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Topic: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: KPWMSpotter
Posted 2012-10-20 15:26:16 and read 8378 times.



To the Oregon Coast on AS and AA (or was it just AS? I can't remember...)



In late August I packed a bag and headed to the West Coast for a week of vacation. A few of my family members were vacationing on the Oregon coast. I decided that it was a good time to relax and explore a part of the US I'd never really seen before, so I went and joined them! To get to the other coast I booked myself a flight with Alaska Airlines (a new airline for me) flying MCO-SEA-PDX. On the return I booked a ticket with American and Horizon, flying PDX-SEA-DFW-MCO. After about a dozen schedule changes, some IROPS, and some terrible customer service on the part of AA that's not entirely the route I ended up flying, but I'll cover that later...

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As you may recall from my last TR, I spent the summer working in Atlanta. In mid-August I packed all of my belongings into my car and moved back down to Daytona Beach. Not wanting to waste any of my valuable time off, I barely stopped to catch my breath in DAB. A few hours after arrival I hopped a bus down to MCO for an early morning departure to the west coast.

Alaska Airlines operates a once-daily service from its hub in Seattle to 'Mickey's Corporate Office' in Orlando using their 737-800s. The route stretches the limits of what can be called a domestic flight (you'd have to go to Siberia to find a longer "domestic" segment), but Alaska's prices blew the competition out of the water. As I would soon find out, Alaska's comfortable interiors and generous service made the distance just fly by.



KMCO - KSEA
Flight # AS 0009
Equipment:
Boeing 737-890 (N558AS)
Scheduled Departure: 08:05 Actual Departure: 08:05
Scheduled Arrival: 11:05 Actual Arrival: 11:20

Since I was stuck relying on a bus to get to the airport, I walked up to Alaska's check-in counter far too early. Having woken up at 3:30am, departed the DAB bus terminal at 5:00am, and walked into the airport just after 6:00am, I was in no mood to wait around for the Alaska Airlines counter to open up. I found a communal self-service kiosk, printed a flimsy receipt-style boarding pass, and headed towards the TSA checkpoint.

The TSA had some trouble with the flimsy receipt (they couldn't find the airline name printed on it - they thought "Alaska" was my destination. Luckily I didn't have to escalate it to the supervisor level like I did when I flew Georgia Skies.) Thankfully the TSA nude-o-scope operators were all still sleeping and I made it through to the quiet airside without a fuss. I arrived at the Alaska Airlines gate area just in time to see my plane taxiing in out of the pre-dawn darkness.

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It's too early to be up...

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Everyone else got to sleep in... Alaska's empty gate area.

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Generic Orlando gate equipment; certainly not bad looking.

As the sun came up a few people began to trickle into the gate area. I decided to take the time to get up and wander around a bit. The only food available was from Burger King; a bacon and egg croissant sounded tasty, so I bought one. What I got was hardly a croissant, but at least it tasted alright...

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This is food?..

Wandering around the concourse, JetBlue was already running a busy early morning operation. Plenty of planes were arriving and departing from Central American destinations and the first wave of domestic departures was on its way out. American's gates were slowly gearing up for the day, waking a small fleet of MD-80s from their overnight slumber.

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A better look at my aircraft in the early dawn light: N558AS, a 2006 model Boeing 737-890.

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Lots of early morning JetBlue action. B6 operates a round-the-clock schedule at MCO to various South American destinations.

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Sun rising over the terminal.

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Lots of AA flights heading out as well.

Boarding began about 35 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. The gate area was still quite empty as I boarded (lots of people sleeping in today?); the plane filled slowly until just prior to the scheduled departure when (unfortunately) one last person ran on board and sat down in the middle seat beside me.


Wow, not bad. No PTV, but plenty of leg-room.


Comfortable, slim leather seats.

My seatmate turned out to be quite a character. The first words out of his mouth as he sat down were "mind if I smoke?" Before I had time to utter an "uhh...yes?" he had whipped out a package of chewing tobacco and was stuffing a pinch in his mouth. While I searched for a passage in the in-flight magazine stating Alaska's policy on tobacco products, he introduced himself as a welder headed up to the Alaska oil fields. Apparently he had missed his flight the previous night after getting drunk in the bar and had been re-booked. I almost had an empty middle seat, instead I got stuck with this character...


Not much of a view, obscured by heavy condensation.

The cabin was closed up and push back was accomplished more-or-less on time. The high Florida humidity completely fogged the windows so I took a moment to explore the seat-back offerings. Alaska's in flight magazine easily could have passed for an adventure-sports or outdoors-man's journal, but everything else was pretty standard for a domestic US carrier.

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Very professional looking safety card.


Alaska's entire fleet is GoGo equipped; certainly a lot cheaper than installing AVOD.

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Not a bad network for a quasi-regional airline. It thins out quite a bit when you remove the DL and AA connections.


Alaska's Alaskan network; not as extensive as it once was but still impressive.

MCO was still very quiet as we taxied to the runway. Without delay the pair of CFM-56s spooled up and began the sluggish takeoff roll down 17R. As the aircraft's speed increased, a sheet of water shed down the fuselage, cleaning off the condensation and finally giving me a decent window view. We rotated nearly 2/3 of the way down the 10,000 foot runway (a full load on MCO-SEA certainly must be maxing out the 737-800's performance figures).

