For the past several months there has been speculation on Flyertalk and from the San Diego Airport Authority that Alaska Airlines might open a Board Room in Terminal 1. Alaska Airline is currently the only airline that operates out of Terminal 1 (gates 11-18). Currently, the crowded and small gate area offers 7 gates, a Starbucks, cramped seating area, bathrooms, and few concessions. There’s also abandoned space from the old United Red Carpet Club which closed when United moved to Terminal 2. The space from the former Red Carpet club is perfect for an Alaska Airlines Board Room.
Alaska Airlines should look at this space seriously and consider expanding their small network of Board Rooms to San Diego. Alaska has grown immensely over the last couple of years in San Diego and has made San Diego a focus city for their airline. The Seattle based airline that used to only offer flights from San Diego to the Pacific Northwest now offers nonstop service to three Hawaiian islands, Mexico, transcontinental service to Orlando and Boston, along with intrastate service to smaller communities in Northern California, and more. Furthermore, Alaska has opened a crew based in San Diego and plans to start nonstop service to Salt Lake in 2014. With constant year-over-year growth in San Diego and now a mini hub theres a need for an Alaska Airlines Board Room.
San Diego is growing and Alaska Airlines size in San Diego will rival as many daily departures as other hub/focus cities like Anchorage. In fact, San Diego actually offers more daily flights than San Francisco now, and San Francisco had an Alaska Airlines Board Room for years. With the growth in San Diego, it would only make sense that Alaska opens a Board Room to attract more business travelers in San Diego.
Alaska’s Major Markets
Average Daily Departures
|Los Angeles (LAX)||71|
|San Francisco (SFO)||15|
The Need for a Board Room in San Diego to Keep up with the Big 3 – AA, Delta, & United
An Alaska Airlines Board Room at SAN makes sense as Alaska currently has as many or more flights than other legacy carriers at SAN. Each week, Alaska & Horizon combine currently and offer 150 flights (~22 daily) from terminal 1. Delta and American (not including US Airways) both offer fewer weekly flights from San Diego, but both offer airport lounges. Furthermore, passengers flying Alaska cannot access partner lounges (Delta and select AA lounges) at SAN because the terminals are not connected airside.
|Airline:||Average Departure a day from SAN Jan 2014|
|Delta Air Lines||13.5|
Not only would Alaska fliers benefit from a Alaska Airlines Board Room in San Diego, it would help Alaska win market share on their new route to Salt Lake City and keep market share on their current route to Seattle, Portland, and Orlando—all under attack by Delta and Southwest. Alaska will be competing head-to-head with Delta on routes to Seattle and Salt Lake and will compete for the first time with Southwest on flights to Seattle, Portland, and Orlando this year. Alaska must find a way to woo customers and enhance the flying experience to keep them loyal and away from the competition. Alaska currently has a market share of 75% between Seattle and San Diego, and 62% between San Diego and Portland. If Alaska is serious about keeping this high market share, investing in San Diego is a must and a Board Room is the way to go.
The 4,213 sq ft space in Terminal 1 is already set up to be a lounge and a simple remodel would be a great addition for Alaska flyers. A Board Room would provide the much needed edge that Alaska needs to keep up with competition and would provide more space for Alaska Airline customers to relax before or after flights and during connections. When United and Alaska both operated from the space in T1, the terminal was excessively crowded, now there is a little more breathing room for passengers with just the one airline in the space. Yet, this will all change in April 2014 as Frontier is leaving T2 and will begin sharing the space in T1 with Alaska.
Not only will San Diego fliers benefit from a new Board Room, but those connecting via San Diego will as well. SAN is slowly becoming a connection airport for customers flying Alaska Airlines to the east coast and Hawaii. San Diego used to be 100% reliant on origin and destination traffic to the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless, as Alaska has grown in SAN, so has the connection options to other cities and routing now brings customers from Seattle, Portland, and Northern California to connect to other destinations in the Alaska network. With a small crowded terminal and few concession options, customers are begging for more to enhance their flying experience.
Finally, if rumors hold true, Alaska will be closing their Board Room in SFO concourse B in June 2014 when Alaska moves from terminal 1 to the International Terminal during SFO remodeling. Customers will have access to the small Delta SkyClub. The Skyclub is also closing in the near future as Delta is discontinuing international flights from SFO. Alaska plans to moves back to Concourse B at SFO and there is no plan to reopen the Board Room. If this all holds true, Alaska Board Rooms will be reduced from five system wide to four (Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, & LAX). With fewer clubs, Board Room membership becomes less attractive and again provides Delta an advantage on flights from SFO-SEA and SAN-SEA—new routes launched by Delta.
Alaska Airlines needs to find ways to invest in their customers. A Board Room in San Diego makes perfect sense to improve the pre-flight experience. The space is already set aside for an airport lounge and a simple remodel would provide a great space for customers. San Diego T1 and T2 are not to be connected airside for years. Thus meaning access to AA or Delta’s lounge in the imminent feature is not feasible. If Alaska wants to continue to grow and be successful in the San Diego market, the airline needs to invest in their customers. Give customers a reason to choose Alaska instead of the other airlines, level the playing field! Furthermore, as all Alaska Airline lounges are part of Priority Pass and the Lounge Club network, an Alaska Board Room would also be accessible to Frontier Airline passengers starting this April and would provide more revenue and justification for this Board Room as the terminal becomes more crowded again.