Report No: 2021-402
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this brand new series where I would present Alaska Airlines for the first time. Alaska Airlines has recently joined the oneworld alliance and had a 30% off sale that was valid on all their flights in December 2020 so I decided to try them on one of my US domestic trips.
So, in the second and last episode of this series, I would try the Alaska Airlines Domestic First product from Los Angeles to Washington National on their A321neo with recliner seats. Before this flight, I had the opportunity to visit the Alaska Airlines Lounge in Los Angeles Terminal 6 and you would be able to see a brief review of that in this report.
Here is the routing for this series;
Loads for this flight
Domestic First: 100%
Premium Class: 95-100%
Main Cabin: 95-100%
I have checked-in to this flight about 24 hours before departure and I kept my pre-assigned seat which was seat 4F
About 1h40 minutes before departure, I have arrived at Los Angeles Airport's Terminal 6 where Alaska Airlines flight operate from
There were only one Priority check-in desk open at that time, although the wait was minimal so I was quickly checked-in by a friendly agent and dropped my checked baggage.
Here are the FIDS for Terminal 6 departures, the majority of the flights operating from this terminal are Alaska Airlines flights
There wasn't any priority security lane offered by Alaska so I needed to use the regular lane which meant that I waited 5-10 minutes to be screened. TSA Pre and Clear passengers had a dedicated lane if they have the respective memberships.
Hand sanitizers were widely available throughout the terminal
As I had time before boarding I decided to visit the Alaska Lounge at Terminal 6. Unlike other US domestic carriers an Alaska Airlines Domestic First ticket would give you free lounge access, however, you must be on a revenue First Class ticket and upgrades/non-revenue passengers still require a membership.
However, if Alaska didn't offer free lounge access to their Domestic First passengers, I would have able to access the lounge by my British Airways Executive Club Gold status as non-AAdvantage and non-MileagePlan oneworld elites could still access oneworld lounges before oneworld flights even if they are flying on a US domestic flight despite their travel class.
After being welcomed by one of the lounge agents at the entry, I glimpsed around and realized the lounge was very crowded and it was difficult to find a seat due to social distancing requirements and blocked seats. However, there was a circulation going on with passengers leaving and entering so I was able to find an open seat in a minute.
So, due to local restrictions at Los Angeles, all food and beverages must be served by someone so the self-service buffet was closed. Here is the menu for the day.
I have opted for the soup and the pancakes which were served with real silverware.
The lounge also has a bar where you could get alcoholic beverages and tea/coffee. There are some complimentary drinks, however, you must pay for most of the alcoholic beverages.
Closer to boarding I have left the lounge and headed to the boarding gate.
The gate area was crowded even 1h30 minutes before departure ( I took this photo before heading to the lounge ). It was going to be a full flight this day.
Photos of N921VA would be the bird operating today's flight. This bird was the first A321neo that was delivered for Virgin America and after the merger, it was obviously transferred to the Alaska Airline fleet.
Before boarding, the gate area was crowded.
Boarding started on time, however, with a few active US military members and passengers requiring extra assistance, it took a while for First Class passengers to be invited.
Also, the barcode reader tablet was slow at scanning boarding passes and that was another reason that the boarding process was a bit slow.
After being welcomed by the crew, I have headed to my seat 4F. ( As my neighbor in 4D has boarded before me, I took this photo after our arrival at DCA in order not to disturb him )
Here is the legroom which is decent
The seats were familiar to me as they were the same exact seats that you could find on a Turkish Airlines A321neo or Boeing 737MAX in Business Class.
As you might realize, there wasn't any written literature other than the inflight guide and the safety card.
Our neighbor was this SkyWest Embraer
The overhead panel
All seats in the Domestic First Cabin already had a bottle of water and an hand sanitizer wipe in the armrest ready.
Each seat in the Domestic First cabin had USB ports and power outlets
While boarding was going on, our neighbor had changed as another Alaska SkyWest Embraer had parked at gate 65A.
After boarding was completed, the cabin crew performed the safety demo and we have started our pushback.
On the way to the runway, I did a decent amount of spotting starting with this American Airlines A321neo
Kalitta Air 747F
Viva Aerobus A320 which had recently landed ( presumably from Mexico )
Emirates SkyCargo 777F
DHL aircraft at the freight terminal
And after a 5-10 minute taxi, it was our time to takeoff and here is a JetBlue A321 taxiing
Japan Airlines 777-300ER in front of Terminal 4
Tom Bradley International Terminal where it's possible to spot European and Asian carriers
The Midfield Satellite Concourse that should be opening in the next few months
Some wide-bodies at remote stands
Some Qantas A380's at remote stands
And we were over the Pacific Ocean
After a slight turn towards the east, the lead cabin crew introduced herself and verified my pre-ordered food option. She also asked my drink choice and shortly later the service had begun.
