I’m impressed with Alaska Airlines so far!

29 03 2009

This morning I flew American Eagle (American Airlines commuter airline) from Orange County to San Francisco (SFO). Before the flight, I checked in and was pleased that I could check my luggage all the way through to Seattle, which means I didn’t have to collect it in SFO and re-check it into Alaskan Air. I was also able to get a boarding pass for the SFO to Seattle flight too, so that was good. What was not so good was the fact that EVERYTHING (except soft drinks and pathetic nibbles) in the Admirals Club lounge have to be paid for, and the free wireless is NOT available to Qantas Club/OneWorld card holders, only American Airlines people.

The flight to SFO left a couple of minutes late, but it was a very acceptable delay, and arrived some 10 minutes early which was good. We flew along the Californian coast, past Hearst Castle (I could see it ‘cos I knew what I was looking for), Big Sur, Monterey Bay, etc. It’s a beautiful day with clear blue skies and no fog banks, so the view from the plane was just gorgeous. Photos here.

It was a TINY plane — about 60 seats (seat > aisle > seat > seat) and my laptop bag wouldn’t fit in the overhead locker so I had to use “Valet Check-in”, which means you leave your bag on a cart outside the plane and it gets loaded into the hold. Problem: I have all the chocolate snacks in the laptop bag and it sat in the hot sun for at least 15 minutes, so I expect the chocolate to be spoiled 😦

We deplaned (I hate that word!) at Terminal 3 and Alaska Airlines is in Terminal 1, which meant I had to leave the security area in Terminal 3, walk a LONG way to Terminal 3, and go through security again (that’s the fourth time!). On the walk I found a $20 note lying on the ground — not a soul was in sight, so that was a lucky break!

When I got to Alaskan, I re-checked that my boarding pass from American Airlines was OK and that the gate was still correct, and asked directions to the lounge. I got to the lounge and found that being a member of the Qantas Cub has no value with Alaskan (even though they are a subsidiary of American Airlines which is part of the OneWorld alliance and where my Qantas Club membership usually gets me into their lounges). However, the lovely Mike at the Alaskan lounge counter said that only Qantas Business Class travellers could gain access. Guess what? 😉 The catch was that they had to be travelling Qantas Business that day — which I wasn’t. But a sweet smile and showing him my itinerary with all the Business Class flights that I’ve already done, and that I’ll be doing in the next week sold him 😉 He let me into the small lounge (but there was almost no-one there, so it was no big deal).

But the big plus was that Alaska Airline’s lounge has COMPLIMENTARY drinks, and decent snacks (well, cheese and bikkies, but not those horrid bar snacks like American’s lounge), and best of all, COMPLIMENTARY high-speed wireless access — they have these little table cards everywhere with the username and password! Cool! So that’s where I’m typing this from.

So far, I’m impressed with Alaska Airlines. The guy at the check-in counter was very helpful; Mike at the lounge was equally helpful and friendly.  The flight to Seattle this afternoon (which is fairly short) and my flight next Thursday on Alaska Airlines to Vancouver will be the ‘proof of the pudding’. But so far, I’m impressed with them. It’s much more like Qantas (not that Qantas is a benchmark, but compared to most US airlines, Qantas is positively luxurious with both the meals and drinks on all their flights and their lounges). Alaska is looking good…

Update later the same day: The flight to Seattle was fine — a little turbulence, but nothing major. The hosties had fun with the passengers in their announcements etc. especially when they were singing Seattle’s praises as the Emerald City, then told us the expected weather on arrival (38F and wet) and suggested we turn around and go to Cancun (Mexico)! Nibblies were free as were the soft drinks — and according to the hostie I spoke with, they’d like to keep it that way. I don’t know if you had to pay for beer, spirits or wine — I suspect so. And light meals were charged for. I liked their attitude and would happily fly with them again based on today’s experience (which is lucky seeing as though I’m flying with them again on Thursday!)

Alaskan Airlines tail

Alaska Airlines tail


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One response

9 04 2009
Craig

I have to say I do love Alaska. They’re not always on time, but the flights are always comfortable and the staff friendly. You can also get flyer miles on your Qantas membership. Always a bonus in my eyes! 🙂

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