MD-83 N982AS (last MD-80 delivered to AS 5/97)
Lv 12:45 Ar 14:50
Seats 1A, 1C
Photo © AirNikon
The MD-80 interior looked a little worn, but the seats in First were very comfortable (more so than the 734s, IMO). I had 1C, which has the most legroom. We took off from 30R and did the loop departure, passing back over SJC at 12,000 ft. The 1hr 35 min flight was smooth and whisper-quiet, and the clear skies afforded great views of the SF Bay Area, Cascade Peaks and Puget Sound.
In flight service consisted of a cocktail service with peanuts, followed by a light lunch. The choices were:
Chicken Caeser salad served with a French roll
(1/2 breast of chicken, five plump cherry tomatoes, garlic croutons, crisp Romaine)
Ham and Swiss sandwich served with marinated vegetables
(focaccia bread, tasty sun-dried tomato spread)
Wines: Trinity Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Wente Chardonnay.
Dessert: Ghiradelli mint chocolate square
The food was more than adequate for the short flight. Our flight attendant Ken, who I recognized from an SFO-ANC flight a while back, did a good job of keeping our glasses full. The couple across from us, who had done the $50 airport upgrades, declined their meals and didn't even take a beverage.
We landed in Seattle on rwy 34R 30 minutes early and quickly parked at gate D9. We had some time to kill before our flight to ORD, so we checked out the new A concourse. Not surprisingly, activity was still rather sparse. I don't know what I was expecting, but I thought the place looked rather sterile.
AS 21 SEA-ORD
Lv 16:00 Ar 21:56
Seats 1A, 1C
Our aircraft was a few minutes late arriving from YVR, but they did a good job turning the aircraft and we left the gate on time for our quick 3hr 15 min flight. The load was 12F, 108Y, which was more than I expected for a Sat eve. As on the previous flight, the mini-bottles of Alaskan water were on the consoles upon boarding.
Once in-flight, DigEplayers were handed out in First and sold for $10 in coach. Dinner was served in both cabins. In First Class, we had the following:
Field greens and a cracked wheat roll with butter
Glazed chicken breast with vegetables
Salmon in a cream sauce
Chocolate swirl cheesecake
I ordered fish for dinner, but I found out they loaded an extra chicken entree, so I asked the very accommodating F/A if I might have it. I ended up eating both entrees. The salmon was only fair, but the chicken was terrific (served with a light barbecue sauce with flavors of apricot and cumin). The cheesecake was creamy and delicious. Our drinks were refilled throughout the flight, but unfortunately, none of the First Class wines listed in the magazine were available. The warm mixed nuts were offered on this flight, but we didn't have long to enjoy them as they were served during our descent into Chicago.
We landed 25 minutes early and quickly taxied in to our gate. Unfortunately, they couldn't find an AAgent licensed to operate the jet bridge, and it was about twenty minutes before we were rescued.
AS 23 ORD-SEA
Lv 15:50 Ar 18:23
Seats 8D, E
The AA terminal was not at all busy. Alaska doesn't have e-ticket machines at ORD, but their check-in counter was amply (over?) staffed, and the agents looked pretty bored just standing there. Our gate was L4, which was a bit of a hike from the ticket counter. We had another completely full flight, and there was no delay in leaving ORD. In fact, it was just nine minutes from pushback to takeoff.
We were in coach this time, but the service was still good. DigEplayers were offered, but there were only eight for sale in coach. I counted more than eight players in coach, so evidently some people reserved in advance. For dinner, there was beef stroganoff or barbeque chicken (served with rice, black beans and sweet corn). Both came with a salad, wheat roll and a white chocolate coconut cookie. The beef wasn't quite warm, so it was only so-so. The chicken dish was apparently quite tasty. The cookie was great. It was quite a while before they finally came around to collect the meal trays. Once they did, they loaded up the beverage cart for a second time (full can given upon request only). Before landing, peanuts and water were offered. We touched down ten minutes early and parked at gate C12 within 90 seconds.
AS 366 SEA-SJC
737-400 N774AS "Alaskaair.com"
Lv 17:58 (18:38 ) Ar 20:01 (20:37)
Seats 16D, 16E
Photo © Manas Barooah
The lines for check-in and security were relatively short as of when we arrived at 4:45 PM. Since our scheduled flight wasn't for three hours, we decided to standby. We didn't know what gate to go to since none of the flight information monitors were up-to-date and there were no departures listed after 3:48 PM. We went to the service center where a very nice agent assisted us and got us seats together on the next flight. We felt lucky, as the flight ended up leaving full. This monitors were eventually fixed sometime around 5:30.
Our aircraft arrived late from Juneau, and it was 52 minutes before we left the gate. Alaska has cut the turn times to 35 minutes on many flights out of SEA and I really don't think this is practical with so many connecting pax and bags.
The snack in coach this evening was Denali mint cream chocolate chip ice cream, which was delicious. The flight was fairly smooth up until Northern California. When I looked out the window, everything was completely white. I thought this a bit odd considering we were still at or near our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. It turned out we were flying through the upper regions of a large storm cell that extended all the way to the tropopause. There was some turbulence, but it wasn't as bumpy as I might have expected. The rest of the flight was uneventful.
Overall, we had great service from Alaska Airlines. The cabin crews worked well together, and I noticed that on all four flights we had one male and two female flight attendants. Also, the male F/A served the First Class cabin on each occasion. It might have just been coincidence, but I thought it was rather interesting.