Review of Alaska Airlines flight San Diego Washington in Domestic First

Airline Alaska Airlines
Flight AS322
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 05:00
Take-off 24 Dec 23, 08:00
Arrival at 24 Dec 23, 16:00
AS   #54 out of 94 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 85 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 678
Published on 16th March 2024

introduction


Like every year, we headed home to France for the Holidays, and like most years, we made a stop on the East Coast for a few days to visit with family and friends. 

When flying domestically from my home airport of San Diego, I try to fly Alaska Airlines as much as possible. As a oneworld flyer, I was glad when Alaska re-started nonstop flights between San Diego and Washington, DC in 2023 after having suspended the route for several years since the pandemic. 


routing


Reviews in this series:


Routing

  • AS322 - Domestic First - San Diego ✈ Washington - Boeing 737-800 You are here
  • BA114 - Business - New York ✈ London - Boeing 787-10 Past
  • BA378 - Business - London ✈ Toulouse - Airbus A321neo Coming soon
  • IB3162 - Business - Madrid ✈ London - Airbus A330-300 Coming soon
  • BA273 - Business - London ✈ San Diego - Airbus A350-1000 Coming soon

photo routing-san-iad

check-in & lounge


Eastbound transcon schedules are never great, you either have to leave early in the morning to arrive at a decent afternoon hour, or do a dreaded overnight redeye.

For our 8AM flight, we had to get up at O'dark thirty to arrive at the airport by 6:30AM. I really don't like early morning flights, but the bright side is that morning flight are almost always on time–and an 8AM departure is still much better than a 6AM departure. 


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The Alaska ticket counters were all decorated for the Holidays. There was no wait for check-in at the First class counters and service was efficient and friendly as always. 


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While the regular TSA line was super long, there was no one in the TSA Pre-check lane, which is typical around holidays. We were through in a few minutes and headed to the Aspire lounge as we still had about an hour before boarding.

The Aspire Lounge is accessible with Priority Pass.


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It was a lot less crowded than usual on this Christmas Eve morning. The complimentary food offering is pretty basic, with mostly snacks, cereals, pastries, and fruit at this time of day. I believe you can order hot food from a menu for a fee. It's similar with drinks with complimentary beer and wine, but most other "premium" drinks for a fee. 


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Boarding


We could see our aircraft from the lounge so we knew we didn't have far to go. We headed out to the gate about 5 minutes before scheduled boarding time. 


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Boarding has just started as we arrived at the gate.

Like most 737-800s, this one still had the old cabins, which are pretty comfortable, but beginning to look dated. 


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Speaking of dated…I know this carpet bulkhead design has Alaskan cultural significance, and it's pretty, but looks out of place on an aircraft and just feels old. 


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Legroom is very good in the bulkhead row, but bags must be stored in the overhead lockers during takeoff and landing. 


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The Wi-Fi and streaming entertainment systems are available from gate-to-gate


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Alaska offer free messaging and entertainment, while Wi-Fi costs $8, which is a decent value compared to most other carriers. 


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As a T-Mobile customer, however, I get free Wi-Fi, which I always appreciate!


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The wireless streaming entertainment has a good amount of content, certainly enough choices for domestic flights. 


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the flight


We left the gate a few minutes early.


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Taxi time was short, as usual at SAN. 

Awesome views of Mission Bay and Mission Beach on takeoff. 


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Each seat has a combo AC Power + USB unit. 


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The lead flight attendant, Brad, was among the best cabin crew I'd ever seen. He was very genuinely kind and welcoming to all passengers from the second they stepped on the aircraft. Shortly after takeoff, he addressed the First class cabin by speaking directly to the cabin standing in row 1 and promised to take good care of everyone, also wishing all Happy Holidays. It's so refreshing to see someone who takes so much pride in their work. Alaska cabin crew are always very good, but this was above and beyond. 

As he came around to take drink orders, he confirmed our pre-ordered meal options. In chatting with him, I mentioned that I thought it was a shame that there's never been an option to request a child meal–it seems child meals in First class just aren't a thing at Alaska. Being that my son is only four-years-old and can never finish full-sized meals on planes, I asked what the dish came with to try to avoid any waste and just take out some parts that could be used for someone else, or even the crew themselves, I suggested.

