April 24, 2004
Lv0859 Arr1146 Boeing 737-700 N629AS
I stayed overnight at Hilton at Crystal City Ronald Reagan National Airport and was not impressed, and liked Doubletree at Crystal City better; but Hilton was closer to the row of restaurants. Well, it was too late for a bite anyway. I went to sleep because I had too much vodka tonic on board. I took the 7:35am shuttle to the airport and Alaska counters were deserted. Northwest was the handling agent and I was given my boarding passes within seconds. I went to the World Club, which was a surprisingly comfortable club with two levels. There is a self-served non-alcoholic bar and a limited amount of breakfast pastries and fresh apples. I had some Tropicana orange juices and a donut. The agent was very helpful and helped a number of passengers with a delayed Detroit bound flight. It gave me a better impression of the airline.
I went to the boarding gate soon, and please be aware of the location of the World Club, which was before security! Boarding began early at 8:25am and water bottles were at each F seats. The F/A was okay and immediately made announcements about storage of carryon bags. The flight was fairly full as expected. Door was closed at 8:56am and we was made aware of the two new FAA directives – first the thirty minutes rule, and second, the toilets in the front are reserved for first class passengers, and economy class passengers have to use the restrooms in the rear, and he will reinforce the rule. I guess it is a FAA directive and the SEA
F/A made the same announcement, but did not reinforce the rules strictly. Well crews are usually more careful with the DCA
flights. A short taxi to Runway 1 and after the landing of a sparkling new Northwest’s A319 and US Airways’ Airbus, we lifted off from a sunny day at DC at 9:07am.
Due to weather, our flight path was a bit unusual due to the closing of some of the airways, and the pilot said our flying time was five hours and twenty-seven minutes and we climbed to 39,000ft for most of the flight. We hit some heavy chops mid-flight, but I was sleeping that I could not tell you much. After thirty minutes into the flight, the F/As sprung into actions – Dig E players first, beverages next, fruit plate, and then entrée, and then tea/coffee. The F/As were hassling during the flights, and not much of the typical Alaska friendliness. I missed the F/A from my last Alaska flight. Well, the breakfast was more generous than usual, and the fruit plate had two thick slices of melon, a thick slice of cantaloupe, very generous amount of grapes, strawberry, kiwi, and orange segment, accompanied by a warmed cinnamon apple scone. For entrée, we had a choice of the following
Spring Omlette filled with vegetables (red and yellow pepper dices) and topped with asparagus and pepper medley and a cream sauce, accompanied by sliced spicy sausages and potato pancakes
Banana walnut pancakes accompanied by scrambled eggs and grilled country ham
I had the omelet, which was delicious and very filling. I had the scone for dessert and then I promptly fell asleep till the snack service. The snack plate had reduced from a deli plate or cheese/fruit plate to the typical bowl of warmed mixed nuts. I was a bit shocked, but not surprise… knowing how Alaska functions these days. I could not help to think about the words from CEO this month at the Alaska magazine – Alaska is trying to operate like Costco – offering superior products and excellent price. I personally don’t think it is a good thing to link an airline with Costco – it is good to know where this airline is heading.
Descent soon began at 2:12pm and the hot towels were absent again. We landed on R/W16R at 11:34am PST and it was a beautiful day and we wasted no time in parking at gate D2. The folks to Anchorage got to deplane since we arrived early. I headed to Fresh Express for fresh Udon noodles and also noticed the new terminal was opened. The international check in counters were moved to the new wing and they were nice – Asiana, British Airways, EVA Airways, SAS
, and Aeroflot had all moved there. The new terminal looks almost ready. I went to the board room for the rest of the afternoon.
Lv1700 Arr1940 Boeing 737-400 N771AS
The flight arrived early from San Diego and there was no TANGO this afternoon. Boarding began at 4:30pm and there was the typical pre-takeoff water bottle. Our flight attendant was more friendly and attentive. The flights were excellent. The load was 122 today and F was full with one baby. He was very good and gave us much fun throughout the flight. Door was closed at 4:57pm and we were off the gate on time. We took off from Runway 34R at 5:09pm and flying time was three hours and eighteen minutes.