As we rotated the engine nacelle strake produced a powerful vortex, made visible by the high atmospheric humidity; good to see that the strake's doing its job! (Apparently the nacelle vortex can increase the sectional lift coefficient at the pylon by as much as 0.2 at high angles of attack.)

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Here we go! Condensation clearing from the windows so I can see outside!

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Huge vortex coming over the wing from the engine nacelle strake.

Lifting off to the South we made a wide left turn to the East, then finally back North on course to Seattle. The seat I had selected was a little too far forward to have great views of the ground, the view straight down blocked by the 737's small Yahudi fairing. Climbing out over Florida this was no issue. Florida's topography is only slightly more interesting than open ocean...

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Turning Northbound.

Being a five and a half hour flight the in-flight service was done at a rather leisurely pace. Alaska offers "DigiPlayers" for rent rather than offering any complimentary IFE. The DigiPlayers are essentially large tablets pre-loaded with hundreds of movies and TV shows, available for $10 per flight. The players were brought through the cabin prior to the first snack service. Since I had my iPad I decided to purchase internet service and catch up on reading some Trip Reports instead.

The flight had been catered as a breakfast flight; none of the hot offerings looked much better than the Burger King croissant I'd bought in the terminal. I decided to purchase one of Alaska's "picnic packs", their take on the generic non-perishable snack box. For $7 I received some chips, crackers, cookies, as well as some processed meats and cheeses to nibble on throughout the flight. The first drink service also came with a complimentary blueberry almond cookie (very tasty.)

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Snack service, Part 1. The drink and blueberry-almond cookie were complimentary, the snack box was $7.

The flight deck did a good job of updating the cabin as we passed over landmarks along our route. Snack service wrapped up as we passed over the Mississippi River at the southern border of Illinois.

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Well underway at this point, crossing the intersection of the Ohio and Mississipi rivers just south of St Louis.

About ten minutes after the trash was collected from the first snack service, a second round of service was offered with Coffee, Tea, and water.

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Refreshment service, Part 2. Coffee.

As I pulled out my iPad my seat-mate expressed quite a bit of interest, asking what games I had installed and what I was going to play. I had no intention of playing any games, so I decided to browse the most boring plain-text websites I could think of until he lost interest and stopped looking over my shoulder...

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"For those of you on the left side of the plane, we will shortly be passing over Mt. Rushmore"

Buying internet service was worth the money for this flight (time flies when you can watch yourself on FlightAware), soon we were crossing the Rocky Mountains and beginning a gradual descent into the Seattle area.

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Refreshment Service, Part 3, while catching up on some Trip Report reading. (Of course I had to have Ginger Ale for this service...)

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Crossing over the relatively flat northern Rocky Mountains of Montana.

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Descending towards Seattle over the Cascades range.

The flight attendants were very preemptive with their "sit down, buckle up" announcements, everyone seemed to be snugly in their seats well before passing 10,000ft. As we descended, I noticed that we turned several times to the North, then West, then back North again. At first I assumed we were being vectored onto an approach path around the area's mountains, but soon the real reason became apparent. The flight deck announced that there was a radar-outage in Seattle and planes were being vectored into Sea-Tac one by one. We entered a holding pattern Northeast of Seattle and waited...and waited...

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Everyone buckled in early in the descent. I like the Alaskan-style upholstery on the cabin bulkhead.

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Holding, about fifty miles Northeast of Seattle.

My layover in Seattle was originally scheduled to be about an hour, apparently a number of folks on board had even tighter connections. While we held, the flight attendants were very proactive in making sure that tight connections would be allowed to deplane first.

The original announcement from the flight deck had offered a best-case scenario of a 30-45 minute delay. After only ten minutes of circling we were headed back in the correct direction towards Seattle. A few additional delay-vectors later we were descending into the clouds over Seattle.

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Well of course Seattle is socked-in with clouds. Descending towards the solid murky layer.

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Wow, that's one dense cloud...

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Broken out of the soup, on a long final for 16R.

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Short final, trailing a vortex from the outboard flap.


Slowing down.

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Hey, I recognize that plane! Last time I was in Seattle I was on board that flight from Osaka.

All said-and-done the original flight deck delay announcement had been quite accurate. After the long delay vectors around Seattle, we pulled into the gate a little more than a half hour behind schedule. The flight attendants asked that only passengers with connections before 12:15 deplane first (my noon connection was my ticket off the plane!) and I soon stepped out into Seattle's Concourse C. All of Horizon's Dash-8 flights depart from the end of the C concourse and I was only a brief walk away.

In Orlando I hadn't been able to print a boarding pass for the SEA-PDX segment of my trip. I stopped at a service counter and asked to have a pass printed. The friendly agent offered to swap my seat for one closer to the front (no thanks!) and handed me a boarding pass. As she handed it over she advised that "Boarding for your flight starts...oh wow, your flight is boarding now, hurry up!" With that, I made my way to the gate.

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FIDS, packed with all sorts of interesting destinations in the Pacific Northwest.


