Flight: AS 287 LAX-SEA
Aircraft: a shiny new 737-900
After arriving at LAX via Super Shuttle, my b/f and I headed over to the Alaska check-in desk at Terminal 3. For 4:30 on a Thursday evening, the check-in area was more crowded than I would have expected. However, the lines moved quickly. Prior to 9/11, I would have used Alaska's e-ticket machines or web check-in, but my b/f insisted that we buy paper tickets. It didn't make much sense to me, but I guess he likes to have something to hold on to.
Personally, I think I'll stick to e-tickets from now on...(that's your cue to read on...).
Anyway, at check-in, I inquired about upgrade possibilities. Ya see, both me and my b/f both have this AS Platinum Visa Card, and the card includes a bunch of perks, including upgrade certs. So, anyway, the agent glanced at her computer screen, and then looked up at us with a wry expression...
"Looks like we have only one seat available in First..."
I decided to let my boyfriend sort this one out, and he did indeed mull over the situation for sometime before coming to a decision (a bit too long, in my opinion).
With that dilemma solved, and a boarding pass for seat 3D in hand, we headed to the gate. Prior to heading up the escalator, a security guard checked my ID, and at security, agents checked our tickets. The lines at security were negligible, and apart from the laptop screening, everything seemed about the same.
Our flight was called around 6:20 for the 6:42 departure, and agents checked ID upon boarding. Once onboard, I plopped down into seat 3D. All 16 First Class seats did end up filled, but the coach load was only about 50%. We pushed back on-time and took off runway 24L around 6:55. Flying time to Seattle was 2hrs 10 minutes.
After takeoff, we received warm honey roasted almonds and our choice of beverage. Dinner was served in three courses, starting with a salad and warm sourdough roll. For the entree, there was a choice of tortellini or seared beef tenderloins. I had the beef, which was pretty decent. The dessert was an apple torte. Apart from the plastic knife, we received the usual linens, china and glassware.
After dinner had been served I decided to pay a little visit back to coach. As the curtain was left open, I was afraid he'd be in agony, sitting back there watching First Class passengers have a nice nosh and sip wine. I ventured back to the coach cabin, half expecting some air marshall to pop out of his seat and tackle me. But, nothing dramatic occurred, and I sat down in the seat next to him for a little while. When the flight attendant came by to collect the coach meal trays, she gave me a dirty look as though to say "who the h*ll are you," but I explained to her what had happened, and she let the matter rest.
Anyway, I eventually returned back up front, pulled up my headrest wings and dosed off. I must say, I really like the new First Class seats on Alaska. They are much more comfortable than the old ones, and I appreciate that Alaska still uses genuine leather, unlike most carriers which have switched to cloth.
As far as the 737-900 is concerned, I really enjoyed flying on the aircraft. The plane was very smooth and quiet on takeoff, and the cabin seemed very spacious (probably due to the lack of TV monitors dangling from the ceiling).
After landing, our bags arrived downstairs rather quickly, and we headed off to the Woodmark Hotel on Lake Washington. Oh, and how romantic it was... But, I must remember not get off on anymore tangents...
Flight: AS 222 SEA-LAX
Aircraft: Some boring old 737-400
I wish I could say this trip was as painless as my flight up. We arrived at the airport around 5:30 AM for our 7:32 AM flight, and found a check-in line stretching from here to eternity and back. Undoubtedly, some passengers did end up missing their flights. I told my b/f that he could go on and buy his paper tickets, but that there was no way I would go through this again. Finally, 90 minutes later and my bag several kicks for the worse, we reached the front of the line. Bad news about First Class...every seat full. So, we had to make due with our adjacent seats in coach.
We headed up to the new N/D security checkpoints, and stood in line for at least 20 minutes. Apart from the line, security stuff was pretty similar to LAX.
Anyway, with aching feet and sweaty faces, we finally reached our gate to find the door to the aircraft closed. A number of other late arriving passengers were standing there looking forlorn and battle weary. Finally, the agent agreed to reopen the door after conferring with the flight crew, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Unlike the other times I have flown out of SEA, the tarmac was not at all crowded, and there was no wait for takeoff. Once aloft, breakfast was served. It consisted of a ham and cheese omelet with sausage links and potatoes, some diced fruit, and a warm peach muffin. There may have been another option, but I can't recall for sure. Anyway, the entree was perfectly decent, and the fruit was fresh. Beverages were offered twice, and the flight was smooth. And for once, I did not mind the tight accommodations of coach...
AS 485 SNA-SEA
Aircraft: another boring 737-400
Last evening, I headed back to Seattle, but this time for business. As it turns out, I did not pick a very good day to travel, and in hindsight, should have chosen to travel today. But, c'est la vie. Fortunately, the security breaches at SNA, SEA, MEM and god knows where else did not affect my flight, nor did the stormy weather all up and down the West Coast. Frankly, I can't figure how I got so lucky, but I'm not going to complain.
I arrived at SNA around 4:00 PM to find some very long lines at the Southwest ticket counter, and tons of delays on the WN board. I thought to myself that things must be pretty screwed up for Southwest to having four hour delays. As far as Alaska was concerned, some flights were listed as on-time while others were delayed. Passengers for a flight to Portland were actually being bussed to LAX. I guess I can understand that the lack of gate space at SNA is an issue, but quite frankly, I would have been pretty pissed if I were on that flight.
Because of my last SEA experience, I had an e-ticket this time, and I checked-in online in the comfort of my own apartment. So, I got to miss out on all the fun at the ticket counter, and headed to the fallout zone they call security. This time, I was frisked, and I can tell you, it wasn't a pleasant experience. I hope the feds are planning to require security agents to use mouthwash and wear deodorant from now on...
Anyway, when I arrived at the gate, my fellow passengers were already clogging the doorway in a very un-Alaskan manner. After everyone was corralled, we wasted no time in gettin on our way. The 737-400 wasn't completely full, presumably due to load restrictions out of SNA.
Breaks off and up, up and away we went. The dinner cart came by a short while later. Back in coach, we got a warm sandwich, pasta salad and a cookie. Certainly less food than between LAX-SEA, but I suppose they have to draw the line somewhere. More drinks came by later, and we arrived in Seattle only 5 minutes late.
Anyway, very nice service from Alaska on the whole, but if you do fly with them, please go with an e-ticket! Not only will you save ten dollars, but you'll also save a lot of time in line.
Oh and guys, remember...ladies like to fly First Class!