Last spring, as my junior year of high school began to draw to a close for me, my parents and I began to discuss potential vacation plans. I was already planning to go to Delaware by myself (the trip report for that is here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1462831
), and we wanted to do something else as a family. It was an easy decision for us - we had visited Las Vegas several times in 2018 and 2019 and loved it, so we decided to go back. We booked our trip through Costco Travel as they offered a sizable food and beverage credit at the hotel we were planning to stay at, and we opted to fly Alaska as they were the cheapest option at the time. Here was our flight itinerary:
8/1/21: Alaska 1236, dep. SEA 10:06 am, arr. LAS 12:40 pm
8/6/21: Alaska 1435, dep. LAS 4:15 pm, arr. SEA 6:50 pm
A few days before we were scheduled to leave, my elderly grandmother had some health issues pop up, and my mom felt obliged to stay home and take care of her, but she my dad and I to go, so it ended up just being us two. I made sure to check in exactly 24 hours before departure, and luckily managed to snag an exit row for the flight down to LAS. I packed the day before, and woke up early the morning of our departure for the drive to the airport. We left early to avoid potential traffic on I-5 which ended up not materializing, so we got to the airport quite early. We parked at an offside lot and their shuttle dropped us off at the terminal at about 7:20, giving us plenty of time to relax before our flight.
I checked in using the kiosk, we dropped our bags (which were free due to my dad's Alaska credit card), and then we went through security. My father had signed us up for a free trial of Clear so we were able to skip the main security line, which looked rather long from what I could tell. We then took the train over to the North Satellite, where our flight was departing from.
The N Gates had been under renovation for several years and they had completely reopened it a couple weeks prior to my flight, so this was my first time seeing the completed facility. I was pleasantly surprised; it had plenty of natural lighting, high ceilings, and artwork throughout the building, and it was a definite upgrade over the older building that was dark and crowded.
The food options here were rather good in my opinion; there were several local restaurants for passengers to choose from and they had long lines, but that was to be expected. I chose a large sausage and egg breakfast burrito along with a frappé from Caffe D'Arte, and once I finished with that I decided to walk around the rest of the airport to kill some time.
Walking through the B Gates.
A Delta A220 pulling into gate B1. I'm pretty sure it was from Phoenix or Tucson, but I'm not totally certain.
A LUS American A321 parked at gate S6, just prior to boarding for its flight to Philadelphia.
A Delta A319 heading to Washington-Dulles out of gate A2.
Once it was a bit closer to our boarding time, I headed back to the S Gates. Our plane to Las Vegas had arrived during that time and was parked at the gate after its flight from Portland, I believe. Our aircraft today was N277AK, delivered to Alaska in August 2017.
I boarded about 20 minutes prior to departure.
I was sitting in seat 17F for this flight, next to the right aft window exit. This was a pretty good upgrade overall; the seat still reclined, there was great legroom, and we were still allowed to keep items under our seat. The only real caveats were the right armrest being part of the exit door and the headrest being immovable, but those weren't especially important to me. I'd recommend these seats overall, but I'm more hesitant to recommend the exit row seats in the row ahead of me, since I'm pretty sure they don't recline.
Before pushback, the AA/TWA retrojet taxied behind us, which was nice to see.
Boarding wrapped up on time, and we pushed back at about 10:04. We taxied out, waiting in a fairly long takeoff line and then taking off on runway 16L/34R, with a wheels-up time of 10:30 am.
Here's a takeoff video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awtbhW21Dms
Our cruise was uneventful overall, with nothing especially noteworthy about it. The crew came around once with a full beverage service, wet wipes, and baggies of snack mix for everybody, and fruit and cheese platters were offered for sale but I didn't partake. I spent most of the flight reading on my Kindle, while taking an occasional glance at the inflight map on their device streaming website.
SEA-LAS is only about a 2 hour flight and goes by pretty quickly, so before I knew it we were beginning our descent into Las Vegas. We descended through some thick clouds over the desert which was fun to see, and then we saw the sand and mountains quickly turn into houses and civilization.
At 12:35 pm, we touched down 5 minutes before schedule and taxied over to the E Gates to park. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shMMNrwiSn4
This concourse was intended for international traffic, but it had closed during COVID and Alaska had operated out of the nearby D Gates during the height of the pandemic. Alaska moved back over to E a few days before our trip, but it was still quite empty with international demand being sluggish. An entire half of the terminal was still shut off, and the only occupants of the remaining gates were Alaska and some Frontier flights, so it was still a ghost town with the exception of our flight.
We grabbed our bags which were delivered quickly, and ordered a Lyft over to our hotel on the Strip. We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which was a great hotel that I strongly recommend.
In a nutshell, our time in Las Vegas was great! 5 days was a nice amount of time to see the city at a leisurely pace, and we had a lot of fun. It got quite hot at times, reaching 110ºF/43ºC on some days, but I hydrated frequently and didn't walk especially long distances outside so I was fine. Some photos of the most fun/noteworthy parts are below.
The view from our room at dusk. It wasn't nearly as good as last time we stayed there when we had a room facing the Bellagio fountains, but at least we had a nice view of some of the traffic out of LAS this time.
The Strip at night.
The classic Bellagio fountains, which are a must-see.