KSEA-KPDX
Flight # QX 2015
Equipment:
Bombardier DHC-8-Q402 (N425QX)
Scheduled Departure: 12:00 Actual Departure: 13:20
Scheduled Arrival: 12:50 Actual Arrival: 14:05



Horizon's busy Seattle operation sprawls across the ramp, all centered at a single gate. Individual "sub-gates" allow access to the single doorway to the ramp. Today, my flight was boarding from Gate 2, sub-gate B. The gate area was swamped with passengers waiting for my flight and a dozen others departing soon afterwards. I made my way through the crowd of gate-lice and found myself somehow first in line for my flight (it's hard to tell who's loitering and who's in line sometimes...)

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Horizon's busy ramp at Gate 2.

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Behind the glass wall, headed to the plane!

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On the ramp. The window boxes of flowers don't really detract from the industrial vibe of being on an airport apron...

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A mini-super-tug pushing back one of many Horizon Q400s.

My aircraft was parked at the far end of the ramp (the gate agent marked the specific door number on my boarding pass in crayon). Horizon boards through both the front and rear doors of their Q400s. I had selected myself a seat in Row 18; partially for the better view, partially just to board through the rear door and walk under the wing!

Horizon has streamlined the process of gate-checked luggage with their "A La Carte" service, allowing passengers to deposit their rollaboards on a covered cart on the ramp before boarding. While my fellow passengers all fiddled with their large luggage, I snuck through the back door to be one of the first on board!

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Portland, yep, that's me! Destination displayed on the "A La Carte" cart(e). Funny that they don't specify *which* Portland...

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Rear stairs, under the wing? Of course!

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First person aboard, while everyone else fiddled with their rollaboard baggage outside.

The Dash-8's cabin was certainly showing some wear-and-tear. The Q400s are fitted with standard non-reclining regional type seats (the same awful seats on the CRJ-200 series), but I had no major complaints about the cabin. Like with all Dash-8s the fuselage curved in at the window, slightly limiting legroom.


Not bad legroom, not great either. Standard for a regional turboprop.

Exploring the seat-back pockets I stumbled across a card detailing the free beverage options, including free regional beer and wines! At first I thought I'd missed out on plenty of free beer on my previous flight, but I later found out that the complimentary drinks are unique to Horizon's turboprop services. The rest of the seat back contents were showing the same general wear as the cabin, not quite as polished and professional as the Alaska Airlines handouts on the previous flight.


Standard safety card, older style than Alaska's.

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Old, cartoon style safety information.

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What's this? Free beer and wine? Nice.

I had selected a seat in row 18 hoping that I would be aft of the engine for a decent view. It turns out I was off by a couple rows; only the far back of the plane and the far front get clear views. As I've noted before, the Q400's engines are absolutely massive and dominate any views out the window.


Not much of a view...unless you like airplane parts!

Right on time the engines started up and we pushed back from the gate. It took quite a while to get moving from the ramp. At first I attributed this to congestion on the taxiway behind us, but soon one of the pilots came over the intercom with the dreaded "Well folks..." message. Apparently one of the rudder pedals was sticking and they were in the process of consulting with maintenance.

After a very brief consultation the captain came back over the intercom to explain that the plane would have to be taken out of service. Everyone needed to go back to the terminal and wait for them to find a new plane... The engines shut down and everyone was herded off, just a couple gates away from where we started.

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...and back off again, a bit sooner than planned.

No instructions were given about where to wait or who to talk to for the replacement flight. The gate where we deplaned had no clue, the service center had no clue, but I eventually found the gate agent at our original departure gate was on top of things. All of the flight's 70-something passengers somehow found their way to the gate where the gate agent was promising that we'd be boarding very shortly.

Peering out at the now empty ramp, I only saw one plane...and it was much more colorful than the standard Alaska Horizon livery. Waiting at the foot of the stairs was Horizon's confetti and banner draped 25th anniversary celebration plane! My hopes were confirmed when an angry passenger demanded to know where the replacement plane was. The gate agent gestured towards the colorful Q400 and said "It's right there!"

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I only see one plane out there...and it's not white!

After only 15 minutes in the terminal boarding began exactly as it had earlier...except this time I had a better idea of which airplane on the ramp would be my ride!

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Yes! Horizon's 25th Anniversary "birthday celebration" livery!

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The paint's starting to show its age, but still so much better than a plain white livery!

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Under the wing (again).

Boarding through the same back door, I said hi to the same flight attendants, took the same seat, and was joined by the same seat-mate. The seat back pockets were the same as the previous plane. The safety demo and push-back procedure were (what a surprise) the same. Luckily, this time the before-taxi checklist went more smoothly and we taxied down to the runway.


Slightly more colorful view from the window this time.

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Lining up on 16L (for real this time!)

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Wheels coming up, headed to Portland.

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Gear up.

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How many heavies can you count?

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Climbing into the very hazy skies.

The wheels had barely retracted into their wells before the flight attendants were up and about preparing their carts for service. I was surprised that the flight attendants were attempting service on this short flight...they seemed well aware of the short duration that they had available to serve 74 passengers.

The skies over Washington and Oregon were grey and hazy, a deck of clouds hovered just above our cruising altitude. As we neared the Oregon border turbulence started to really pick up. When bottles started bouncing off of the carts the Flight Attendants decided to pack up and strap in for the remainder of the flight. One of the two FAs stumbled and decided to crouch in the aisle with her cart, waiting out the worst of the bumps.

