Alaska 93, 8/13/03
SJC-SEA Lv. 12:56 Arr. 14:56
I always enjoy flying out of Terminal C at SJC. Most people I've talked to consider it "outmoded," but personally, I find it very user-friendly. Departing on Alaska is especially convenient, as the boarding area and dedicated security checkpoint are immediately adjacent to the ticket counter. There was no one in line at the ticket counter today, and we were able to check bags and clear security in a matter of minutes.
As with most AS flights, boarding was scheduled to begin 30 minutes prior to departure. At SJC, that seems a bit optimistic, as aircraft are only scheduled for 35 minutes at the gate. Today, the inbound aircraft arrived within a few minutes of schedule, and pre-boarding began at 12:36 (20 minutes prior to scheduled departure). The door to the tarmac remained wide-open until the agent returned from the aircraft about 10 minutes later, at which point First Class/MVP passengers were allowed to board.
Boarding of the main cabin ensued through the front and rear stairs, and we finally left the gate with a full load at 13:06.
It was a quick 1 hr. 27 min flight to SEA today. We took off from runway 30R at 13:18, and followed the customary Loupe One "corkscrew" departure. Five minutes later we crossed back over the SJC VOR at an altitude of 12,000 ft. From there, we climbed to 35,000 ft and flew direct to BTG (just north of PDX). We then turned towards Olympia and started our descent, following the Olympia Four arrival. We landed to the north today, touching down on runway 34R at 14:45. We parked at gate C9 at 14:50.
The coach "snack" today was a 1.5 oz bag of Garden of Eatin' Sesame Blues corn chips accompanied by a small tub of tasty bean dip. I asked the flight attendant for two more bags of these delicious chips and took them with me!
Horizon 2330 8/19/03
SEA-YYC Lv. 11:30 Arr. 14:03
Dash 8 Q400 N409QX
At 10:25 AM, the Alaska ticket counter was typically busy, but there was no one in line for Horizon. The ticket agent was able to guess our names, as we were the only ones yet to check-in for the flight to Calgary! There was a significant line for C concourse security, but our total wait was only 10 minutes.
There were a number of other QX flights departing out of C2 today, but there were still a few empty seats in the boarding area. As is customary, complimentary Starbucks coffee was available at gate C4 and copies of the Puget Sound Business Journal were stacked adjacent to the Horizon Service Center.
We pushed back at 11:41 with about ¾ of seats filled, and took off from runway 16L at 11:47. We landed at 14:00 Calgary time (flying time of 1hr 13 min), and pulled up to the gate exactly on time. It was an uneventful flight except for considerable turbulence as we passed through burdgeoning cumulus clouds on our descent into Calgary.
Flying the Horizon Q400s is a pleasurable experience. The six-bladed props ensure a relatively quiet flight, and the cabin features ample headroom and a 33-34 inch seat pitch.
In-flight beverage service today included a selection of coffee, tea, and soft drinks, as well as complimentary Grant's Lazy Days Pale Ale and Covey Run Chardonnay by the glass. I gave Grant's a try, and found it surprisingly flavorful. We were also served a one oz. bag of Tim's Cascade potato chips (thick-cut, cooked in peanut oil and only lightly salted...very good!).
Horizon 2331, 8/24/03
SEA-YYC Lv. 14:40 Arr. 15:22
Dash 8 Q400 N405QX
Boarding began as soon as they closed out the 14:20 flight to LAX. We departed on time, again with about ¾ of seats filled. Flight time was about 15 minutes longer than heading eastbound. We received the same beverage selection, along with a 0.5 oz bag of grissini. I had a can of Talking Rain Lemon Lime sparkling water, but those consuming alcohol were offered several refills. We arrived a few minutes early at Sea-Tac.
During our 3 ½ hour layover, we became acutely aware of the lack of any decent restaurants in the C, D and N Concourses.
Alaska 324 8/24/03
SEA-SJC Lv. 18:53 Arr. 20:59
737-900 N306AS (this is "Bruce Kennedy," the 2nd 739 delivered to AS)
Our aircraft arrived from Las Vegas at 18:19 (a few minutes late due to AS / KLAS), USA - Nevada">LAS ATC). We pushed back with a full load of 16F/156Y at 19:11. Incidentally, I noticed a 737-400 parked a few gates down (perhaps D3 or D4) that was surrounded by flares. There were several fire trucks at the scene, although there was no visible smoke. Anyone know what was going on?
While queuing for takeoff, I was able to see the SAS A340 bound for CPH and the British Airways 747-400 to LHR roar down 16L. That's about as exciting as it gets at Sea-Tac! We were airborne at 19:24 and followed the ELMAA 7 departure. From there, it was direct to Point Reyes. Our descent into SJC took us over SFO and Woodside. We landed on runway 30L at 21:04 and parked at gate C14 at 21:09.
First Class on the AS 739 features the "ergonomic" seats with the not-so-adjustable headrests. Seat pitch is 37 inches, and the seatback pocket is placed higher up on the seatback than in previous versions, thus affording more legroom.
We had a light meal service this evening consisting of either a turkey sandwich or a chicken caesar salad. Meal orders this evening were taken as people arrived at their seats, so those who boarded late did not receive a choice. The salad included a half breast of chicken and two slices of warm, but rather dry garlic bread. The sandwich appeared to be turkey and cheddar on a French roll, served with a side salad of diced cucumbers and orange slices. Both options included delicious warmed cashews and a Ghirardelli milk chocolate square. Covering the trays were blue-check paper napkins, but I was glad to see the real salt and pepper shakers, metal knives and cloth napkins. The F/A did a great job of keeping our glasses full throughout the flight.
Alaska/Horizon: All four flights arrived within 10 minutes of schedule, and our bags arrived promptly and unmolested. I was impressed by the friendliness of the Horizon ground staff at both Seattle and Calgary. Considering all four segments were under two hours in duration, in-flight service was more than satisfactory.