Here is just a short report on my recent flight on another great Alaska Airlines inaugural flight. As I say, Alaska Airlines and Jetblue Airways both offer great inaugural flights, and there is no doubt that Alaska Airlines is the most generous when it comes to inaugural souvenirs and really throws great parties, and to my surprise, the Oakland to Maui launch is just as great as any Seattle launch, and if not, better than expected!
Here is the flight information:
November 9, 2009
Alaska Airlines Flight 881
OAK-OGG Lv0745 Arr1105 Boeing 737-800 Winglet N585AS “Lei”
I arrived at OAK about two hours prior to arrival and the morning was quiet outside, but busy at the Alaska Airlines counters. The counters are all decorated with balloons, Hawaiian floral arrangement and staffs were wearing the Hawaiian uniforms, as well as special customs to celebrate the flight. The agent was friendly and she was just as excited as me, as she knew that I was heading to Maui on this special flight. On my way to the security line, I saw a special Alaska Airlines desk checking in press, as well as the special Hawaiian dance troupe.
I arrived at gate 6 within a few minutes, as the security line was pretty quiet this morning. Both Gate 4 and 6 were blocked off (for the next day as well, as the Kona inaugural would take place the next day) with a huge buffet table setup, as well as a small band and large dance floor with Hawaiian statues everywhere. Soon around 6am, the table was all set up with juices, bottled water from Athena, coffee, breakfast pastries, cupcakes with Hawaiian paper umbrellas, fortune cookies sponsored by the newly opened Chinese fast food joint at T-1, Silver Dragon Café, as well as sliced fruit, tropical fruits like small bananas, and Macadamia Nut flavored chocolate kisses. The highlight was a cake made like an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800. The staffs were very careful, as the cake was quite fragile, but spectacular. Another Alaska Airlines staff was also making personalized baggage tag for all of us, who were on the inaugural flight. Soon the Hawaiian music started with multiple Hula Dances performance. Then we had the usual speeches that were made by officials from both Alaska Airlines and Oakland Airport authority, which were definitely looking for an airline to replace the great operation by Aloha Airlines. Around 7am, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony and then my name and another passenger were paged to the podium. I was curious and soon the staff told me that I would have the honor to be the first passenger to board the flight to Maui this morning. After a quick photo and a short chat with the Alaska Airlines staff and the completion of the blessing ceremony by two Hawaiian priests, I entered this freshly cleaned Boeing 737-800 at 7:03am.
The F/As were all experienced (everyone of them had over twenty years of flying with Alaska Airlines) and excellent as we expected from Alaska, and later I found out that this Oakland trips were very popular among senior F/As, as most of them would have two overnights at Maui and/or Kona. The flight flew to Maui and Kona in an alternative pattern, so most F/As would get two overnights at either Maui or Kona! So you should all expect some of our favorite experienced staffs on these Oakland to Maui/Kona, as well as the San Jose to Maui/Kona flights next year. Mai Tai was served to first class passengers as the pre-takeoff beverages, and excitements definitely filled up the air despite these early hours. The flight went out full (as well as the inaugural to Kona the next day).
Door was closed early at 7:38am, and ground staffs and special guests were taking pictures in front of the airplane, as well as the special Alaska Airlines photographer. We took off from R/W29 at 7:50am, and flying time this morning was five hours and thirty-two minutes, longer than typical, as the headwind was quite strong. Even we took off on time, we would arrive late. The flight was pretty straightforward, as we heading off the Pacific Ocean. We cruised at 34,000 feet initially and then climbing to 36,000feet a few hours later, followed by our final cruising attitude at 38,000feet.
For coach passengers, they got a free breakfast this morning, as well as the typical complimentary Mai Tai and/or POG punch prior to arrival.
Here is the full menu for first class passengers:
Good Morning and Welcome Aboard Alaska Airlines
First Class Breakfast
Fresh Seasonal Fruit Bowl
Warm Fresh Pastries
Choices of Entrees
Omelette with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
Chicken Apple Sausage
Cheese Crepes with Pineapple Sauce
Applewood Smoked Bacon
The fruit plate had some cut melon, orange, blueberries and strawberries, and the choice of pastries include croissants, Apple Danish and Strawberry jam covered scones. Bags of Macadamia nuts were passed out around 11:25am PST, as well as more Mai Tai at 12:10pm. I sort of wish Alaska Airlines would have kept the mid-flight dessert service in first class. It is definitely nicer than a small bag of Macadamia nuts. I hope they can bring back a proper light snack on these long Hawaiian flights. Just wishful thinking!
A special ceremony took place mid-flight, as the F/A proudly paraded the whole cabin with Alaska Airlines’ latest award – the JD Power Award that Alaska had won for the past two years.
The flight soon came to an end, as we began our descent at 10:54am Hawaiian local time. We landed on R/W02 at 11:22am, and parked at gate 29 at 11:26am. Local staffs were handing out more leis, as well as more Hawaiian Hula dance in the background. Bags came out very quickly here at Maui and it was a definitely a nice end to the flight.
I am honored to be part of this inaugural flight, and have already booked the San Jose to Maui inaugural flight.
Thank you Alaska Airlines, the staffs at Oakland, as well as the four wonderful F/As, for excellent memory!
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7057 posts, RR: 76
Reply 1, posted (5 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6518 times:
great report with many nice pictures! It's quite impressive how AS celebrates such inaugural flights.
As for the F/As: I flew on AS for the first time some weeks ago (SEA-SJC) and was very surprised about the nice crew. I also liked the 738's interior (e.g. seats, colors, carpet). Too bad they don't have any TV screens.
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1982 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (5 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6372 times:
No official name at all...
Alaska Airlines just puts this "lei" on the eskimo tail on a number of Boeing 737-800s dedicated on the Hawaiian routes. It is just a personal note on my flight logs that it is a AS 73H with "lei" on the livery/tail.
I wholeheartedly agree that an in seat entertainment system is what missing on AS flights... the Dig E players (portable players) are just no match to Jetblue and CO's Direct TV, or the advance multiple entertainment system featured on Virgin America and Delta! However, Alaska is a relatively small airline and costs are too high for PTV now.