I recently had to tie up some loose ends left from my former job, and headed on a quick business trip to Anchorage and Chicago. I do live in the Bay Area, but I've been staying in LA recently to keep my mother company during her final days.
I redeemed 10,000 Alaska miles to upgrade from Y to F on both the LAX-ANC and ANC-ORD segments. The 10,000 miles gives you two upgrade coupons, and they work on ANY Alaska flight. Considering that both of my flights were over five hours long, this was really a great deal. From ORD-LAX, I flew on American. The service on all three flights was good, although the ANC-ORD flight offered the most in-flight service.
AS 105: LAX-ANC 737-700
Arrives: 1:30 (ON-TIME)
I headed to gate 30, and boarding started at 20:30. All 12 First Class seats were full, but coach was only 2/3 full (I overheard the F/A mention the Y pax count was 72). AS has two non-stop LAX-ANC flights during the summer, but only the red-eye operate September-May. An MD-83 with enlarged fuel tanks used to fly this route, but thankfully, AS changed it to a 737-700. I certainly wouldn't be happy if I was seated in the rear of an MD-80 for five hours.
ATC held us at the gate until 21:00, but our F/A filled the time by offering us beverages and cashews. Once we reached cruising altitude, we were offered more drinks and cashews, and the dinner service commenced. Our meal consisted of:
--garden fresh salad and warm sourdough roll
--choice of soy-glazed chicken or scallop and shrimp pasta (had pasta...not bad, seafood was pretty fresh).
--a slice of tiramisu (delicious)
Glasses were kept full for the remainder of the flight. We landed in ANC 10 minutes early.
In Anchorage, I stayed at the Airport Marriott Courtyard. The property was nicely kept up, and the rooms were comfortable. Marriott also has a brand-new downtown property, which I may stay at some time next month.
AS 136 ORD-ANC 737-700
Arrives: 5:15 (ON-TIME)
The boarding area of gate B1 was packed, and it was a surprise to me that F was full, and better than 3/4 of the Y seats were occupied. Perhaps AS made the right decision to continue this service year-round.
Upon boarding, I was pleased to see that the aircraft had the new seats in F and Y, with headrests. Placed upon each seat in F was a pillow and blanket, as well as a menu and First Class entertainment guide. Pre-flight drinks were served, and we pushed back a few minutes early. I seem to recall we used runway 32, and climbed to 37,000 feet.
Once in-flight, hot towels were offered, followed by a bowl of WARM mixed-nuts and beverages. Our dinner was served in three courses, once again. We started with a spinach salad with mozzarella, radicchio, and tomatoes. The F/A came through with a basket of wheat and sourdough rolls. For my entree, there was a choice of Alaskan halibut, or filet mignon. The halibut was fresh, and fortunately was not overcooked. It came with a chunky salsa, and a medley of veggies. "Baked Alaska" was served for dessert, and it did not disappoint. The DVD players were passed out, and 10 movie selections were included. I didn't care to watch a movie, and I had no problem dosing-off. I slept until our breakfast snack was offered, which consisted of a fruit plate and croissant. I energized myself with a cup of Seattle's Best Joe. Our 5 1/2 hour flying time got us on the ground right on-time, and we quickly parked at gate L2.
While in Chicago, I stayed at the Marriott Suites O'Hare.
American 1455 ORD-LAX 737-800
Departs: 6:55 (actual: 7:40)
Arrives: 9:20 (actual: 10:04).
There was some crew scheduling problem, causing a 45 minute delay. After boarding, the safety video was played, while the F/As re-arranged carry-on luggage (flight wasn't too full, but everyone was sitting up front). The taxiways and runways were congested as usual, and we didn't takeoff until just after 8:00 AM.
Although this was a 737 in coach, the new Recarro seats, extra legroom, and an empty middle seat made the flight comfortable. The safety video was played, and there was an in-flight movie, although I don't recall what it was. It was certainly nothing I would pay $5 to watch. When serving the "breakfast" (cereal or yogurt with a banana and muffin), an F/A noticed my laptop. She informed me that it was her understand that this aircraft had power ports in coach. However, when I inquired as to where I would find my power port, she was unable to come up with an answer. She directed me to the American Way magazine, which had marginally useful information on the subject. It stated something like, "Your powerport is located under your seat, in certain rows." I was in row 12, and I saw no evidence of this feature existing. If anyone knows more about which American aircraft have powerports in coach, and knows where they are located, let me know. After landing, we taxiied to gate 42B.
Overall: I was pleased with the service on AS. The ANC-ORD flight in particular was top drawer. My flight on American was also fine, although I would have appreciated a hot breakfast entree.