Just as both FAs got to their jumpseats the flight deck came on with a "helpful" announcement asking them to be seated due to the turbulence. From my seat I could hear as one of the FAs muttered an exasperated and slightly resentful "Thanks for the heads up..." The pilots went on to explain that the bumps were quite unexpected, and that they rarely experience rough air with an overcast deck of stratus clouds like those in the sky today.

Unfortunately the bumpy skies meant that I wouldn't have a chance to try Horizon's selected microbrew of the month; I would have to wait until the trip back.

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Mt. Hood, poking into the clouds above our altitude.

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Very bumpy, making it hard to take photos...

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Gear down, taking a scenic tour of suburban Portland.

The bumps kept up all the way to the ground. On final I decided I was going to try my hand at the iconic "smoking landing gear" shot as the Dash-8's wheels touched the ground. On short final I switched my camera into continuous mode and started clicking away. My camera kept clicking as we kept floating...all the way down the runway. Just as I thought to myself "This is ridiculous" and put my camera away we slammed down to the pavement. All I managed were about 25 photos of Portland's runway edge lighting...

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Short Final.

After a very brief taxi we pulled up to the gate. The weather in Portland was beautiful, the sun was just starting to poke through the clouds, so I took a couple last shots of my very colorful ride!

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Stepping out the back door; slightly better weather in Portland than Seattle.

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One last look at the most colorful plane I've ever ridden on.

From the airport I met up with some family members, hopped in a rental car, and drove a few hours further South to Newport, a small town on the Oregon coast where I'd be spending the next few days.

For the first few days in Oregon I did absolutely nothing. Having a vacation was nice...

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Not a bad sunset at the end of a long day of flying.

A few days after I arrived I decided to get off my ass and look at some airplanes! The Evergreen Aviation Museum is located in McMinnville, Oregon; about half way between Portland and Newport, in the heart of Oregon's wine country. I managed to convince a few of my relatives to tag along with the promise of wine tasting afterwards.

The Evergreen museum is actually built on the site of a Vineyard. Much of the museum is surrounded by grape vines, as it was more difficult to remove the vines than it was to continue to let them grow. The museum sells the wine, branded as "Spruce Goose Pinot" - not exactly top-notch wine, but a must-have on the wine rack of any aviation buff. The Evergreen Museum is probably the only aviation museum in the world to feature wine tasting in the cafeteria, and to sell full bottles of wine alongside typical museum cafeteria fare. Evergreen is probably also the only aviation museum in the world to feature a water slide which originates in the belly of a classic 747, but I didn't spend any time on that side of the park, choosing instead to browse the dozens upon dozens of rare aircraft.

Evergreen's aircraft collection is very, very diverse. In addition to the famous Spruce Goose, Evergreen is home to a large collection of helicopters, vintage military aircraft, rockets, and even a couple of MiGs. Evergreen's collection seemed to be out-growing the space available in its two large display halls, making it quite difficult to capture images of the larger aircraft (i.e. the Spruce Goose).

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Even more airplanes! Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum.

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Apollo space capsule, hanging from a Sikorsky Sea King.

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The FJ-3 Fury is a cool plane, but I think the more interesting attraction is in the background: the Hughes H-4 Hercules!

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Plenty of cool planes outside the museum too; Northrop F-5 Tiger II.

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Not very common in the US, Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum.

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Convair F-106 Delta Dart.

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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.

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*starships were meant to fly...* Beechcraft BE-2000 Starship.

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Wow, not many of these left, I'm surprised they've pushed it back into the corner like this. Sikorsky CH-37 Mojave.

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Nice; Republic F-105 Thunderchief.

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Sitting gate-guard in front of the museum: Lockheed P-2V Neptune.

While I had been exploring the aircraft displays my Aunt and Uncle had been chatting up the employees at the wine-tasting stand and had picked out our next destination for the day, a vineyard a few miles down the road towards Newport.

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Not a bad view at all; stopping at the Youngsberg Hill vineyard.


The first of a few wine-tastings.

After a few glasses of wine and some excellent cheese at the top of the picturesque Youngsberg Hill it was just about time to head home for the day. Time sure flies when you're looking at airplanes and drinking wine...

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Another nice sunset after a long day of airplaning.

Returning home I found out that my brother had booked a fishing trip departing early the next morning. After just a couple hours of sleep I headed down to the Newport docks for a morning of fishing and crabbing on the Pacific. Despite being the middle of August the early morning air was absolutely frigid, a pleasant change from the oppressive humid Florida summer I had come from!

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Up early to catch some fish!

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Motoring out into the Pacific, under the Yaquima Bay Bridge and US Route 101.

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Clear of the bridge, heading out to sea!

Once we reached open water we dropped some Dungeness crab traps before casting lines to fish.

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That sun feels good! Getting ready to drop some crab traps.

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Setting up to catch some fish. I pulled

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: KPWMSpotter
Posted 2012-10-20 15:29:20 and read 8375 times.

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Setting up to catch some fish. I pulled up four rockfish, but let a Cod get away...

Between myself, my brother, and my Aunt we returned home with eight rock fish and 30 Dungeness crab. Needless to say, we ate seafood for the rest of the week.

Soon it was time to return home to Florida.

