Alaska Milk Run Part 1 (ANC
Hi everyone, and thanks for reading my report (mostly) on an Alaskan milk run operation from ANC
First, how about a little background on how this came about. Well, the previous year my parents and I were supposed to go to Seattle, but my dad couldn't make it. So, a 338$ voucher for an AS
flight suddenly appeared (after paying 75$ for it). Of course, I'd use it. I quickly decided to use this opportunity to go to Alaska proper. Being interested in aviation means I couldn't pass up a chance of doing a couple of milk runs.
Delta offered a good one-way fare from CHI to ANC
on the date I wanted/needed to fly there. Bought.
Then I purchased the 2 milk-run flights for $450 dollars (so I ended up paying only about $117 there).
The last flight, back to Chicago was the most difficult one to choose: I wanted to do overnight flight (aka red-eye) for cost and time savings. That left me with 3 options: DL
(so actually only 2 options). AA
was interesting but in the end I decided to do DL
, as usual.
So, finally, my itinerary was set in stone. I should mention I initially looked at jetBlue's flights to ANC
or a stopover in SNA
to experience the take-offs from that airport, but I eventually decided it wasn't worth it, and the milk-runs would be better than trying out one of these options.
, 17:21-18:53, E175, N617CZ
, 19:30-21:05, B752, N694DL
, 22:45-01:11, B739(ER), N407AS
-CDV-YAK-JNU, 15:35-19:14, B734, N794AS
, 14:36-20:07, B734Combi, N765AS
, 00:56-06:07, A320, N311US
, 10:05-11:35, E170, N752CZ
This report will focus primarily on AS66, with a bit of detail of the positioning flights to ANC
, and a few photos of ANC
, along with a short commentary.
Well, on May 24th, it was time to go to MDW
, which involves (usually) a harrowing bus ride through South Side Chicago—it's never boring, so to speak, although the return bus journey was more fun.
I got to the airport, printed my boarding passes for the DL
flights... Finally got my AS107 boarding pass as well, which OLCI didn't really wanna give me. I succeeded in securing a window-seat—well, that flight was quite empty in the end, so no surprise.
Passing through the priority line is always a nice feeling
Especially at MDW
, where many travellers (particularly on Memorial Day weekend) probably haven't passed through security controls in years.
Soon, I was through and headed to the A concourse where DL
's gates are located: A5, A7 and A10 if I'm not mistaken. DL
+NW had ~5 gates at the airport before the merger, with DL
then occupying the now empty C-concourse.
As time passed, I expected boarding. Once priority boarding was called I proceeded onboard, surprised by the fact that there was nothing separating the First and Economy classes. No curtain, no nothing. Very weird. Though whoever's flown Compass knows they're not the best airline around... though usually not as bad as Pinnacle (erm, Endeavour)
E-175 row 4 legroom:
Volaris to a Mexican destination:
A private MD
and Lakeshore Express' Saab 340:
Anyway, soon we were on our way. After a takeoff towards the North-East, I was treated to a magnificent view of downtown Chicago from 3 sides, and headed “North by Northwest” towards MSP
, overflying O'Hare airport.
A terrific view of downtown Chicago:
A somewhat less impressive downtown: Minneapolis (or possibly St. Paul):
After about one-hour flying time we were on descent to MSP
and overflew one of the Twin Cities' downtowns, before doing a 180 degree turn and landing towards the South-East.
Not much to report about this segment, the standard drink+snack service from Delta you can find in countless TRs on this site.
We arrived at the F concourse and I had to hurry to the G concourse to not miss my flight. I arrived at the gate right about when boarding started. I proceeded down the jetway towards our B757 and my seat, 21A, not even hoping to get an upgrade on a very difficult route at a potentially very difficult time.
Delta's B757: seatback view from Y:
The 753 next door:
Economy comfort legroom:
I got settled in for the 3.5hr flight to SEA
. This 757 features PTVs in economy class (very nice—I can see the map all the time if I want). The flight appears to be, as is often the case, completely full. After about 80% of the people boarded, an agent walks down and says my name. I answer and he answers back, while handing me a new boarding pass: “You're in First. Bye-bye.” OK
, cool. I move up to First like a salmon swimming upstream. My seat, 07D, has a good view of the engine.
Moving on up:
Also, I'd be getting a hot meal in-flight... Score. I don't know how I got the F seat on this flight, but maybe the $1600 ticket I'd bought the previous week helped. On-line, I was far down on the upgrade list when I last checked.
I was asked for my choice of welcome drinks—I probably got myself an orange juice.
The 757 soon leaves its parking position and heads towards the active runway. Our pilots tell us the flight would be about 3 hours long.
