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MSYtristar
Topic Author
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:08 pm


...


In February of this year Alaska announced new nonstop service between MSY and SEA. Maybe a week after it was announced, I went ahead and bought a ticket on the very first flight, because I knew it'd be a historic occasion for the airport and city, and I wanted to be there for that. Initially I was just going to do a MSY-SEA roundtrip, spending two nights in SEA. After looking at a bunch of options, however, I settled on a rather crazy itinerary that would span nine flights in total on AS/QX/UA, with overnight stays in GEG and BOI. The kicker? All of this was done for the same cost as a simple MSY-SEA-MSY with two nights in SEA. My itinerary would be as follows:

MSY-SEA - AS 73H - 6/12/14
SEA-GEG - AS 734 - 6/12/14
GEG-SEA - AS 734 - 6/13/14
SEA-LWS-BOI - QX DH4 - 6/13/14
BOI-SEA - QX DH4 - 6/14/14
SEA-LAS - AS 739 - 6/14/14
LAS-SFO - US 320 - 6/14/14
SFO-MSY - UA 320 - 6/14/14

Yep, that's right...

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-c3YIRONN9aw/U53n08wTDMI/AAAAAAAAEnc/MG5p5Nm9ueA/s800/map%2520%25281%2529.gif

I'd say that's a fair amount of flying.

Since I have so many flights to cover here, I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking. But first I'll give a review of the service I received on AS/QX/UA.

Alaska (and Horizon) did not disappoint me. The one thing that jumps out at me is how everyone had a smile on their face, ranging from the gate agents to the counter folks to the F/A's to the aircraft cleaners. Everyone was in a pleasant mood. Additionally, I was called by my last name no less than six or seven times..."Mr. XXX, have a great flight" or "Mr. XXX, so nice to have you aboard". I don't have status, I'm a not a big time FF...so things like that go a long way in my book. I've had a positive impression of the airline since I flew on them in 2006. This time, it was no different. Moving on from the service aspect, the planes themselves were clean and comfortable. It's funny how AS decided to put new Recaro slimline seats in and the seats are actually comfortable, while UA decides to put them in and they are just horrid. More on that later. There was not a point on the nearly five hour MSY-SEA where I felt uncomfortable in the seat. I really appreciated the easily accessible power ports in Y, also. I was also happy to see that the venerable 734's have received the old seats that used to be in the -800's. Big upgrade for that aircraft. Perhaps my only gripe was the somewhat cramped quarters in the Q400...but still, I'd rather take one of those over a CRJ. All in all, AS and QX gets a solid "A" from me. The airline genuinely seems interested in wanting your business. I know I'll be back. I'll be telling friends, too. And I'd be remiss if I forgot to mention the celebration at the gate in MSY. There must have been 10-15 AS reps in town for the opening, and some of them came around to talk to the passengers in the gate area, welcoming them aboard, thanking them for their business, etc. They had a table set up with brochures and info about the airline. And on board, they handed out "first flight" certificates to every passenger, and passed out Mardi Gras beads. It was the most fun I've had on a flight in a long, long time. Big props to the airport too for one of the most amazing slices of cake I've ever eaten.

United, for all the negative feedback they receive on this site, did a pretty nice job. Both the LAS-SFO and SFO-MSY were on time, and I even managed to snag an un-refurbished 320 on the LAS-SFO leg with WORKING Channel 9. I was pleasantly surprised. The flight crews were nice on both legs, as well. I guess my only complaint was the SFO-MSY leg on the 320 with the new slimline seats...Recaro, just like AS, but unlike AS, these seats are just terrible. I experienced them once before on IAH-MSY, but I figured they were worth a second chance. I can now safely say without hesitation that I'll be avoiding the UA Airbus fleet. That's too bad, too, because with the old seats they were one of the most comfortable planes in the fleet. The SFO-MSY was 3h45m and I was constantly shifting my position and trying to find some level of comfort. No dice. At least the overall good service on the ground and in the air made up for the discomfort somewhat. United gets a "B-". Not much in the way of amenities in coach (AS at least still manages to give you a free pack of snack mix, even on a 38min flight), but it got the job done. Pretty much par for the course for a major network carrier these days. I'd love to see UA soar to new heights. I'll fly with them again, but I won't necessarily go out of my way to do so.