A few months earlier I had booked my flight home on American. My past experiences with American have been unpleasant, but I couldn't turn down AA's PDX-MCO fare which was nearly $100 cheaper than the nearest competition. My original booked routing was PDX-SEA-DFW-MCO. About two weeks before departure I checked AA.com to confirm my seat assignments. I found not only different seats, but entirely different flights altogether. AA has apparently suspended its SEA-DFW redeye and decided that it was perfectly reasonable to rebook me with an eleven hour layover in Seattle and arrive in Orlando nearly a day later than planned. Also, American had decided that it was perfectly acceptable to neglect to call or Email to tell me about this change...

I called AA's reservations line in early August and spoke to a surprisingly helpful agent who rebooked me without charge to fly PDX-SEA-MIA-MCO, arriving in MCO a half hour earlier than originally planned! On top of that, I was rebooked on a full Y fare, giving me access to the choice exit row seats! For a few weeks I was genuinely excited to be flying on AA.

...that excitement promptly ended as I packed my things in Oregon for the trip back. Tropical Storm Isaac was aimed at Miami, making landfall at the exact same time my flight was scheduled to land. I called AA's reservations line five times in the two days leading up to my flight. I attempted to be rebooked through ORD, DFW, JFK, on Alaska flights through SFO or LAX...I gave AA about two dozen valid itineraries which would keep me out of Miami, but I was stonewalled. Even though Miami was under a tropical storm advisory, AA was unable to change my itinerary. Their excuse? "Your PDX-SEA flight is not affected by the hurricane, therefore we cannot change your itinerary." Brilliant.

Having no other options, I packed my things and headed to the Portland airport, hoping that my flight would still depart as scheduled. I spent a day sightseeing in Portland (a very nice downtown) before hopping on the light rail link to the airport. (The savvy viewer may note that some of these pictures weren't taken in August...I've recycled a few shots from a trip I took in June...)

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Back up to Portland before my flight (as seen from the Portland Aerial Tram).

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Onboard Portland's Aerial Tram back down to the river and downtown.

http://imageshack.us/a/img51/9025/o89p.jpg
Downtown, Pioneer Square and courthouse.

http://imageshack.us/a/img521/1155/o90r.jpg
Portland has excellent light rail coverage throughout the city.

http://imageshack.us/a/img833/7118/o91ej.jpg
The now-famous "Vodoo Donuts", honestly it wasn't worth the half hour wait...

Having not heard anything from American, I headed to the airport and hoped for the best.

http://imageshack.us/a/img831/3676/o92oi.jpg
Stepping off the light rail at the airport.


KPDX - KSEA
Flight # QX 2470
Equipment:
Bombardier DHC-8-Q402 (N428QX)
Scheduled Departure: 19:30 Actual Departure: 19:25
Scheduled Arrival: 20:25 Actual Arrival: 20:05



My first flight of the day was operated by Horizon. American's kiosks wouldn't process my check-in request and spat back a generic "check in with operating carrier" message. I was hoping to speak with an AA employee about my SEA-MIA flight, but apparently they had already gone home for the day. I checked in with Horizon without difficulty and headed through security.

http://imageshack.us/a/img255/894/o93w.jpg
American's completely deserted check-in counter.

Through security I opened up my phone and called AA's flight status hotline. Punching in my flight number I heard a robotic voice calmly state "I'm sorry, but this flight has been cancelled..." I almost threw my phone at the ground while muttering some expletives about AA's customer service. I dialed AA's reservations hotline and started walking towards my gate. At this point it was exactly two hours before my scheduled departure to SEA.

Long story short, I sat on hold with AA for one hour and thirty five minutes before reaching a reservations agent.

While on hold I approached an Alaska/Horizon customer service representative and explained my situation. Since my reservation was with American she wasn't able to make any changes herself, but generously volunteered to try calling AA reservations for me. Apparently Alaska's gate agents don't pass to the front of the line, so she was stuck on hold as well. Using her gate computer she was able to find me a couple of alternative routes on different airlines with seats available. I thanked her for the advice and continued on hold with AA.

When I finally reached an AA reservations agent she was absolutely useless. First she couldn't book me on a different airline, then there were no seats, then she needed a manager's approval to change my flight, then finally she reached the conclusion that there were no seats on any airlines into Orlando and that I should just fly to Seattle and figure it out there. Again, wonderful customer service...

The one bright spot in this ordeal was Alaska/Horizon's gate agents, who were continuously helpful (even "fact checking" the AA agent's statements about seat availability using their gate computers). Even though I wasn't really their customer, they certainly did everything in their power to get me on a flight. As my Seattle flight's departure approached I finally gave up with AA and decided to deal with it in Seattle where there would hopefully be a real person to talk to.

http://imageshack.us/a/img341/5748/o94y.jpg
Horizon's gaggle of planes lined up at the A Concourse.


Lots of "Seattle Shuttle" branding, probably in response to SeaPort's former competition on the route.

http://imageshack.us/a/img534/4855/o96c.jpg
Apparently this whole gate area is devoted to Horizon's PDX-SEA flights.

While on the phone I noticed a familiar colorful plane pull up to the gate. At any other time I would have been ecstatic to ride on Horizon's 25th anniversary plane, but I kind of wanted to log a new registration. When boarding was called I walked outside to see a plain white Alaska/Horizon branded Q400 waiting for me. (yay?)

http://imageshack.us/a/img839/6821/o97p.jpg
My ride for this trip, not so colorful this time...