Typical Alaska service – beverage first with old-fashioned peanuts and then salad plate, followed by entrée and dessert! For salad, we had a nice spinach salad, accompanied by radish slices, tomatoes and daikon sticks, and Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing and Italian roll. For entrées, there was a choice of herbed broiled chicken breast accompanied by a creamy risotto, asparagus, and sweet potato and chili beans and beef over rice pilaf and summer sweet pepper medley. To no surprise, chili dinner was the only choice left for folks at 2F, and Row 3. I found it strange for an airline to serve chili on board and the smell was not the most welcoming kind on a plane. I think Alaska should avoid them in the future. For dessert, there was a key lime pie and the F/A refilled my tea a number of times. It was a very good flight, and for economy class, there was a chicken pot pie service with apples, and the F/As passed out extra pot pies after the first round. The rest of the flight was quiet and I did some reading on collective memory. Descent soon began at 8:03pm and we landed on Anchorage at 7:27pm Alaska Standard Time. It was a nice flight and the bags came out fine. I was at Hilton Anchorage by 8pm local time. It was a very nice hotel and the location is convenient and there are many eateries around the hotel. Despite the winter hours and the quietness of Anchorage, it is a nice feeling to walk along the small downtown. I enjoyed a day in a really quiet place.
April 25, 2004
Lv1700 Arr2125 MD
It was time to get home and I took a taxi back home. Everyone was really friendly at Anchorage – ranging from the hotel receptionist to the check in agent. Surprisingly, I used Alaska’s web bag drop concept for the first time. It was fairly easy to use and I was glad that there was a MVP Gold/ First class line. I went to the board room for a bit and could not wait till the new board room ready during the summer. I had some ginger ale and assorted snacks. The aircraft arrived early from Seattle and boarding began at 4:28pm, after a number of handicapped passengers boarded. Leslie, our friendly purser, welcomed us aboard, and water bottles were already placed at each console, and first class was full, with a relatively high load in Y. Push back happened at one minute prior to the hour. There was no wait at Anchorage. We took off from Runway 24L at 5:08pm. Flying time was three hours and nine minutes – longer than expected due to ATC at Seattle. The routing took us from John Stone Point, towards Yakutat, Sitka, Ketchikan, Vancouver Islands, Port Hardy, Victoria and then descent onto Seattle. Unfortunately it was cloudy on the way down to Seattle, until passing through Port Hardy. It was a beautiful evening along the West Coast. We climbed to 33,000feet.
Dinner was served in first – a new menu for me. For starter, there was a Caesar dressing with slices of Romaine lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, accompanied by an Italian herb roll, and for entrées, there was a choice of Seared herbed shrimps with black pepper fettuccine on a cream sauce and a tomato garnish (delicious), and a sweet and sour crusted chicken breast with sour cream & chives potatoes and steamed zucchini with thyme. It was a nice dinner and there was no fight for chicken like on the inbound flight. For dessert, there was a nice caramel torte and the F/As got us some delicious ALASKA Critter Clusters – almond biscotti caramel clusters. For economy class, there was a chicken pesto sandwich with cookie. The F/As were attentive with refilling drinks and soon we began our descent at 7:56pm. We landed on Runway 34L at 9:17pm and parked at gate D3
a few minutes later. The flight would continue to Spokane.
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Lv2205 Arr0620+1 Boeing 737-900 N319AS
The aircraft arrived late from San Francisco and the boarding time was delayed till 9:45pm and lots of families this evening. There were the usual water bottles and the flight was full. We pushed back at 10:12pm… not bad. We headed to the line of red eye flights taking off at Runway 34R. We lifted off from a beautiful evening at Seattle around 10:21pm. We climbed up to 33,000feet and the flight was relatively smooth till the last hour of the flight. Flying time was a quick four hours and forty-seven minutes.
Service was designed to be simple on the redeye flights – there was the beverage and old-fashioned peanuts service, followed by a snack, which was the familiar garlic and artichoke dip with vegetables, such as carrots, celeries, cherry tomatoes, olives, and endive, and some Grissini – Italian style breadsticks with sesame seeds. For economy class, there was the apple chip service. Dig E players were handed out and most passengers chose to sleep. At 2:20am PST, continental breakfast was served – a nice fruit plate with pineapple chunks, orange and strawberry, accompanied by a Fair Scone – just good enough! For Y, they got the Fair Scone as well. We landed on R/W18R at 6:09am and parked at gate 5, the usual Alaska gate. There was some confusion to the carousel number on which AS
bags came from. Thank god! I remembered ATA did the ground handling for Alaska. It was a really good flight…
Well, I just flew a quick roundtrip on Alaska’s new service between Chicago and Seattle and the service is similar to what other transcontinental flights offer, so that is nice. The staffs seem to be enthusiastic in Chicago.
April 27, 2004
Lv1550 Arr1826 Boeing 737-400 N767AS
The Alaska check-in counters are slightly expanded with a few more counters and there are posters that advertise the new twice-daily flights. American still perform the ground services and the check points were fairly quiet and I got into the AA
giant terminal three within ten minutes. Since the Admiral club was closed at the L area, I used the giant AC
between H6 and K6
. It was a nice facility and I love the panoramic view of the ORD
area and saw a number of interesting planes landed, include Air India’s Boeing 747-400 and Iberia’s A340-300 EC
. There was wireless service at the AC
, but it was not free – T-Mobile Hot Spot was the official wireless agent. I think AA
should follow CO
by offering free wireless service.
