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Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Wed May 09, 2001 3:34 am

Just took a quick trip from my home in Tucson to visit family in Seattle. Itinerary:

May 2 - AS Flight 739 TUS-SEA
May 5 - AS Flight 738 TUS-SJC-SEA

Some observations on the trip and Alaska Airlines in general...

- Web check-in is great...if you don't have baggage to check, you don't need to come in contact with ANY airport personnel until you actually board the flight.

- Alaska Airlines airport staff at both TUS and SEA are very efficient and friendly. Maybe their workload is reduced by the large number of electronic check-in machines Alaska uses.

- B737-400 (used for all legs) - pretty comfortable the way AS configures it...they have a pleasant blue, grey and gold interior and above-average coach legroom. However, they don't have any entertainment, which is too bad, because TUS-SEA is over 3 hrs long. There are blank metal plates on the armrests where the stereos would be...maybe they used to have them? I know people like to rag on Alaska for maintenance, but all of the planes I flew on at least LOOKED like they were in good shape.

- Service on AS is very good. Even on our 1hr 30 min flight between San Jose and Tucson, we were served a sandwich and cookies, with 2 drink services (whole can too!) The crews were very professional and friendly. On the meal tray, there is a little card with an Old Testament verse...a neat idea!! Flights were not full, so I had a whole row coming back from SEA with all the benefits of both window AND aisle.

- San Jose was an interesting stopover--we taxiied right by a modern (pink!) terminal full of AA and Southwest planes and pulled up to a Greyhound-looking thing complete with exterior airstairs! Guess all of the "nobody" airlines are still using the old terminal. Didn't get off the plane so I can't comment on the interior. Last time I was inside San Jose airport was in 1992.

- Weather was gorgeous both ways. Got a spectacular view of Mt Rainier on the way up, and Mt Shasta, Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco on the way home. A little turbulence around Tuscon because of the heat, but nothing terrible.

In conclusion, another good trip on Alaska. Next week, I will be venturing down to Paraguay and back via AA. THAT should be quite a report.
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Wed May 09, 2001 11:27 am

Thanks for the report!

Alaska's first 737-400s did arrive with headphone jacks. However, they were never utilized. A couple years ago, AS sold some number of their 734s and subsequently leased them back. This may be when the metal plates showed up. I would except the plates to disappear as Alaska replaces the seats on those aircraft.

SEA-TUS is certainly not the only flight where AS could used some IFE. AS has plenty of flights between SEA-ANC, and also a good number between heading down to Mexico.

Alaska had plans to begin installation of satellite TV (à la Jet Blue) on their aircraft as early as March 2000. However, the maintenance investigation ensuing flight 261 and an overall decline in schedule reliability resulted in new priorities.

By now, Alaska has now implemented the majority of their FAA action plan. There are no open labor negotiations, and schedule completion is at its best level in four years. So, it would make sense that Alaska might start to pay attention to an issue like IFE.

An AS official mentioned that a test-run of the satellite TV system on one of their 734s has been scheduled for this month. This could lead the way for installation on the majority of their aircraft.

Alaska has also been offering personal DVD players in First Class on some of their longer flights (such as ANC-ORD).

Hope this info helps!
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Wed May 09, 2001 2:57 pm

Cool trip report.I also like the fact that they put a verse from the Bible with every meal  Smile
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Wed May 09, 2001 3:48 pm

Nice to see a fellow Tucsonan in the forum.

It is good to hear Alaska is providing service from Tucson again... the Pacific northwest is a market not well served from Tucson, unless you enjoy stoping in LAX,PHX, or SLC... or driving up to Phoenix. Hopefully we will see more service come back to Tucson in the next few years.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Sun May 13, 2001 12:30 pm

I'm flying Alaska from SFO-PVR on May 13 and returning on Thursday. We'll see how the trip goes down and back. This will be my first flight on any airline besides Southwest for several years.
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Mon May 14, 2001 6:04 am

Rumor has it that AS will install some CNN Inflight or similar on ONE 737-400 for testing. This came up last year, but I'm not sure if it actually did get done. It's a fairly expensive modification. They have some real long flights ANC-ORD is their longest, however SEA-DCA would be about as long. I wouldn't hesitate flying them on those long routes, however they need to get some sort of IFE. Not just for FC, but for the folks in back.
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Mon May 14, 2001 1:31 pm

I'm not sure if it actually did get done.

No, it didn't happen. To reiterate what I previously said, this test was scheduled for March 2000 on ship 791. However, the trial run has been postponed several times since then, and the last "estimate" I heard was May 2001. But, trust me, it hasn't happened yet. When it does happen, the marketing gurus at Alaska will be trumpeting this feature to Kotzebue and back.

Installing the DirecTV system is VERY expensive, and Alaska does not have money to spare right now. However, DirecTV may pick up some of the installation costs, and if Alaska charges for the headsets in coach, it could prove to be quite a lucrative move to install the TVs systemwide. JetBlue has been very pleased with the reliability of the system, and they have seen fit to make the TVs free of charge for all passengers.

I can't help thinking that by the time Alaska finally gets around to installing a system like this, the technology will be totally obsolete.
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Thu May 17, 2001 8:56 pm

I flew Alaska Airlines a few years ago and was a bit diasppointed. Routing was SFO-SEA-ANC-Fairbanks

SFO-SEA was good with the usual drinks and snack - left SFO 5pm arr SEA 6.30pm

SEA-ANC not good - only service was a drink and packet of peanuts - this on a sector of 3+ hours and around dinnertime i was expecting a meal of some sort and by the time i arrived in Fairbanks it was too late to get anything.

I did fill in a passenger comment card but did not get any reply - do they now provide a meal service on this sector ?

English First, British Second, european Never!
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Fri May 18, 2001 6:11 am

Paulc---Every flight between SEA-ANC leaving between 6AM and 7PM receives a choice of hot meals.

A coach breakfast (served 6AM-9:30AM) would include a hot entree, fresh fruit and a warm muffin/pastry

A coach lunch (served 9:30AM-2:30PM) features a choice of a hot sandwich or pasta with fruit and/or potato salad and a cookie.

A coach dinner (served 2:30PM-7:00PM) features a meat and vegetarian entree option, with a roll, salad and real dessert.

All flights receive two drink services and afternoon and evening flights receive nuts with their beverages.

Unfortunately, if you fly after 7PM, coach passengers receive nothing but a choice of packaged snacks.
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RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Fri May 18, 2001 9:24 pm

EIPremier - well we did not - 9 sept 1997 was the day in question - only had a drink with peanuts - nothing else. We did notice however that lots of people joining the plane in Seattle had 'fast food' as carry on - they obviously knew something we did not >g
English First, British Second, european Never!
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Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2000 8:17 am

RE: Quick Observations - TUS-SEA-TUS On Alaska

Sat May 19, 2001 3:39 am

I think you actually raise a good point, Paul. Many people accuse Alaska of "cutting back" their meal service in recent years. Yet in actuality, the opposite has been true. Alaska's catering standards are generally quite good these days (except for flights to Mexico). However, back around '95-'97, that wasn't necessarily the case.

I flew SFO-SEA-ANC-SFO all in First Class in August of '97. On a 3PM SFO-SEA flight, we received nothing but snack mix and beverages. On a 6PM SEA-ANC flight, we received a three-course dinner. But on the ANC-SFO "lunch" flight, we received a choice of a small sandwich or salad followed by a hot fudge sundae (a decidely WEIRD menu!)

Let's just say that I was glad we were travelling on award tickets!!

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