This flight was quite empty. Even with a dozen standby passengers accommodated the plane was only about half full. With such a light load the boarding process went quickly. Of course with my seat at the back I chose to take another stroll under the wing to the back door.

http://imageshack.us/a/img526/6879/o98g.jpg
Under the wing!

http://imageshack.us/a/img228/8831/o99z.jpg
Headed for the back door of course.


Headed up the stairs.


Slightly different view this time; back two rows further than last time.

http://imageshack.us/a/img267/7159/o102b.jpg
Sun setting over the ramp.


The setting sun is glowing under the plane...

The Portland airport was almost deserted as we pushed back. Between pushback and takeoff I don't think we stopped once.

http://imageshack.us/a/img442/557/o104e.jpg
Off the ground after a very brief ground roll.

http://imageshack.us/a/img715/2039/o105n.jpg
Note the fuselage reflecting off of the massive engine nacelle.

http://imageshack.us/a/img269/2274/o106.jpg
Downtown Portland in the distance.

http://imageshack.us/a/img339/7594/o107.jpg
Bright sun shining through the windows while turning to the North.

http://imageshack.us/a/img198/2172/o108.jpg
Briefly up to a cruising altitude of 17,000ft.

The flight attendants were again quick to begin drink service, but they weren't quite quick enough. By the time the drink cart reached my row at the back we were already descending into Seattle. I managed to get my free drink this time, but it wasn't quite as advertised. Horizon's drinks rotate each month; August's beer was supposed to be a Pyramid summer blonde. Apparently September had come early and September's IPA had been loaded. I'm not a big fan of IPAs, but hey, I'm not complaining about a free drink.

For the first time in a long time I was asked to show my ID when I ordered my drink. The middle aged couple sitting in front of me turned around to the flight attendant and asked "Hey, why didn't you card us? You think we look old?!"

http://imageshack.us/a/img40/2484/o109.jpg
Turning inbound to Seattle (only about 15 minutes after takeoff).

http://imageshack.us/a/img824/807/o110.jpg
Snack service. Today's local microbrew was a Red Hook IPA.

The flight attendants rushed to collect everyone's cups and napkins as we made a straight in approach to Seattle's Runway 34L.

http://imageshack.us/a/img688/7358/o111k.jpg
On final over the Tacoma Harbor.


Short final.

http://imageshack.us/a/img28/2103/o113.jpg
The sun ducked behind the Olympic mountains as we taxied in to SEA.

http://imageshack.us/a/img27/6906/o114m.jpg
Stepping off the plane, right where I started a week prior.

Still not having a flight to Florida I headed straight for American Airlines' gates in Seattle. Unfortunately AA's gates are at the far opposite end of the terminal, so it was quite a hike. Fortunately I happened to find an AA gate agent just finishing up for the night. She first tried to direct me to exit the secure area and talk to the ticket counters, but eventually decided to take a look for me.

http://imageshack.us/a/img12/8538/o115.jpg
SEA's large central atrium area, lit up nicely in the early evening.


While searching online in Portland I had found myself an itinerary for sale on jetBlue, connecting through Boston. I asked the gate agent to rebook me on that itinerary. She started processing my request, but hit some sort of snag on the BOS-MCO segment. I was prepared with a backup itinerary, but the gate agent stopped me mid-sentence. "Hold on...you're going to MCO, right? I don't believe this, but my computer says there are seats on Alaska's direct flight!" The gate agent was as much in disbelief as I was, but she managed to print out a ticket number and confirmation. She told me "Don't mention you were re-booked, don't say anything about needing a seat assignment, just go check in with Alaska, this might work!"

I took her advice and jogged all the way back across the terminal to Alaska's gate for Orlando. Somehow I had just been booked onto a very oversold flight and it had worked. Soon I had a boarding pass and was on my way to Orlando! This resolution was sort of an anticlimax for me. After all the drama with reservations I was prepared for a multi-stop multi-airline hodgepodge of flights and was sort of looking forward to it. Even though Alaska's flight was the most convenient for most sane travelers...it didn't make for a very exciting end to my trip report.  
http://imageshack.us/a/img26/1355/o94b.jpg
The various ways to get from PDX to MCO on AA. I ended up on the most boring one...


KSEA - KMCO
Flight # AS 0010
Equipment:
Boeing 737-890 (N579AS)
Scheduled Departure: 21:45 Actual Departure: 21:55
Scheduled Arrival: 06:30(+1) Actual Arrival: 06:15(+1)



Orlando was still well-clear of tropical storm Isaac and Alaska's flight boarded on time. I was quite surprised to be assigned an exit-row seat, but when I boarded I found out why. The exit row seat was in the first of two rows on the 737-800, the non-reclining row. Despite having plenty of leg-room the seat-cushion was almost nonexistent and the straight-up seat back wasn't exactly ideal for a red eye flight. At least I was on a plane...

http://imageshack.us/a/img20/7881/o116.jpg
Not quite what I expected to be taking me to MCO, another Alaska B737-890, N570AS.


Lots of legroom, but...

http://imageshack.us/a/img210/2690/o130.jpg
No recline in this row... No surprise this was the only seat left.


Someone put the window on upside-down!

My seatmates turned out to be an elderly couple who were very impressed by their exit row seats. Their amazement lessened slightly as they realized that there was no recline.

http://imageshack.us/a/img21/513/o119.jpg
Slightly different interior styling on this aircraft, missing the embroidered Alaskan style cabin partition.

