After a short week end in Seattle, we are back in the air for our flights to Alaska, and to be precise, to Fairbanks via Anchorage. The reason for the via Anchorage is that at time of booking there was no better flight and the direct one was at a non convenient schedule for me.
Very fast transfer to SEA/TAC with Shuttle Express, express check in at the First Class desk and we'll breeze through security.
A 737-900ER at a gate:
Our flight was leaving from terminal N but there is no lounge there. You need to go to concourse D where the sole AS Board Room is. It is to be mentioned that one can access the lounge with a F/Class ticket without being on an international correspondence/flight. Unlike other US Airlines AS does allow access to the lounge to regular F/Class passengers. Here is the lounge that is spread over two floors:
The food selection is quite good, better than other airlines. A bit of spotting from the lounge, and our drinks:
Shortly before boarding time, we take the shuttle train to concourse N:
Our plane is there, together with an AS 738 Hawaii livery:
On time boarding and well organized boarding(Assistance + Military personnel / F/Cl and AS status passengers / Other status passengers / Row 20 and higher / All passengers). Here is the cabin that I find quite nice:
Water is already available:
Leg room, happy Papa and a bailey's as PDD:
My bailey's little brother:
How come two PDD's? The captain had just made an announcement that one of the position lamp on our left wing was out of order. As it is part of the MEL (Minimum Equipment List), they need to fix it before we go. That will delay us for 45 minutes. The crew did then a secound round of PDD's.
Mechanic a work:
After a good hour, we are all invited to leave the aircraft the repair was going to take more time than planned. The captain kept us updated during the whole wait, in the cabin and in the lounge.
Unfortunately the gate agents are not that good and can't manage all reroutings in an ordely manneer. No distinction is made between First and Coach passenger. When it comes to my turn, I was informed that we are 15 pax to FAI, all in the same case, and that the connecting flight won't wait for us. Next flights to FAI at 06:10, 07:40 and 11:35p are all full, we'll need to sleep in ANC and take the only available flight which is at 09:35a, arrives 10:40a in Fairbanks.
That does not fit to my schedule at all as we had an hotel in FAI booked but must important, an ice fishing excursion on Monday. Excursion that was non refundable, non changeable, due to leave at 11:00am Monday morning.
As the excursion did cost USD 250.- per person, I was quite angry. But it won't change a thing as the agent could not do anything. I took my cell phone out and began to make some phone calls. My first call was for the hotel in Fairbanks to inform about our delayed arrival and the lady I have on the phone offers me to cancel the first night free of charge but I'll decline as I want to have the rooms ready as soon as we arrive in the morning. Then I book two rooms at the Courtyard Anchorage Airport, as I want to stay in a Marriott property (Platinum Elite Status to maintain ^^) and don't want AS to put us in a damp. I'll negotiate with them to pay for this hotel, as I found a good deal at USD 80.-/night/room.
Last I call the agency were I booked the ice fishing tour. A very friendly agent understood the problem and rebooked us free of charge onto Saturday, the only day I kept free in our agenda to accommodate any kind of things like this. That's just good news.
In the meantime the mechanics are still working:
And at 02:00pm:
Yes! It works. Time to make some additional checks and boarding is re-launched. Again the cabin:
An additional delay as people needed to settle in, and we pushed back at 03:00 with almost 03H delay. A bit of spotting on the way:
Take off straight after and the DigEplayers are handed out:
Bacardi coke as an aperitive and snack mix.
The funny thing #01 of the day: we were supposed to have a lunch aboard but with the delay, the catering took everything away and as the flight left at 03:00 the lunch was substituted for … a snack consisting of a hot sandwich. I don't understand why the lunch as not been left aboard. Fortunately the crew was really nice and sorry for the delay. They kept looking at us and fed us as much as they could with snack mix ^^
Here's the ham and cheese sandwich together with coleslaw. It was quite good but not enough given the length of the flight and the delay!!
Lovely sunset and landscape:
No more pictures from here on as it was night. We'll land with more than three hours delay. As we exited the aircraft I headed to a transfer desk and here we had the funny moment #02 as I learnt that they rebooked us onto the 11:35pm flight. It is 06:00pm that means more than 05:30 to wait. Yes, it's kind to do their best to have us in FAI as soon as possible, but now, I have to change all my plans again. I call the Courtyard to see if they can cancel my reservation free of charge as bookings cancelled after 06:00pm on day of arrival are normally due in full. The agent I had on the phone gladly cancelled my booking FOC by answering: For our Platinum Elite guests we can always make an exception.
Then a new call to FAI to inform we will still be there tonight and to order the shuttle bus to the hotel. I won't touch the ice fishing tour as I plan that we will be tired on the following morning.
Funny thing #03 the agent that rebooked us tells me that there is no lounges in ANC but while walking around I found one. So we headed to it.
The last funny thing was a hope not to happen: our bags not being in Fairbanks. With the misconnection, the change of flights, this is something I was more or less expecting. But was praying not to happen as all our winter equipment was inside, and the temperature in Fairbanks was -33° (around -27°F)
To conclude this report, here a bonus about Seattle, with a seaplane tour, views from Space Needle and Pike Market:
Alaska Airlines Board Room
Seattle - SEA
Anchorage - ANC
To summarize, the crew handled the situation very well, but the ground agents not. On time does not deserve more than the 0.5 mark. SEA is AS biggest hub and this should not happen. Replacement planes exist.
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