Review of Alaska Airlines flight Austin San Jose in Domestic First

Airline Alaska Airlines
Flight AS301
Seat 2A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 03:40
Take-off 08 Feb 20, 08:32
Arrival at 08 Feb 20, 10:12
AS   #103 out of 139 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 67 reviews
YGeorgeW
By GOLD 708
Published on 16th February 2020

austin bergstrom airport


This would be my first flight on Alaska and my first visit to the West Coast since 2007. Time sure flies! I booked a one-way in first class from AUS to SJC because Alaska was running a sale and I had an Amex offer available. SJC was closer to the friends I was visiting than SFO (otherwise I probably would have gone with United).

As usual, I got to the Austin airport right before boarding started - the CLEAR and TSA Pre lines were empty this early Saturday morning. 


photo 20200208_072948

AS301 was departing from Gate 3, which blocked the view of the plane, unfortunately. Boarding began promptly at 7:45am with those needing assistance.


as301


When I booked the flight, it was an Alaska A320 with the seat map showing 3 rows in first class. However, before boarding, I noticed this sign on the fuselage, which indicated that this is an ex-Virgin plane.

Today I was flying on N365VA, an A320 delivered in June 2016. 


photo 20200208_075320

Here are the ex-Virgin America interiors, arranged in two rows of 2-2. I was seated in 2A. Small bottles of water were already waiting for me at the seat.


photo 20200208_075330-67074photo 20200208_075343

The seats are rather unique for current domestic F seats. There were literature pockets in front of the seat, with seat controls on the left and the IFE controls on the right. There are additional seat controls when you open the left armrest. The seat reclines quite far in both direction and has a fold down footrest. A power outlet can be found below the left armrest and the the audio jack is below the center armrest.



55 inches of pitch, quite impressive for an NA domestic F cabin.


photo 20200208_075432

During boarding we had the purple/blue Virgin mood lighting.


photo 20200208_075912-33885

Cari, the purser, offered orange juice, coffee, or something else for PDBs. I went with orange juice. Captain Rich announced at 8:09am there was a maintenance issue, but that it was already taken care of and we were just waiting on the paperwork. The flight time would be 3:27 today.


photo 20200208_080057

We pushed back at 8:32am (7 minutes behind schedule) and took off 10 minutes later.


photo 20200208_084326

After takeoff, I checked out the lavatory. The front lavatory on the A320 is as one would expect - cramped. No amenities to be found here.



Alaska offers meal pre-selection for domestic first on flights over a certain blocked time.


photo pre-order

Here is the on-board menu by comparison. The free tasting for two in Seattle seem like a great deal - has anyone taken advantage of this offer?



These ex-Virgin seats also have IFEs, which I discovered after takeoff. They were responsive and fairly crisp. My main complaint about them, however, was if you tilt them in any way, it is hard to set both IFE screens up where the side-by-side passengers can both view them comfortably.


photo 20200208_085812

There was a decent variety of movies and show, as well as a seat-to-seat chat function, and a good flight map. I chose to watch Creed this flight. Nothing spectacular, but a good addition to the Rocky franchise.



Orders were taken at 7 minutes after takeoff, with Cari informing me that I will be receiving my pre-ordered meal. Service began a short while after. I requested green tea to start.


photo 20200208_090341

For my pre-selected meal, I chose the winter breakfast bowl. Cari brought it all out on a single wooden tray approximately 45 minutes after takeoff. I really like the wooden trays Alaska goes with here. Often airline trays look like cafeteria trays and these have a bit more character to them. As for the meal itself, it was pretty good as far as domestic F breakfasts go.

Cari collected the tray very quickly after she noticed I was finished.


photo 20200208_093139

Approximately 90 minutes before landing, Cari came around with a snack basket filled with the usual granola, chips, etc . . . I chose an oatmeal cookie. Afterwards, the snack basket (which I neglected to take a picture of) was displayed in the galley for passengers to help themselves.


photo 20200208_102646

A few shots out of the window:



I noticed that the flight map still shows the plane with Virgin America livery.


photo 20200208_111749

About 30 minutes before landing, I asked Cari if it was too late for a cup of coffee. It wasn't. I only now discovered the little center trays - would have been handy during boarding, etc . . .


photo 20200208_113732photo 20200208_114509

Right before landing, mints were offered.


photo 20200208_115104

During our descent, I wasn't able to get my seat fully into an upright position because the lower footrest was still somewhat extended. Cari tried to help and manually reset the seat, but we weren't able to get it back into position. She said that it would be no problem for landing and we just let the seat stay as is. That's the problem with these Virgin America seats; the controls were very unresponsive.

We landed at 10:04AM PT. 


photo 20200208_120254

ANA 787!


photo 20200208_100947

We pulled up at Gate 22 at 10:12AM. Since San Jose is a small airport, I was curbside minutes later.


photo 20200208_101613copy
See more

Verdict

Alaska Airlines

7.8/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering7.5

Austin - AUS

8.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

San Jose - SJC

8.8/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Lounge: None

Cabin & Seat: I feel a little conflicted about these seats. On the one hand, they offer excellent legroom, great recline, are well-padded, and have IFEs. On the other hand, the controls are very unresponsive, there is very little storage space underneath them, and the setup with the IFEs make it difficult for both passengers to arrange at a comfortable angle.

Service: Cari provided excellent service. Throughout the flight she was enthusiastic and professional. Everything was handled with care and a bright smile. Any requests were taken care of promptly.