Push-back was delayed by about fifteen minutes due to some late arriving passengers. An impressive line of landing lights streamed into Seattle as we waited at the gate, but the airport was all but deserted when we finally pushed back and taxied to the runway.

http://imageshack.us/a/img209/6103/o120.jpg
Lots of landing lights lined up for arrival.

Our takeoff was long and sluggish; again, the route was again pushing the limits of a full 737-800's range. I caught a brief glimpse of the lights of Seattle before disappearing into the dark clouds. I managed to coax myself to sleep briefly, but awoke just in time for the snack service. The in- flight service was just about the same as it had been on the flight out. Most people seemed interested in sleeping so there was no secondary or tertiary snack service this time.

http://imageshack.us/a/img846/7445/o131.jpg
Either it's very dark, or someone turned up the moon...

http://imageshack.us/a/img707/6139/o132e.jpg
Simple snack service this time. Browsing the FlyerTalk forums, I'd read all of the A.Net TRs already...

I tried to get back to sleep, but my seat just wasn't very comfortable. Luckily I had won a free GoGo flight pass on my previous segment so I simply browsed the internet for the entire flight. By the time we reached Orlando I was quite ready to be home in bed...


Still just as dark outside, approaching a sleepy Orlando.

I stumbled off of the plane in a zombie-like state. The sun was still a few minutes away from rising and as far as my body was concerned I should have been asleep.

http://imageshack.us/a/img821/1767/o134.jpg
Finally caught the registration! Still too dark for decent photos though...

http://imageshack.us/a/img51/6902/o135.jpg
Hopping on the tram back to the terminal, my last flight for a while...

I hopped on a bus back to Daytona Beach (I even managed to catch an earlier bus than originally planned!) and promptly went to bed, ready for a long semester back at school. After all the drama I'd gone through on AA's reservations line I was still a little surprised to be stepping off a plane in Orlando, but hey, it worked out in the end!


In Conclusion:

Alaska Airlines: Alaska and Horizon made an excellent first impression. Despite the mechanical delay on the SEA-PDX segment, the overall delay was very short and it was handled well by the Alaska staff. On the return, Alaska/Horizon's gate agents in Portland went well above and beyond what was required of them. Alaska's onboard service is about on par with most US domestic carriers, but the little touches (like the fresh cookies and multiple beverage services) certainly left a good impression in my mind. I'll certainly consider Alaska again when I need to reach the West Coast.

American Airlines: American...well, American sucked. Between un-announced schedule changes, being stonewalled by reservations, and not being informed of my flight's cancellation, well, I'll do my best to not return to American Airlines in the future...



I hope you've all enjoyed reading my report, comments are always appreciated! Unfortunately I've hunkered down for my last year of school and don't have any interesting trips on the immediate horizon. My next trip will probably be home for Thanksgiving, MCO-PHL-PWM on US Airways' 767-200! Until then, hope you've enjoyed reading!


Past Reports for your reading pleasure...
DL To Deutschland, Munich And Düsseldorf In Y & J (by KPWMSpotter Sep 8 2012 in Trip Reports)
Southern Hospitality? Georgia Skies C208, ATL-AHN (by KPWMSpotter Jul 9 2012 in Trip Reports)
Mr. Porter Flying Porter! EWR-YTZ On PD + DL Y/F (by KPWMSpotter Jun 18 2012 in Trip Reports)
To Kansas Pt. 2: SLN Spotting & ICT-DAB On DL (by KPWMSpotter Jun 1 2012 in Trip Reports)
To Kansas Pt. 1 On DL, F9, And SeaPort's PC-12! (by KPWMSpotter May 31 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Domestic US Sampling MCO-PWM-DAB On CO & US (by KPWMSpotter Apr 12 2012 in Trip Reports)
FRA On DL Business Elite + Amtrak & DL Domestic Y (by KPWMSpotter Jan 6 2012 in Trip Reports)
Maine For Thanksgiving On US And Cape Air! (by KPWMSpotter Nov 29 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-AMS/DUS-ATL, DL F + ICE Train And Köln (by KPWMSpotter Nov 1 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-PWM-DTW-ATL, DL Y + New PWM Terminal (by KPWMSpotter Oct 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-SLC-SUN & Back DL F, Flying The Brasilia (by KPWMSpotter Sep 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
PWM-MCO, STL-MSP-DTW-PWM +NIFA (LONG!) (by KPWMSpotter Aug 10 2009 in Trip Reports)
MCO-JFK-PWM On JetBlue (by KPWMSpotter May 1 2009 in Trip Reports)
BOS-LHR-BOS + Eurostar (Long/Pics!) (by KPWMSpotter Mar 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
DAB-ATL-PWM & Return On DL (+Pics) (by KPWMSpotter Jan 7 2009 in Trip Reports)
MCO-ORD, MDW-MHT, PWM-MCO (pics) (by KPWMSpotter Nov 27 2008 in Trip Reports)
Flying Into A Hurricane: PWM-MCO W. B6 (pics) (by KPWMSpotter Aug 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics) (by KPWMSpotter Jun 25 2007 in Trip Reports)
PWM-EWR-SEA-IAD-PWM On CO/UA (by KPWMSpotter Dec 25 2006 in Trip Reports)

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: 767747
Posted 2012-10-21 08:09:07 and read 7650 times.