June 12, 2014
Alaska 789
MSY-SEA
B737-800 "Employee Powered"
Dep: 1755
Arr: 2050
Load: 95%

Let me just say I had one of the best reuben's I've EVER had on this flight. It was warm and filling. For $6 I felt like it was a bargain. Flight time was about 4h50m. I didn't get a DigEplayer...instead, I listened to music most of the way and stared out the window. That's the only IFE I really need. There were three full beverage services on this flight. On a recent AA flight from MIA to LAX,, there was one and 1/2...one full, and one water/coffee only. Pretty sad.


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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sadly no pics from the SEA-GEG flight, AS 694, except this one at the gate. The 734 was completely full. Flight time was 38min. Every passenger had the choice of either water or OJ plus a snack pack. Great service for such a short flight. I love the 737 classic series...always have.



Here's where I stayed in GEG...Best Western Peppertree Inn...probably the nicest BW I've ever stayed in.



The airport itself was also very nice.



June 13, 2014
Alaska 685
GEG-SEA
Boeing 737-400 "Make A Wish"
Dep: 0940
Arr: 1040
Load: 100%

I was pretty happy when I saw the Make A Wish plane pull up to the gate. That made two special liveries in the space of three flights. I had seat 8A on this one, which affords a great view of the engine...aka, my perfect seat. Again the flight time was about 40min.


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During my layover in SEA, I stumbled upon a kiosk selling basically nothing but Pan Am swag. I was in heaven.


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June 13, 2014
Alaska/Horizon 2217
SEA-LWS-BOI
Dash 8 Q400 "San Diego State"
Dep SEA: 1415
Arr BOI: 1740 (via LWS)
Load: SEA-LWS 100%, LWS-BOI 60%

I was really looking forward to doing some more Q400 flying. It's been over two years since I'd been on one. And wouldn't
you know...another logo plane. Crazy. SEA-LWS was about 50min flying time. I tried the free beer...it was an IPA, which I don't like all that much, but it was cold and tasted decent enough. LWS-BOI was 38min flying time, but due to storms all around, there was no in flight service. I survived. I really like the Q400...sort of tight on the legroom, but it's a fun airplane.


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I stayed at the LaQuinta near the airport in BOI. It used to be a Holiday Inn Express but it recent switched brands after a long refurbishment. I think it came out quite nice.


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After getting a nice long sleep, it was back to the airport at 0730 to catch my flight back to SEA. I had the chance to work at the BOI airport for a few days with F9 in 2004 and it was a great experience.


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June 14, 2013
Alaska/Horizon 2502
SEA-BOI
Dash 8 Q400
Dep BOI: 0915
Arr SEA: 0950
Load: 100%

Flying time was 1h15m. Full beverage and snack service was offered. I was hoping to get some good shots of Mt. Rainier...and I did get a couple, but the clarity isn't the best. It wasn't exactly a great morning for taking pics out the window as we approached the SEA area.


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I had about an hour to kill before my flight to Vegas so I made my way over to the gate...N1. While waiting for my 739 to arrive from PHX, I saw this guy...



June 14, 2013
Alaska 638
SEA-LAS
Boeing 737-900
Dep SEA: 1150
Arr LAS: 1405
Load: 100%

I was hoping for a 900ER but instead I got a regular 900. No biggie. At least I had a window seat. One thing of interest was that there was no bulkhead or even curtain separating F and Y. Is this new on the -900 fleet? Highlight of this flight: enjoying an Alaska Summer Ale.


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While transiting from the E to D gates at LAS, I saw this and thought it was worth a picture. Very original.



Long live the 744,



June 14, 2013
United 258
LAS-SFO-MSY (change of gauge in SFO)
Airbus A320
Dep LAS: 1840
Arr: MSY: 0525+ (via SFO)
Load: LAS-SFO 95%, SFO-MSY 90%

I lucked out and had a middle seat open next to me on both segments. LAS-SFO was 1h25m. Channel 9 was working as I mentioned before, which made my day. Just a nice, relaxing, scenic flight. We landed at SFO at gate 65 and I had to go to the INTL terminal, gate 100, for the MSY leg. SFO-MSY was 3h45m and it really was a smooth flight the entire way. Legroom was great since I was in Y+, but the seat...oh, the seat.


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Thanks for checking out this trip report. Feedback always welcomed/appreciated.

[Edited 2014-06-15 13:11:00]

[Edited 2014-06-15 13:16:23]

[Edited 2014-06-15 13:46:22]
 
klkla
Posts: 847
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2004 8:51 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:46 pm

Nice report. Why do you suppose the exact same seats on AS were less comfortable when they were on a UA aircraft?
 