White pizza from a great place in our hotel called Secret Pizza. It was New York-style, with large but thin slices, and it was delicious.
The Hoover Dam! Pictures don't do it justice of just how gargantuan this is, I really recommend booking a tour if you're in the area.
A look at Lake Mead, which we also saw on the tour.
Some of what I believe are desert bighorn sheep, sitting in the shade with Lake Mead in the background.
Live flamingos on display at the aptly named Flamingo hotel. The hotel itself was unimpressive, dated, and reeked of cigarette smoke, but the flamingo exhibit was interesting and free and is worth a quick look.
Early one morning, I decided to do some plane spotting to spot some domestic widebody arrivals. I had fun, but it wasn't a complete success, as the runway flow changed on me an hour in and my DSLR had issues right as I tried to catch a Delta 767-400ER from Atlanta, pictured below from my phone camera.
I also made the obligatory avgeek trip to The Airplane Shop, which was close to the airport and the Strip. I also recommend checking out this place, I'm not a terribly big plane model collector but their collection is perhaps one of the best in the country.
Looking out at the Las Vegas Strip from The STRAT, which is the tallest observation tower in the US. It was a great view from that height; a good view of the Strip and you can even see where the suburbs end and the desert begins on the outskirts of the metro area.
The night before we left, we dined at a Spanish restaurant in the Cosmopolitan called Jaleo, and it was simply phenomenal. It wasn't cheap, but they had amazing tapas plates, and if you have the money I can't recommend it enough.
Shrimp with garlic, olive oil, red pepper, and bread.
Chicken and mushroom paella with aioli.
Flan for dessert.
But anyways, back to the flight portion of the report. Towards the end of our trip, I checked in 24 hours prior to departure to see if I could get an exit row again, but I had no such luck. I wasn't too disappointed though, as normal Alaska economy legroom was decently comfortable too. On the afternoon of our flight, my dad and I took a Lyft over to Terminal 3 for check-in, getting there at about 1:30 pm.
This check-in only served a handful of airlines (namely JetBlue, Alaska, Hawaiian, Frontier, and United), so it was pretty empty.
I used Clear again which was quick, so I was airside in no time. The regular security lines didn't look that bad either though, which was good. I walked around the (again, deserted) E Gates for a little bit, but I wanted a late lunch and the food options were lackluster so I went over to the larger D Gates shortly afterward, which were connected by an airside underground train. The restaurant options weren't outstanding in D either, so I settled on Quiznos and got a mediocre tuna melt from there.
An Alaska A320 parked at Concourse E bound for Portland, OR.
Walking into Concourse D, which was modern and spacious.
A Frontier A320neo which was boarding to Oklahoma City, I think.
A JetBlue A320 with some American planes parked behind it. Interestingly enough, while walking through this concourse wing I saw American's new LAS-AUS flight boarding, which had started only a few months prior.
A horribly backlit Delta 767-400ER, which was headed for either Atlanta or New York-JFK.
A Delta 737-900ER going to DTW.
A little bit later, I headed back to Concourse E where my flight was preparing to board.
N527AS was my ride back to Seattle, a 12-year old Boeing 737-800 delivered to Alaska in May 2009.
A closer look at my plane with better lighting.
I was seated in seat 24F for this flight, just behind the wing. It had an annoyingly large spot right in the middle of the window (not pictured), but other than that it was a comfortable seat with a good outside view.
While the seats themselves were good, the cabin lighting was starting to show its age with its yellowish hue.
Like our flight before, we pushed back and took off on time. I lucked out with the takeoff direction that day, as I had a great view of the Strip shortly after departure.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T07hOwMsX3E
This flight was good but uneventful, and largely similar to my inbound one. There was a good view of the desert gradually transitioning to greenery; and the FAs came through the cabin once with snack mix and drinks.
We began descending over southwest Washington, with the tip of Mount Rainier visible right in front of the leading edge of the wing.
Another cabin shot during descent.
As we got closer to Seattle it became quite scenic again; we passed over Vashon Island first, then flew past SeaTac (where I was able to watch a Spirit flight touch down from LAS that had left a few minutes before us), then past downtown Seattle before we turned on final approach.
Passing straight over downtown; the sun was straight in my eyes so photography opportunities were somewhat limited.
At 6:37 pm, we smoothly touched down on runway 16R.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPFWJpPcLNo
Right before this shot, I managed to spot a Qatar Airways 777-300ER taxing out for its flight to Doha, which is a newer addition to SEA's route map. Unfortunately, it was in the corner of the window so I couldn't really photograph it.
We parked at gate D4, right next to an Alaska A320 and a 737-900 in a Disneyland special livery.
One last cabin shot while deplaning.
Sea-Tac was fairly busy at this hour, but my dad and I got our bags delivered quickly and got to our car by about 7:20, arriving home shortly after 9.Conclusion:
In short, Alaska hit the mark on these flights. The cabin service was nothing special but appropriate for a flight of this length, and the seats were comfortable. I particularly appreciated them making their exit row seats free for all passengers 24 hours prior to departure, as other carriers like United, Delta, and American charge for them and/or reserve them for elites. I'd be glad to take Alaska again on another flight in the future, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to other people. Hope you enjoyed reading this! As always, feel free to leave questions or comments in the replies, I always enjoy reading them.