Brad went out of his way to proactively find a solution that would work for everyone. He went to the back and brought up a Kid's meal pack from the Buy-on-board selection and offered it to my son, which he absolutely loved because it was much more fun than a boring adult meal. 


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Brad offered to still bring the pre-ordered meal, but I said it would be a waste and to please give it to anyone who may want it so that it didn't go to waste. I figure there's always someone who may not be happy with the meal option they got or even the cabin crew could have it. 

For my meal I'd pre-ordered the Southwest Ranchero Eggs, which I'd had before and enjoyed–it always seems to be on the menu for breakfast flights on this route. In fact I'm taking this flight again in a few days and pre-ordered it again, haha. 

Southwest Ranchero Eggs
Chorizo sausage, toasted farro, marinated pinto beans, cage-free scrambled eggs, cotija cheese, salsa verde, and scallion


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The Kid's meal box came with some fun puzzles and games, which helped to pass the time on this 4.5 hour flight. 


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The Wi-Fi portal has a rudimentary flight map. It's definitely simple, but it's always nice to have an idea where you are on longer flights. 


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Throughout the flight, the cabin crew were checking on passengers, refilling drinks, and offering snacks. They were definitely not hiding in the galleys as is a common complaint on many other airlines. 


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Towards the end of the flight, Brad handed me this lovely hand-written thank you note addressed to me and my son. I honestly don't think I've ever had that happen on any flight despite having held oneworld Emerald status for almost a decade. Like I said, absolutely outstanding service–and of course I later sent in a compliment to Alaska customer relations. 


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Soon enough we were making our descent into Washington-Dulles as we crossed the Appalachian mountains. 


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On pulling in to the gate I remember being jealous when I saw a 737 MAX 9 at the gate nextdoor as I was supposed to have an Alaska MAX 9 for a work trip a few weeks prior but got swapped out to a 900. I was disappointed at the time as I'd never gotten to fly an Alaska MAX…then of course, just a 10 days later came the door plug incident…Suddenly I was in less of a hurry to try out the MAX 9. 


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Though we've been in Southern California for a few years now, walking into the terminal at Dulles (or DCA) always feels like coming home, having spent such a big part of my life in the DC area. 


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Despite taking our time getting to baggage claim, especially since we had to hop on the underground train, our baggage still hadn't come out. Another super-customer-friendly policy at Alaska Airlines is their 20-minute baggage delivery guarantee. Alaska aim to have your bags delivered within 20 minutes of the aircraft's arrival or they'll offer you your choice of 2,500 Alaska miles or a $25 discount voucher. Now that's customer service!

And indeed it took more than 20 minutes to get our bags delivered so we were able to claim a voucher at baggage claim with no problem. It's this great customer-oriented culture that keeps me coming back to Alaska.

See more

Verdict

Alaska Airlines

8.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Meal/catering8.0

Aspire Lounge - 2

5.6/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering5.0
Entertainment/wifi5.5
Services6.0

San Diego - SAN

8.5/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Washington - IAD

8.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

A very nice transcon flight with an exceptionally good cabin crew. The lead flight attendant was among the best I'd ever seen--his good humour was infectious and he was incredibly attentive, doing his job to perfection, and even going above and beyond. The seats are very spacious and comfortable for a day flight, but I am looking forward to the installation of the new cabins, which have tablet holders. Alaska have a very good amount of content on the streaming IFE system and I absolutely love that I get free Wi-Fi on all Alaska flights as a T-Mobile customer.

Alaska recently announced they'll be accelerating the refresh of the 737-800 cabins so I can't want to try those out.

Related

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 646821 by
    NGO85 SILVER 1972 Comments
    Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing this FR!

    Speaking of dated…I know this carpet bulkhead design has Alaskan cultural significance

    Ahhh, the carpet bulkheads on AS. Standing the test of time from the old B734s in the 80s to now.

    For my meal I'd pre-ordered the Southwest Ranchero Eggs

    Those wood trays remind me of the old DL ones. Makes more sense on AS since it ties in with their Pacific Northwest roots. Overall a good looking offering for breakfast, though not convinced by the farro. Surprising to see they have a kid’s meal pack on AS, UA certainly does not have anything child-centric. I think UA only does CHML on flights >2000 miles, so pretty much only transcons qualify (LAX/SFO-IAD/EWR/BOS).

