Changi Airport.
DESTINATION: New York
EVENT: Nordstrom opening of flagship store
ROUTE: SFO to LAX to JFK
Imagine a chartered plane filled with some of Nordstrom’s top customers, all of whom are greeted with a bag of swag once they get on board. As if that weren’t enough, they are treated to accommodations at the Conrad Hilton Midtown Hotel where, upon arrival, a buffet of more beauty products await. The ultimate reward: access to Nordstrom’s new flagship store before the general public is let in, during which time they are free to explore the new mothership and have access to beauty makeovers and exclusive offers and tips, courtesy of the store’s hospitality experts. This was what Alaska Airlines made possible through its partnership with the company. The collaboration was a way for the airline to promote its connectivity between the west and east coasts. Alaska Airlines operates 13 daily flights to New York’s JFK and 12 daily flights to Newark Airport (EWR). On hand to speak at the grand opening were Erik Nordstrom and Alaska Airlines Managing Director of Loyalty Ryan Butz. A partnership made in shopping heaven.
Blogger Kachét Jackson-Henderson (right) with a friend on the special Alaska Airlines x Nordstrom flight.
DESTINATION: Kona, Hawaii
PARTNERSHIP AND EVENT: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
ROUTE: SFO to KOA
For the ninth year in a row, Alaska Airlines signed on to be the official airline of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. The 10-day festival is one of Hawai‘i Island’s major annual events and is the longest-running food festival in the archipelago. Over the years, Alaska has provided transportation for visiting travel writers and participated in events such as the Lantern Parade, Holualoa Coffee and Art Stroll and the festival’s Ho‘olaule‘a (celebration). Additionally, Alaska provides discounted travel for guests who would like to visit Kona for the festival. The event honors Kona’s heritage and promotes Hawai‘i’s unique culture. As part of the festival, a “seed to cup” farm tour took place at Greenwell Farms, giving guests a firsthand look at into the history, the farming, the processing and tasting of 100% pure Kona coffee.
Guests of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival received a tour of Greenwell Farms.