Review of Alaska Airlines flight San Diego Washington in Domestic First

Airline Alaska Airlines
Flight AS322
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 737-900ER
Flight time 04:50
Take-off 19 Mar 24, 08:05
Arrival at 19 Mar 24, 15:55
AS   #55 out of 95 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 85 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 641
Published on 3rd June 2024

introduction


Hello and welcome to this short series of flight reviews in Alaska Airlines Domestic First class.

In these reviews we'll just be doing a quick roundtrip out to Washington, DC—nothing terribly exciting, but there were some new lounges for me to try on the return leg.

As a oneworld flyer living in Southern California (most of the year), I love having Alaska Airlines hubs and focus cities in the area.  For domestic and regional travel, Alaska have been my go-to carrier for years and try to fly them whenever possible. 

Though Alaska aren't a small airline by any measure, compared to the big guys, they still have that small carrier feel as they remain very customer-focused and, in my personal experience, are the most consistently pleasant US carrier to fly. This mostly comes down to consistently friendly service from airport agents and cabin crews—flying Alaska dozens of times every year, I have never once come across grumpy or rude staff. The same cannot be said about most other US airlines and this makes a big difference to me. 



routing


Reviews in this series:


Routing

  • AS322 - Domestic First - San Diego ✈ Washington - Boeing 737-900ER You are here
  • AS507 - Domestic First - Washington ✈ San Diego - Boeing 737-800 Coming soon

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Check-in & lounge


The majority of trancon schedules from San Diego (and the West Coast in general) aren't great—the two main departure banks are early in the morning arriving in the afternoon, or overnight redeye flights. Unless it's a route with a lot of frequency, those are often the choices, so I usually go for morning flights as I really dislike short redeye flights. Currently Alaska only operate one daily flight to Washington-Dulles, which departs at 8AM. Not terribly early, but it still means a 5AM wake-up. 

I arrived at Terminal 2 before the sun had risen. The morning bank of flights can be pretty busy, but it was surprisingly quiet. I'd checked in 24 hours prior on the app and didn't have any bags to check for the short 3-day trip so I headed right to security. Neither the regular nor TSA Pre-check lanes spilled over into the overflow lanes, which is quite rare at this time of day. 


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With TSA Pre-check I was through in minutes. My gate just happened to be the first gate coming out of TSA Pre-check, but there was still plenty of time before boarding. 


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Got a nice look at our aircraft as the sun began to come up over the horizon. 


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As I had some extra time to kill, thanks to security going faster than usual, I headed to the Aspire Lounge. 


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I was pleasantly surprised to find out that because this lounge is part of the Alaska Lounge network that I had access with my transcon First class ticket and did not have to take out my Priority Pass. Note that complimentary lounge access for paid First class tickets is only available for flights over 2000 miles. Nevertheless, Alaska are still more generous than any other US airline as they are the only airline to include lounge access with domestic First class. 

And for once, it wasn't packed!


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I've mostly been here in the evenings before a British Airways flight when it's just absolutely slammed. I don't think I've ever seen it this empty! I hate getting up so early to catch a flight, but this made it a bit more pleasant to ease into the morning. 


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As usual, nothing terribly exciting as far as food, but a decent offering by US lounge standards. There were also cereals, bagels, breads for toast, and croissants. 


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boarding


As there wasn't far to walk, I only headed to the gate a few minutes before boarding time. 


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Alaska have an impressive operation at San Diego, though it's technically more of a focus city, than a hub. Nevertheless, I definitely appreciate that they have a large presence here and offer the most nonstop destinations from SAN. 


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After pre-boarding and Active military boarding (This is pretty common in the US), Group A was called, comprised of First class and Alaska MVP Gold 100K members. 


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Unsurprisingly, this 737-900 had old cabins—New cabins are found mostly on the 737 MAX fleet anymore. Alaska had retrofitted all ex-Virgin America A320 family aircraft after the merger, but ended up retiring them all just a few years later. The 737NG fleet is being refreshed slowly but surely, so it's still very rare to find a new cabin. 


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While the cabins may be getting old, the seats are very comfortable, and with a seat pitch of 40", it's the most legroom in Domestic First class. 


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Each seat has a combo 110v universal power outlet with USB-A port. 


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Unlike fellow US oneworld carrier AA, AS are more consistent about service pre-departure drinks. The options were water, orange juice, or sparkling wine. Ok it's in a paper cup, not great, but PDBs are rarely ever served in glass on domestic flights. 