    I honestly don't think I've ever had that happen on any flight

    Not sure which is better, the note or Brad’s penmanship on a plane. I’ve only gotten mementos on Japanese carriers so definitely not something one expects to see domestically.

    AS is definitely one of the best domestically due to their good soft product, never had a bad experience with them though probably only fly them 1-2x per year when they offer a better option ex-SJC down to SoCal. Even with the age of these cabins, they did have the foresight to put in USB charging >10 years ago which does set them apart from the older AA/UA products.
    • Comment 646844 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 6731 Comments
      Ahhh, the carpet bulkheads on AS. Standing the test of time from the old B734s in the 80s to now.

      Haha yeah I don't know how to feel about them. They're pretty on their own, but not in a cabin...at least not in 2024. I think there could be a more modern way to convey this traditional Alaskan design.

      Those wood trays remind me of the old DL ones.

      Yep exactly, though I think the AS version looks a bit better

      Overall a good looking offering for breakfast, though not convinced by the farro.

      It's creative for breakfast--definitely a nice change from the boring omelettes you usually get on the US3. Granted, I fly AS so often that I've had this a few times and am getting kind of bored because the options don't seem to change much.

      I think UA only does CHML on flights >2000 miles, so pretty much only transcons qualify (LAX/SFO-IAD/EWR/BOS).

      Yeah, I've never seen AA do them in Domestic First either, seems silly considering they let you pre-order, a CHML could easily be one of the options.

      Not sure which is better, the note or Brad’s penmanship on a plane.

      I know, beautiful handwriting. I'm rarely impressed when people write in print as I grew up knowing only cursive in France, but I definitely noticed how nice the handwriting was. Maybe because he was Australian--which also added to the friendliness factor.

      AS is definitely one of the best domestically due to their good soft product

      Yes, the hard product just needs to catch up. It's crazy they put in brand new cabins on all the ex-VX A320 family to then just get rid of them a few years later. Kind of a waste when they could have been refreshing the 737s all this time.

      though probably only fly them 1-2x per year when they offer a better option ex-SJC down to SoCal.

      Funny whenever I go to the Bay Area I usually take AS into SJC. They always seem to have really cheap F fares between SoCal and SJC.

      Thanks for stopping by!
  • Comment 646927 by
    airberlin GOLD 1879 Comments
    Hi Kevin,
    thanks again for this great review with customer service above and beyond! As you said probably better that you did not get the MAX9... I did not know for the 25$ voucher - I really want to try out Alaska once but see little chance as long as my travels continue to bring me mostly to the mid-west.
    Moving now to the next leg.
    Thanks again, Vincent
    • Comment 646979 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 6731 Comments
      Salut Vincent, thanks for your comments!

      I really want to try out Alaska once but see little chance as long as my travels continue to bring me mostly to the mid-west.

      Ah yes, much like JetBlue, Alaska seem to mostly avoid the Midwest, also known as "Fly-over country" by people on either coast. Aside from a few cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, Alaska have a really small presence in the middle of the country, but hopefully now that they're in oneworld, it can help them to develop more markets.
  • Comment 647014 by
    emworksintv BRONZE 7 Comments
    Great trip report, seems like Alaska is a really good airline which I've not had a chance to fly yet. In fact all of my domestic US flights have been on United...!
    Alaska aim to have your bags delivered within 20 minutes of the aircraft's arrival or they'll offer you your choice of 2,500 Alaska miles or a $25 discount voucher.

    I wish all airlines offered this!
    • Comment 647047 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 6731 Comments
      As a oneworld flyer, Alaska have been consistently good in terms of service and reliability in my experience. They're very customer-oriented and proactive. Flying on AA domestically is always hit or miss, so I try to fly AS whenever possible, though their route map is a lot more limited than AA's. Luckily for me, AS are the biggest airline at my home airport of SAN so they have more nonstop destinations than any other carrier.

      I wish all airlines offered this!

      Me too...this is always a sore spot of flying with AA or BA...the looooong wait for bags. I believe Delta do this, though they may have stopped recently, but they definitely did it for years.

      Thanks for your comments!

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