After a while, the first drink service arrives. Around this time we were also asked for our meal choice—between IIRC veggie lasagna and Mediterranean Chicken. No contest for me.
Apple juice and the provided water:
IFE (map, what else?):
A bit later, my meal arrived, and it looked very good. Chicken with tomatoes and olives, as well as some polenta, snap peas, a small salad, bread roll and dessert. I finished everything. You don't see that every day from me... when we're not talking Filet Mignon
Legroom is good, and I proceed to get 1hr of internet access as well as watch an episode of Dexter (I think). Time flies by and sooner than expected (or liked), we were on approach to SEA
. The setting Sun offered some pleasant views of the Washington coastline, as well as Boeing's Renton airport.
Approach to SEA
Boeing's factory airport:
We land on 16R at SEA
and proceed to taxi to our gate at satellite S. Disembarkation was quick but I stayed around for a bit to take a couple of pictures. I then take the small train to the main terminal, concourse A, and another to concourse D, I believe. After looking around for a bit, I find an empty seat in the Alaskan-dominated concourse C.
EVA air at SEA
The Spirit of Freedom at the gate:
satellite S gate view:
When walking around and looking at our plane hidden behind the gates... I think I notice a tail number starting with N4. Holy Shit! An -ER version of the -900. Excellent news. Had never flown on one before. The AS
website only indicated -900 a couple of days before the flight. I relax and await boarding.
main dining area:
Boarding comes soon enough and progresses rather quickly, as this flight would be half-empty. Nevertheless we wait for a few passengers from the (I think) Dallas flight before taking off into the darkness towards Anchorage.
Alaska's new beast's interior (739ER):
734 next door:
Boeing Sky Interior:
The “one” window separated from the rest is actually the plugged door:
I won't say much about this flight either, as I proceeded to fall asleep for a couple of hours, as I had 3 seats for my use only, tonight. When I woke up, it was dusk again. We'd caught up to the setting Sun. The twilight was partially hiding the Alaskan terrain, with some glimpses of extraordinary landscapes peeking through...
: I get two sunsets tonight:
We arrived at ANC
and I proceeded to the baggage claim, where the courtesy phone for my hotel (Guesthouse Inn and Suites) was located. I called them and they said the van would be there in 20 minutes. Then I proceeded outside to wait for it. A bit chilly, but not overly so. The van arrived on schedule and took off towards my “motel”. The driver was nice and told me a couple of things about Anchorage... I wasn't all that awake as my biological clock was showing almost 5 am. I then checked-in, went to my room and fell asleep, ready for my milk run the next day... And for the visit of Anchorage, which I concluded shouldn't take more than 2-3 hours or so.
Anchorage hotel room: quite large:
The next morning, after waking up, I established a trail to follow around Anchorage. And so I did. It was an alright town to walk around in the central downtown area. I passed by a modern-looking fire station before proceeding to the Alaska Railroad building. There was a small fair in the area which I went to see, though it's not really my thing. Then I headed towards the Historic City Hall and the Tourist Info Center. I then proceeded to walk westwards, and then back to the Museum. There's nothing of too much interest in the area save the Anchorage Museum.
Still a motel though:
Anchorage fire station:
A nicer looking building:
The “Alask” Statehood Monument:
Historic City Hall:
Someone's copying the Faroese:
Museum (worth a visit; they had quite a few aviation-themed rooms):
Mountains near ANC
Ah, my next “stopover”:
Then I took the #7 bus to Anchorage International. This bus runs once every half-hour or hour to and from the airport, during daylight hours, I believe.
Upon arrival I was greeted by a modern yet empty airport. This is clearly not peak time in ANC
. That's midnight
Clearly, I printed my boarding pass before going through security, which seemed a much nicer process in ANC
than in other places.
I spy Frankfurt, DE
Nice airport here in AK
While the airport is not all that large, it features “enough” amenities to satisfy, and the emptiness contributes to the pleasant airport feeling. I proceeded upstairs to watch planes coming in, after getting myself a sandwich at one of the eateries... I was pleased to see a never ending queue of KAL cargo 747s (as well as some other cargo 747s from Asia) landing at ANC
Empty B concourse:
Alright, I'd waited long enough watching the Asian heavies come and go, and now it was time to head over to my gate, ready to be stuck on AS66 for four hours with little chance of escape.
Here's the main terminal:
cargo 748 (sorry, but the 744 looks so much nicer):
Asian (particularly Korean) invasion:
That's when I found out my flight would be operated by N794AS, the scheduled full passenger 737-400. In any situation, no aircraft type substitution; that's good. My first flight was on a 734... Gotta get to know the 734 in more detail, as I had only flown it a handful of times since the first flight...