As a beverage, I have opted for some red-wine which was drinkable but not that perfect.
Today's meal options were the Ham & Cheese sandwich and the Fruit&Cheese Plate. As the latter wouldn't count as a lunch option, I had pre-ordered the sandwich.
By the way, Alaska Airlines have already restored hot meals on their transcontinental flights, and I missed the return of the hot meals on these routes by a few days.
The sandwich was served with some sauce which I don't remember and a small chocolate. Although, I am not a fan of pre-packaged food on premium cabins, the sandwich was tasty and decent. Compared to American's Turkey & Havarti sandwich that I had multiple times, this sandwich is certainly much better.
This flight was also equipped with Wi-Fi and personal device entertainment.
Here are the package options for this flight.
The mobile IFE menu
On this flight, I have watched a movie to entertain myself and midway on the flight, the lead flight attendant appeared with the snack basket and offered drinks as well.
A view at that time
If we look at the seatback pocket content, as I mentioned before, it is limited to the inflight guide and the safety card
Information about the drink choices and entertainment options was available at the inflight guide.
On the back, there was a credit card advertisement.
Somewhere where I was enjoying my movie, I have hit the call button to request some mint tea, however, one of the FA's that was mostly serving Economy Class ignored the call button even when I came face to face with her, however, another FA came seconds later and shortly, my mint tea was served. Other than the weird action ( ignoring my call button signal ) by that specific crew, all the crew were totally perfect and that is the reason why I wouldn't give 10/10 for the crew in the ratings.
After I finished my movie, I have checked the route map and we had about 1h13 minutes to landing
I decided to visit the lavatory which was clean at that time
On the way back to my seat, I have grabbed some candy and a bottle of water from the snack basket which was available at the front galley. At that time, the lead FA asked how was the flight going so far and I thanked her for the excellent service at that time.
About 45 minutes before landing, the cabin crew appeared one more time, this time for the cookie service.
The cookie was a Chocolate Chip cookie and was delicious.
The cabin crew, also asked if the passengers would like any drinks and I have opted for a mint tea.
Later on, the preparations for landing has started and trash was collected
National Harbor, MD
MGM Casino at National Harbor, MD
Shortly later, we have landed at DCA
After a short taxi, we were going to park at gate 18.
Shortly later the seatbelt signs have been switched off and after gathering my belongings and saying goodbye to the crew, I have left the aircraft.
Last shot of N921VA from the terminal
That evening, the terminal was deserted and the only passengers were those arriving from our flight
Bags were going to arrive at Carousel 3. After a 10-15 minute wait, bags have arrived with the respect of priorities and my bags were one of the first ones to arrive.
After picking up my checked baggage, I have headed to the metro station and luckily the train was arriving at that time so I didn't wait over there.
And this journey has come to an end.
A more exclusive series would be coming up soon so stay tuned with Flight-Report.
Once again, thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
So, my first Alaska Domestic First flight was great especially compared to the price I paid for this segment. Although their hard-product is not the best hard-product within the US, the seats are comfortable and the amenities were sufficient for a domestic transcontinental flight. The service level from the crew was fantastic onboard and if one of the crew members didn't ignore my call button sign, I would have rated them 10/10. The Wi-Fi and entertainment options were sufficient, although, it was a bit bad to have pre-packaged food on this flight as a main meal, however, Alaska has restored hot meals on their transcontinental flights and I hope that I'll get a better meal on my next AS F flight. However, the quality of the sandwich was good and the cookie that was served prior to landing was delicious. The ground experience at LAX was also pleasant, other than no priority lane being available at security everything was OK. The lounge was above my expectations and at the time I travelled, I could easily say that the Alaska Lounge had the best offerings among all the lounges open in the entire airport. Also, I would not forget the excellent lounge team which were friendly and helpful.
To conclude this report and series, I could tell that I was very content with Alaska Airlines and I would definitely consider flying them in future travels. I don't want to give a hint on which route I'll fly them in the future but more AS reports would be coming later during the year if my plans don't change. Yes, they might not be part of the legacy US3, although they are not worse than the US3 and they are definitely a flyable airline within the USA.
(+) Efficient check-in process
(+) Acceptable wait for security
(+) Priorities respected throughout boarding
(-) No priority lane available for security
Alaska Lounge T6
(+) Decent food offerings compared to other US airline clubs
(+) Beverage selection including the availability of handcrafted espresso based beverages
(+) Friendly lounge staff
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) Wi-Fi and entertainment options
(+) Presence of power outlets and USB ports
(+) Excellent crew
(+) Lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight
(-) Only pre-packaged food being available on this flight
(+) Bags arrived within a reasonable time and with the respect of priority