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The wireless in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi are available from gate-to-gate, which is great. Standard pricing for the Wi-Fi is $8, a decent price compared to other US carriers. 


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But for me it's free, thanks to T-Mobile! I really love that I get free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights operated by major US carriers.


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If you're a US-based T-Mobile customer, you just enter you mobile phone number…


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And Voilà! Free unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi and texting for the duration of the flight. 


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The streaming entertainment is free for everyone, of course, and has tons of content including hundreds of movies, TV shows, music, audio books, documentaries, and children's programming. 


the flight


Boarding wrapped up quickly and we pushed back from the gate on time. 


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Taxi time was quick, just waiting on one aircraft to land. 


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Flying in and out of SAN is always scenic, especially on a nice sunny day. 


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Mornings tend to be foggy with the marine layer later in the spring and early summer, but it was perfectly clear on this mid-March morning. 


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Flying over Cabrillo National Monument on the end of the Point Loma peninsula as we made a turn back inland after takeoff. 


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This always gives the left side of the aircraft amazing views of the city. 


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Looking north towards Mission Bay and La Jolla and Torrey Pines further in the distance. 


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Coronado Island and its wide white sand beaches. 


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There's a basic little map on the Wi-Fi/Entertainment portal. 


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As usual, the flight path took us to the south of Mount Miguel and my neighbourhood at the food of the mountain. 


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Always fun to see my house when flying in or out of SAN. 


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Once over the mountains it's desert and intensive agriculture as far as the eye can see. 


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It's crazy to see such of huge green area in the desert. The agriculture in the Imperial valley, on the southern shores of the Salton Sea, is possible in large part to irrigation from the Colorado river. 


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One thing I'm looking forward to with the new cabins are eye-level tablet holders. This is one of the main things missing with the old cabins—not having anywhere to put tablets, except for the tray table, so it's not really possible to watch something while eating. 


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There was an initial drink service shortly after takeoff. I had a mimosa, a healthy breakfast beverage. 


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More desert agriculture. 


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After agriculture in the middle of the desert is a big city in the middle of the desert: Phoenix, Arizona 


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PHX Phoenix Skyharbor International Airport


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Downtown Phoenix


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Further along, found some snow in the higher elevations of the Southern Rockies


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Meals were served about an hour into the flight. I had pre-ordered online, which is always a nice option to ensure you receive your preferred option. 

There were 5 options for pre-order, quite a lot compared to most other carriers. On board there were only 3 options for those who hadn't pre-ordered. 


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Southwest Huevos Rancheros
Chicken chorizo sausage, marinated pinto beans, cage-free scrambled eggs
Cotija cheese, salsa verde, and scallion

Served with a warm pastry, granola, and yogurt


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Overall very good and nice and spicy with the hot sauce and salsa verde. It's nice to see an interesting twist on the normal "eggs and sausage" breakfast. 

Flying over the colourful mountains and deserts of New Mexico. 


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The city of Albuquerque on the banks of the Rio Grande


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A little later I discovered the Great Salt Plains and Lake of Northern Oklahoma. 


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The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. Cabin crew came by often to refill drinks and brought out a snack basket towards the end of the flight.


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We began the descent over West Virginia and the Appalachian Mountains. 


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It's rare to have a to have such a sunny, cloudless flight from coast to coast, especially in March!


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We landed from the north crossing over the Potomac river on final approach. 


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There's no mistaking we're at Washington-Dulles airport with the iconic Saarinen main terminal building and the "moon buggy" mobile lounges. 


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One thing I loved about Dulles when I lived here was the diversity of international airlines here. 


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Having lived many years in DC, flying into Dulles, or Reagan, always feels like coming home. 


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It was a quiet time as I had a train car to the main terminal all to myself. 


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Advertisement for the new Capital One Lounge on exiting. I'll be checking that out on the return flight!


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See more

Verdict

Alaska Airlines

8.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering7.5

Aspire Lounge - 2

7.0/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering6.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services7.5

San Diego - SAN

8.6/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Washington - IAD

8.5/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

As usual, a solid experience with Alaska Airlines in Domestic First. Alaska cabin crews are consistently friendly and attentive, the seats are comfortable and spacious (though getting old), and the catering is just a bit better than on the big US3 legacy carriers.

Information on the route San Diego (SAN) Washington (IAD)

Les contributeurs de Flight-Report ont posté 3 avis concernant 2 compagnies sur la ligne San Diego (SAN) → Washington (IAD).


Useful

La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Alaska Airlines avec 7.0/10.

La durée moyenne des vols est de 4 heures et 33 minutes.

  More information

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