The aircraft arrived early from Seattle and our flight was ready to board at 3:20pm. The load was fairly full, include many AS
employees, who went out on celebrations the night before. The F/A welcomed us on board. Water bottles were already placed at each seat, but no WSJ this afternoon. Not a big deal! Door was closed on time and we pushed back three minutes later. We took off from Runway 32R at 4:07pm. Flying time was four hours and twelve minutes with an attitude of 31,000feet.
Beverage was served shortly after takeoff, followed a spinach salad with mushrooms, bacon bits and Parmesan cheese, accompanied by a multigrain bread slice and a container of Parmesan peppercorn dressing. For entrées, there was a choice of Pan fried salmon with pesto and cream sauce, accompanied by boiled potatoes and sugar snap peas or the famous Chicken Wellington (Chicken Breast wrapped in puff pastry filled with mushroom) with a Bordelaise sauce, accompanied by a white and wild rice pilaf and carrots. For dessert, there was a chocolate-layered white cake. Hot towels were handed out after the meal. For coach passengers, there was a choice of roast pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes or chicken straganoff with egg noodles. Prior to arrival, there was the beverage service with warmed mixed nuts. Dig E players were offered in first class, but did not catch an announcement for coach. $20 meal certificates for McCormick and Schmick restaurants were passed out as well.
We landed on a stormy Seattle’s Runway 34L at 6:19pm – what a drastic different from two days ago. We were parked at gate D11 a few minutes later. It was a nice flight.
April 28, 2004
Lv0845 Arr1438 Boeing 737-400 N782AS
I arrived at the airport about an hour prior to arrival and quickly used the kiosk to check in. I got my favorite seat, 2C, again and the flight was pretty full this morning. For a new flight, it was pretty good in terms of loading. I paid a quick visit to the Board room since the departure time was pushed back five minutes for no reason. I had a bagel and had a glass of juice, while watching a few planes going up and down. I headed to the gate D7
around 8:20am and boarding had already been under way. I was among the last few passengers settling down, and I soon found out that the inbound flight from Anchorage actually arrived early and the plane was ready. However due to high wind at ORD
, the ATC was slowing down traffic, and therefore our ESD was pushed back. Boarding was basically done by 8:33am but while we were holding, Daniel, our Anchorage based F/A served us a real pre-takeoff beverage. Of course, the usual mini water bottles and the $20 certificate was at the console, with a pile of WSJ by the entrance. We received our clearance and pushed back at 8:56am and slowly headed down to Runway 16L. We waited at the end of the runway, while Alaska’s N303AS (739), Horizon’s N375PH (Dash 8 Q200), N416QX (DH4), and N351PH (dash 8) took off. Soon it was our turn and we left at 9:12am, after a day of stormy weather at Seattle.
Flying time was three hours and thirty minutes, excluding the sixteen minutes extra holding time outside of Chicago, and our cruising attitude was 33,000feet. Shortly after takeoff, breakfast beverages were served, followed by a fruit plate, which was the same as my Seattle to Orlando flight two days ago – pineapple chunks, orange segments, and strawberries, but accompanied by a Raisin Scone (I prefer the Fair Scone), which was also nice. After fruit plates were collected, Daniel showed us the choice of entrees this morning –
Denver Omelet filled with ham, mushrooms and onions, accompanied by chicken sausage, and homefriens, which I had and was delicious, or a Mushroom Frittata topped with salsa, accompanied by Turkey Canadian bacon, and sweet potatoes. Both were wonderful choices, if you ask me. Dig E players were handed out soon and I went to sleep promptly. Warmed nuts were served forty-five minutes prior to arrival, followed by fresh hot towels. Descent started at 12:24pm, after vectoring a bit above Iowa and Illinois, and soon we were crossing the lake and heading to the Windy City. Due to strong winds, the F/As prepared the cabin a bit earlier and took their seats. The last eight minutes of the flight was very shaky and the winds were really strong. We landed on R/W22R at 2:58pm and planes were everywhere – take off, landing, holding, and waiting for gates. We finally parked at gate L2B at 3:05pm. I think the new flight was a success and I wish Alaska lucks. The service was identical to transcontinental flights, which was cool. The Anchorage based F/As were friendly and fun, but I felt bad for them – they flew the whole night (redeye from ANC
and then onto ORD
Well the next report is on Northwest’s WBC service from JFK
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on the way back.
Hopefully, more people will read them.