N794AS for its 3-stop flight to SEA
It was time to board and thus I headed down the jetway and turned right on my way to my window seat behind the wing... A good enough view of an aging airframe that provides an essential service to the people in SE
Alaska. Ah, terrific, I'd actually get to fly on this ANC
Alaska Airlines Flight #66
operated by N794AS, a Boeing 737-400
Seat: 21A (Window—duh)
Scheduled Dep/Arr: 3:35p-7:14p
Here are some views from the inside of the aircraft—while a bit elderly it's in reasonable shape. Legroom good enough for me.
Interior of the aging 734:
dominates now that the KE
heavies are on their way out. Not a surprise... Another special livery 737 at concourse C for me to see.
Another special livery:
To other cities in Alaska, you have to take a Saab 340, probably one of these guys below. Not much time for non-AS flights for me, though. Well, at least I'd flown on the SF3 and the DH8A before!
Some older birds with their noses high in the air on the tarmac.
Soon, we were ready to take off towards the West, from runway 25L. We then proceeded to bank left to take our course towards Cordova. After a bit of climbing you could see more clearly the nice landscape that Alaska has to offer.
A glacier here and there, no big deal:
Hope you've enjoyed the scenery. That wasn't a surprise for me. What was a surprise is that AS
serves a drink (water or OJ) and a snack even on this 30-minute segment. If I remember correctly, there was a snack on each sector to JNU. Impressive is the word here... Just like the landscape. No Bible verses either. At least I didn't find them.
Service on a 30-minute hop? You don't say:
On descent into CDV:
Some low-lying clouds:
Soon, it was about time to land at CDV. The descent brought us very close to a mountain range, followed by a 90-degree turn to line up to CDV's runway. The approach seemed quite fast to me. Perhaps something to do with what felt like quite decent winds on finals.
Shaking the mountain range's hands:
Landing towards the east at CDV after one of the fastest approaches on a 737, felt like:
We then back-track a bit along the runway before exiting on the taxiway heading towards the small terminal of CDV airport. Some pax disembarked and I took the time to download pictures to my laptop... Would you know it, CDV offers 1-hr of free internet to passers-by. Very nice.
Cordova terminal (free wi-fi!):
Well, not quite 40 minutes later after landing (scheduled stop in CDV) we were on our way again. That's the way to go—ahead of schedule for us.
Glacier glaciating on and off:
Another short segment to go now. It should take about 30 minutes to Yakutat. The scenery dominates once again, I must say. Another round of service provided by AS
Is the scenery boring you yet?
How about now?
More threatening clouds on approach into YAK:
A very slow cruise ship on its way somewhere. I don't really understand cruise ships... The only reason I'd do it is to collect lots of Caribbean countries in a short time without having to depend on LIAT (or whatever it's called nowadays). I do hope the poor sods on the ship have wi-fi... Otherwise it'd get really boring for me. Ocean, ocean, ocean, oh, there's a whale. Also, they're very slow. Pssh.
We overtook that cruise ship in seconds:
Trying a more artistic shot:
is another small airport, but it has 2 runways, for all the traffic it sees. The terminal is roughly the same size as that at CDV, but no free wi-fi here, seems like.
Also, a restaurant/bar/hotel offering Food Shelter Booze. Pick 1 out of 3.
Willkommen nach Yakutat:
Food Shelter Booze... I'm sure many could do without the first two:
During this stop I investigated the lavatorial facilites; they were in order. The F/A commented something like “oh, everyone needs to take a piss during this stop” in a very jovial manner. Things are different in Alaska.
After a longer stop than at CDV, we were on our way to my final destination (for the day): Juneau. We taxied by a Douglas aircraft on our way to the runway and took off towards the East.
Evening creeping in:
Another roughly 30 minutes of flight to JNU. We were on descent before you knew it. Everything seemed to go by too quickly. On approach, we overflew the airport before doing a 180-degree turn and landing towards the West. A couple of minutes later we had reached our parking position and I disembarked our B734 via the jetway. Three minutes later I was at baggage claim and called for the hotel shuttle. It was already on its way.
Man and nature:
We win; mountains can't fly:
Overview of JNU on approach:
So many small planes:
JNU baggage claim area:
As I stepped out of the airport, someone said “summertime in Juneau, Alaska” with a bit of a drawl. And so it was; sun was shining and the temperature was a quite un-Alaskan ~72F/22C.
Summertime in Juneau, Alaska!
My “suite” at the Driftwood Lodge:
Well, that's about it for now—stick around for a bald eagle, pictures of Juneau (and Seattle) as well as the Combi milk-run down to the lower 48.
Conclusions to follow in the 2nd part of this report.
Hopefully you've enjoyed! As always, comments/questions are appreciated.
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