After a week of rumors, Alaska Airlines announced today a $2.6 billion buyout of Virgin America. The combined airline will have 1,200 daily departures and hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Anchorage, Los Angeles and Portland. I’ve never flown Alaska, though I will next month and they pretty consistently get good customer ratings. Virgin I did have the pleasure of taking a few times to SF from NY. Was it an amazing experience no, but it was definitely better than the standard US carrier, so hopefully the service and standards don’t suffer with the merger.