MSYtristar
Topic Author
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:53 pm

Quoting klkla (Reply 1):
Nice report. Why do you suppose the exact same seats on AS were less comfortable when they were on a UA aircraft?

Thanks!

They were similar, but not exactly the same. I think the AS seat had better padding on the cushion, more lumbar support, and the arm rests were in a better (higher) position.
 
usflyer msp
Posts: 3789
Joined: Tue May 23, 2000 11:50 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:25 pm

I have to agree that the slimline seats United chose to install are horrible. I have been on park benches that were more comfortable! The seats on the CRJ-700's are even worse than the Airbus version. I have always wondered how AS gets such great employees at their outstations even though they are outsourced. The Menzies staff in MSP are great as well. Glad you enjoyed your trip...
 
MSYtristar
Topic Author
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Mon Jun 16, 2014 12:53 am

Quoting usflyer msp (Reply 3):

I have to agree that the slimline seats United chose to install are horrible. I have been on park benches that were more comfortable! The seats on the CRJ-700's are even worse than the Airbus version.


It's amazing that a worse seat exists lol...wow. I'm making a note to avoid the CR7's now, as well. Thanks for the tip.

Quoting usflyer msp (Reply 3):
I have always wondered how AS gets such great employees at their outstations even though they are outsourced. The Menzies staff in MSP are great as well. Glad you enjoyed your trip...

Thanks for reading. And that's a good question. When I was checking in on the kiosk before the flight out of GEG (happened in MSY, too), someone came over and told me thanks for flying with AS, asked me how I was doing and asked me if I needed any assistance. That's pretty great customer service.
 
Carfield
Posts: 2185
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:11 am

Thanks for an interesting trip report!
You managed quite a number of special painted planes on AS/QX!

I really love Alaska Airlines' inaugural flight certificate, which is really unusual.

Thanks for sharing!

Carfield
 
MSYtristar
Topic Author
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:34 pm

Quoting Carfield (Reply 5):
Thanks for an interesting trip report!
You managed quite a number of special painted planes on AS/QX!

I really love Alaska Airlines' inaugural flight certificate, which is really unusual.

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

The inaugural flight certificate was certainly a nice surprise.
 
AA737-823
Posts: 5498
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:27 am

I'm an airline mechanic who does an awful lot of interior work, including seat stuff. So keep that in mind as you read my reply, particularly when I start talking about the CR7 seat:

It's virtually inconceivable that AS's park bench is more comfortable than UA's.
You and I both know that the airline doesn't make the seat, cushion, or cover. And UA opted for the "increased comfort pack" that Star Alliance partner and luxury carrier Looft-hanza opted out of.
I recently sat in a refurbished UA 319 and found the new seat to be perfectly competitive. Not pleasant, but no worse than other new-gen slimline seats I've sat upon.

Quoting usflyer msp (Reply 3):
I have to agree that the slimline seats United chose to install are horrible. I have been on park benches that were more comfortable!

Clearly you never flew on a Continental 737NG... we elites literally called the Koito coach seats "park benches". They remain the worst coach seat I've ever subjected myself to!

Quoting usflyer msp (Reply 3):
The seats on the CRJ-700's are even worse than the Airbus version.

I absolutely agree. The problem with the CR7 seat is that there IS NO CUSHION. At least, not on the seatback. Just the uncomfortable back pan, and two layers of pleather. Should you choose to use the 'headrest' portion of the seatback, you'll find that the back of your head hits solid plastic. They do look modern. Hooray.
I'll avoid the Skywest CR7 SFO-DFW run from now on. Which is a shame, because I really really enjoy flying on Skywest... great crews! Terrible new seats!
 
MSYtristar
Topic Author
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Alaska MSY Inaugural + GEG/BOI/LAS/SFO On AS/UA

Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:56 am

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 7):
It's virtually inconceivable that AS's park bench is more comfortable than UA's.

Appreciate your comments.

The seat cushion itself on AS was better padded. I didn't have to constantly move about this way and that trying to keep my rear end from being sore. In addition the arm rests were longer and higher up on the AS birds. That makes a big difference. Again, the seats were similar, but the version AS opted for is without question more comfortable than UA's. I've now been on 2 AS birds with the slimline seats and 2 UA birds and it's not even close.

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