Recently, I flew Alaska Airlines on a transcontinental business trip. These flights were the first I’ve taken on Alaska in many years, the previous flight being on 737-200 Combi from Dutch Harbor to Anchorage. That was during my airline life, so miles and points for that flight were not a thought. For these flights, they certainly were. Alaska is unique in that they have well-developed frequent flier relationships with numerous airlines including American and Delta. I could choose to credit my miles to Alaska Mileage Plan, AAdvantage, or SkyMiles. After some thought, I went with Delta because of the outside chance of an upgrade as a Gold Medallion. In retrospect, I should have gone with AAdvantage. I wasn’t anywhere close to getting upgraded on either flight. There were over 50 elite status holders of some description on my outbound flight, according to the agent, and I don’t know how many there were on the return. However, I did see my position in the upgrade queue in Seattle thanks to Alaska’s gate monitors. I was number 7 of 7 for no available seats. 🙂 I did appreciate the early boarding opportunity though.
I found the travel experience with Alaska to be quite pleasant. Both flights were operated with newish, wi-fi equipped 737-800s. Ground and inflight personnel were uniformly polite and pleasant. I had an exit row aisle on the way to Seattle, and a row 17 aisle seat on the return. Can’t put my finger on why, but I found Alaska’s coach seats to be more comfortable than most. For the exit row flight, there was more legroom of course, but also the added bonus of normal armrests with the tray in the seat in front of you. The result was no narrowing of the seat to an uncomfortable squeeze. The padding in the seats seemed just right. On a recent exit row flight on a US Airways 737-400, I found myself feeling like I needed to go into traction after a 2 hour flight. After two 5-hour or so flights on Alaska’s aircraft, I was not in any pain. I expect seats are as subjective as food, so this is just my opinion, take it for what you will. Flight attendants did 3 beverage services, and 2 buy on board meal runs in addition to renting digEplayers, an inflight entertainment device. I did not try the digEplayer, since I had plenty of movies to watch on my MacBook, but I couldn’t help but think “what a nice idea…..I wish US Airways would offer that.”
The only “disappointment” if you can call it that was my visit to The Board Room in Seattle. Recognizing I was flying the Wednesday before Christmas, I’m not surprised it was a little crowded….but it was really crowded. I was traveling with a colleague and I did not identify any 2 available chairs in the place. We left after searching both levels.
In summary, Alaska offers a very pleasant coach experience. I did not check luggage so I can’t speak to their baggage delivery times. Checking in online or with my iPhone was a snap. All personnel I interacted with were friendly and personable. Buy on Board food seemed a cut above other airline offerings, and inflight service was frequent. I’ll look forward to my next flights on Alaska Airlines.