Another great report, KPWMSpotter!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
My seatmate turned out to be quite a character. The first words out of his mouth as he sat down were "mind if I smoke?" Before I had time to utter an "uhh...yes?" he had whipped out a package of chewing tobacco and was stuffing a pinch in his mouth. While I searched for a passage in the in-flight magazine stating Alaska's policy on tobacco products, he introduced himself as a welder headed up to the Alaska oil fields. Apparently he had missed his flight the previous night after getting drunk in the bar and had been re-booked. I almost had an empty middle seat, instead I got stuck with this character...

Wow, what a seat mate!  
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
complimentary blueberry almond cookie (very tasty.)

This does sound good, and better than the norm ...

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
I found not only different seats, but entirely different flights altogether. AA has apparently suspended its SEA-DFW redeye and decided that it was perfectly reasonable to rebook me with an eleven hour layover in Seattle and arrive in Orlando nearly a day later than planned. Also, American had decided that it was perfectly acceptable to neglect to call or Email to tell me about this change...

This has to be one of the most frustrating things an airline can do. And they wonder why some people HATE to travel. I've had this happen so many times, but luckily I can usually catch the change before too long as I'll keep checking my itinerary.

Best,

Matthew

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-10-21 12:12:33 and read 7465 times.

Hey

Great trip report, thanks for sharing it with us! Alaska airlines seems to a good carrier.
Nice to see you got a special livery due to circumstances (I had it a few years ago as well due to the rain in PHL I got Delta's Habitat for Humanity 767)
Too bad to hear about American Airlines mishap, definate not a good example at al.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
(you'd have to go to Siberia to find a longer "domestic" segment)

Or Paris-Reunion! 12hrs and sill officially being a domestic flight.

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: IAHFLYR
Posted 2012-10-23 06:19:45 and read 7063 times.

Excellent TR and pictures. I really enjoyed the pictures along the coast and fishing boat from Newport. We go there every fall and leave in a couple of days, looks like we need to get out on a fishing vessel!  

Thanks for sharing.

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: adamspotter
Posted 2012-10-27 11:33:32 and read 6592 times.

Hi KPWMSpotter,

Another great report with many nice pictures, thanks for sharing!
Will be flying Alaska Airlines for the first time in January (MCO-SAN) myself so it's great to get an insight on them. Quite impressed with their (customer) service, well done AS!
Bad customer service from AA but good to see you made it to MCO anyway!
Great destination pictures too especially of that museum, it sure has some great looking aircraft!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
The TSA had some trouble with the flimsy receipt (they couldn't find the airline name printed on it - they thought "Alaska" was my destination

Seriously? Very Very unprofessional IMHO

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
This is food?..

Fast food 
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Alaska's Alaskan network; not as extensive as it once was but still impressive.

Want to get some alaska domestic flying done sometime!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
The players were brought through the cabin prior to the first snack service. Since I had my iPad I decided to purchase internet service and catch up on reading some Trip Reports instead.

Good choice  
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Yes! Horizon's 25th Anniversary "birthday celebration" livery!

Wow, congrats on catching this colorful and great looking livery!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
How many heavies can you count?

10

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Not a bad sunset at the end of a long day of flying.

Beautiful!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
The middle aged couple sitting in front of me turned around to the flight attendant and asked "Hey, why didn't you card us? You think we look old?!"

:D

Thanks once again for sharing!

cheers,

Brendan

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: MH017
Posted 2012-10-28 03:29:22 and read 6418 times.

Hi KPWMSpotter,

Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful TR !

It confirms very well what I've heard all along of AS: one of the best airlines of the US (this includes Horizon)...

Excellent substitude on your SEA-PDX flight (aircraft-wise) !!!

Should try AS very soon (and forget about AA)...

Gr.,

MH017/Pieter...

Topic: RE: The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return)
Username: KPWMSpotter
Posted 2012-10-28 18:58:47 and read 6256 times.

Thanks for the comments guys!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 2):
This has to be one of the most frustrating things an airline can do. And they wonder why some people HATE to travel. I've had this happen so many times, but luckily I can usually catch the change before too long as I'll keep checking my itinerary.

Yep, I do the same thing. I sure would have been disappointed to show up at the airport and find that I would be arriving home a day later than I had planned on...

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
Nice to see you got a special livery due to circumstances (I had it a few years ago as well due to the rain in PHL I got Delta's Habitat for Humanity 767)

Lucky! I haven't even *seen* the Habitat 767, let alone ridden on it!

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 4):
We go there every fall and leave in a couple of days, looks like we need to get out on a fishing vessel!

Hope you enjoy your trip! Be prepared to eat lots of seafood if you go fishing. I ended up feeding the entire house with crab-stuffed whitefish when I got back.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 5):
Seriously? Very Very unprofessional IMHO

Yes. Still not as bad as my trip on Georgia Skies, the TSA agents accused me of forging a boarding pass and "inventing" an airline name...

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 5):
Want to get some alaska domestic flying done sometime!

Agreed!

Quoting MH017 (Reply 6):
It confirms very well what I've heard all along of AS: one of the best airlines of the US (this includes Horizon)...

Yes, Alaska certainly seemed to be on top of its game. It seems like the smaller carriers are usually have the more pleasant onboard experiences.


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