Meal & Catering: Breakfast is hard to cater for any airline, but Alaska did pretty well here. The meal was tasty and the fruits were fairly fresh.

Bottom Line: Alaska and Southwest are the only airlines that offer a direct to SJC from AUS. Due to the schedule, Southwest was not an option this Saturday. In addition, given how reasonably Alaska prices its F cabin, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this flight.

Related

8 Comments

  • Comment 542514 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 538 Comments

    Hi George,

    My… a lot of ex-Virgin A320s around here lately! Thanks for this review.

    I noticed this sign on the fuselage, which indicated that this is an ex-Virgin plane.

    Nothing like the concept of “enhancement” to make frequent fliers cringe.

    Lovely shot of AUS on departure!

    That breakfast looks decent. The fruit wouldn’t be my choice, but the main looks surprisingly good. Wouldn’t have been my first choice because I’m not sure about sweet potatoes for breakfast, but this doesn’t look bad at all.

    And I agree with you about the tray — I miss the “wood” DL trays.

    I noticed that the flight map still shows the plane with Virgin America livery.

    Mustn’t forget who we were, I suppose.

    Looks like a solid, if not spectacular, domestic F experience.

    Cheers!

  • Comment 542580 by
    YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

    Hey Hometoyyz, thanks for commenting.

    My… a lot of ex-Virgin A320s around here lately!

    - Enjoy it while you still can!

    Wouldn’t have been my first choice because I’m not sure about sweet potatoes for breakfast, but this doesn’t look bad at all.

    - I love sweet potatoes at any time, I'd recommend trying it if you haven't before. The other choice was an omelette and I've never enjoyed an airplane omelettes.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Comment 542828 by
    socalnow GOLD 980 Comments

    Thank your for sharing this flight YGeorgeW. These cabins are fading away, so it's nice to get one while you can.

    This would be my first flight on Alaska and my first visit to the West Coast since 2007.

    -Say what?!? Actually, I can't say I have been to Texas (as a destination, not a transit point), since around 1980 so...

    I noticed this sign on the fuselage, which indicated that this is an ex-Virgin plane.

    -That sign is hilarious! Maybe they should have gone with, "We're working to make this aircraft less comfortable with fewer entertainment choices."

    I really like the wooden trays Alaska goes with here.

    -Do you think they got a deal on used trays after Delta DC'd them a couple of years ago?

    The "Winter Breakfast Bowl" sounded great on the menu and looks fantastic too. I appreciate the effort at something interesting and healthy-ish.

    I feel a little conflicted about these seats.

    The cabin looked to be in good shape except for the seat mal-function. Would you prefer this configuration to the standard Alaska 737 config?

    Happy flying.

  • Comment 542837 by
    YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

    Hi Christian, thanks for commenting!

    Say what?!? Actually, I can't say I have been to Texas (as a destination, not a transit point), since around 1980

    - Well, if I didn't live here, not sure I would visit so much if not for friends and BBQ.

    Maybe they should have gone with, "We're working to make this aircraft less comfortable with fewer entertainment choices."

    - I wonder what AA would put on their planes undergoing Oasis retrofits.

    Do you think they got a deal on used trays after Delta DC'd them a couple of years ago?

    - I wouldn't rule it out haha.

    The cabin looked to be in good shape except for the seat mal-function. Would you prefer this configuration to the standard Alaska 737 config?

    - I think the lack of maintenance has a lot to do with how I viewed this seat. In terms of design though, I wouldn't have both IFE screens come out of the same armrest, but I would still prefer IFE over no IFE. So overall, I still prefer this seat over the standard 737 configuration.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

  • Comment 543284 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5136 Comments

    Perfect example of a midcon!...a flight from the middle of the continent (From upper midwest to Texas) to the West Coast.

    Those "Stay Tuned as we Alaska-fy the inside of this plane" stickers make me cringe because I think to myself "Noooooo! Please don't!" LOL

    "During our descent, I wasn't able to get my seat fully into an upright position because the lower footrest was still somewhat extended. Cari tried to help and manually reset the seat, but we weren't able to get it back into position."
    - Crazy how on my last 2 ex-VX reports, the same thing happened to at least 1 pax on each flight--such a shame they're making no effort to maintain these cabins---they'll still be flying for a while since they can't retrofit the new cabins in over night. Not acceptable to have broken seats it what seems like every ex-VX plane! 3 out of 3 reports is pretty damning!

    Thanks for sharing and long live VX!

    • Comment 543374 by
      YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

      Thanks for reading Kevin!

      Perfect example of a midcon!...a flight from the middle of the continent (From upper midwest to Texas) to the West Coast.

      - Yes indeed. Now that I've lived in Texas for almost three years, most of my domoestic flights are midcons (to either coast). I'm just surprised I hadn't heard the term before you brought it up.

      Crazy how on my last 2 ex-VX reports, the same thing happened to at least 1 pax on each flight--such a shame they're making no effort to maintain these cabins

      - Yea, like I noted above, that's probably what drives my indecision on these seats. Maybe that's all part of the strategy to make us think the newer seats are an enhancement.

      Thanks again!

  • Comment 543446 by
    BigBert10 4 Comments

    Nice report! Just a small fyi, SJC is not actually a small airport (unless you are looking at it from its landmass). It is actually a more medium-sized airport.

    • Comment 543946 by
      YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

      Thanks for reading BigBert!

      Yea, I always think of airports from a physical-size perspective because the most important thing to me is how fast I can maneuver through it. SJC is definitely not small based on passenger traffic.

Login to post a comment.