My decision to finally pick up my first flight on Alaska Airlines was driven mostly by the fact that they operate non-stop flights between Alaska and Hawaii. I think the lines look cool. Apparently that is more than enough to get me started on booking flights. The fact that I had a voucher expiring that I could use for positioning didn’t hurt either.
Pretty much the entire experience I had with Alaska Airlines was a treat. Booking online was easy. When I decided an hour later that I wanted to change the travel date the guy in the call center was more than happy to help out with that. Online check-in worked well, though the mobile site didn’t offer the option to change seats. I took care of that with the full site and snapped up seat 6A on the 737-800. That’s the window at the bulkhead between coach and first and offers plenty of legroom and no hard wall so under seat storage, too.
Dealing with the airport at Anchorage was incredibly easy. I arrived at the airport rental car facility at 1:25pm and was at the gate by 1:35pm. Considering that the flight was at 2:10pm maybe I was cutting it a bit close, but it worked and I got to have lunch with a friend up in Anchorage so it was well worth the risk. I probably even had time to hit up the Board Room and grab a drink before boarding but I was busy planning other shenanigans so I just headed to the gate and then boarded the flight.
Once on board pretty much everything is a paid transaction other than sodas and juices. Want some in flight entertainment? That’s $10 to rent the digEplayer. Food runs $7 for the hot entrees, though I will say that the chicken teriyaki looked pretty good. Booze is $6 which is pretty standard these days for US-based carriers, though there was a nice surprise towards the end of the flight.
The carrier also treats the flights to Hawaii a bit special. The flight attendants have leis and shirts to note the special service and there is a "Flight Plan" card on each seat highlighting the series of in-flight services that will be happening throughout the flight.
The service was friendly and pleasant, though the digEplayer sales did take a while, delaying the first beverage service a bit. There was also a special treat of sorts on this flight: I was buying the first round of drinks for anyone who ordered one. Maybe that skewed my enjoyment of the flight (OK, I’m sure it did a bit) but the flight overall was still quite pleasant.
Had I been in first class (I tried to buy up but it was sold out) I would have received the IFE for free as well as a full meal. I did manage to score a dessert from the F meal and I have to say that it was the best I’ve had on a domestic flight. Even better than the ice cream sundaes.
It was then time for the third service run on the flight. In addition to all the regular drink options this one included a special bit special for Hawaii service: Free Mai Tais! Yeah, it is just the Trader Vic’s plastic jug stuff, but it is still a very nice treat to help make sure that everyone is in the Aloha spirit heading into the descent. There is also a small pack of macadamia nuts as part of the service.
And then, an hour later, we were on the ground in Honolulu. I was off the plane and on my way to theBUS quickly and in my hotel about 75 minutes later.
Yes, I know that my experience isn’t completely typical of an Alaska Airlines flight. Not all of them go to Hawaii and I’m pretty sure there isn’t someone trying to spend a couple hundred dollars on booze every time. Still, I can see why the carrier has such vocal and loyal fans. I would imagine that if I lived on the left coast I’d be one of them.
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