Trip Report: Alaska to the Northwest

I just realized that I never put together a trip report for my trip to the Pacific Northwest last week. I’m probably going to be doing fewer of these in the future or at least de-emphasizing them, but I haven’t decided how I’m going to treat that yet. Do you guys like these? Let me know in the comments.

I bought this ticket about 2 months in advance for about $310 (with a discount coupon I found online). The plan was the fly up to Seattle, take the Boeing tour at Everett, and then go down to Portland where I’d visit family and then fly home.


September 12, 2008
Alaska #547 Lv Long Beach (LGB) 7a Arr Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) 957a
LGB: Gate 22, Runway 30, Dept OT
SEA: Gate N8, Runway 34C, Arr ~20m Early
Aircraft: N796AS, Boeing 737-490, Eskimo, ~75% Full
Seat: 2F
Flight Time: 2h22m

I didn’t realize that Alaska gives its elite members upgrades that they can hand out to friends. I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was flying Alaska and he offered them up. Very cool. So I was Alaska Above Marine Layerconfirmed in First long before the flight.

Since I was flying out of Long Beach, it was the usual routine of leaving home one hour before departure. Security took 15 minutes to clear, and once I got to the gate, I just walked right onboard.

There was a mini bottle of water at my seat, and the flight attendant came by and told us that breakfast would be a danish and, I think, some yogurt. It wasn’t much, but who was I to complain?

We took off into the deep marine layer and soon enough we were up in the morning sun on our way to Seattle. Alaska Dirty SeatsThe food was fine, and I decided to have a mimosa to start the vacation right. Looking around, I could see these seats were very well worn, to say the least. They could probably use an upgrade themselves.

It was a nice smooth flight up north and we had great views of Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier on our way in.

They parked us at the remote gates which were pretty sparsely populated when I arrived. I took the train back to the terminal, and then I was on my way. Unfortunately, the Boeing strike meant that there was a completely lame bus ride in place of the actual tour (though I did get to see the first V Australia 777 on the flight line). That was the only real disappointment of the trip.


September 14, 2008
Alaska #588 Lv Portland (PDX) 430p Arr Orange County (SNA) 652p
PDX: Gate C1, Runway 28L, Dept ~15m Late
SNA: Gate 10, Runway 19R, Arr ~5m Late
Aircraft: N609AS, Boeing 737-790, Eskimo, ~95% Full
Seat: 2F
Flight Time: 1h54m

After a great weekend in Portland with family, I left them and hopped on the MAX train to the airport. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find an afternoon flight time back home. Strangely, there are no flights to LAX leaving between 2 and 7 and you can’t fly nonstop to Long Beach. So, I took the 430p flight down to Orange County.

As I mentioned before, the Portland airport is a great one. I wandered around awhile and then came to the close-in gate for boarding. Once we were all boarded up, I got a little nervous when I saw the door staying open and the flight attendants milling around. Sure enough, the captain came on and said we’d be delayed.

Apparently the first officer had car problems and had to take the bus. He was on his way, and he hoped it wouldn’t make us more than 15 minutes late. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. But sure Alaska Onboard Lasagnaenough, he walked in, got a small of a round of applause, and then we were soon on our way.

Right after departure, the very friendly flight attendant came by and took drink orders. I had the first of three scotches (might as well), and settled back for the afternoon ride home. I was told by the gate agent that we only had a snack in First, but sure enough we had a meal. It had a decent salad with lasagna that was slightly hard around the edges (but still not bad). There was also a very soggy breadstick. I started talking to the guy next to me, and we discussed how it was probably about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Alaska Prayer CardOh yeah, and I can’t forget that to this day, Alaska continues to include a prayer card on every tray table that it provides. I find this to be very strange, but I suppose they’re welcome to do whatever they and their shareholders want.

The rest of the flight was nice and smooth with excellent service from up front. We landed just a little bit late, and I was on my way home in no time.

38 Responses to Trip Report: Alaska to the Northwest

  1. Marty Near DFW says:

    Hey, Brett! I’ve been reading Cranky Flier for a while now and I always enjoy your writing and your insights. Personally, I enjoy your trip reports and I hope you decide to keep writing them. I’m fascinated with both aircraft and the airlines and it’s nice to read about airlines I won’t fly for whatever reason or airlines I’m not able to fly because they don’t offer service from Dallas airports. Thank you, Brett! =M=

  2. Howard says:

    I LOVE these trip reports. Every time you post one its a little present in my RSS inbox. You give a great perspective, and the pictures really help me feel like I’m there. Heck, I don’t get much time up in F or J so hearing your experiences are fantastic.

    Please please please don’t stop posting them.

  3. Skinny says:

    I’m with Marty. I’m a newer reader and I am a fan of the trip reports. Keep ‘em coming.

  4. Dan Webb says:

    I love the trip reports!

    Never saw the prayer card before…interesting.

  5. Elliot says:

    I LOVE the trip reports, please do keep doing them. Please keep them up. Thanks.

  6. Zach says:

    It goes without saying that your blog offers fantastic insights into the industry, but the trip reports are fantastic. Add my vote to the “keep ‘em” list!

    -Z

  7. Zach says:

    It goes without saying that your blog offers fantastic insights into the industry, but the trip reports are wonderful. Add my vote to the “keep ‘em” list!

    -Z

  8. Artie says:

    Count me among the many who want the trip reports continued and NOT de-emphasized. For those of us who can’t fly as much as we would like, your trip reports are an extremely fun way to feel like we are in the airplane and enjoying the service! PLEASE continue them.

    And PS: I will probably be flying to Seattle first week of October to visit some friends (and because I’ve never been to Seattle). I have narrowed it down to flying either Virgin America or Alaska – any suggestions?

  9. Juhan says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and the trip reports are indeend enjoyable. I would be sad to see them go.

  10. A says:

    Keep up the trip reports.

  11. Oliver says:

    Hey Cranky!
    The trip reports are a lovely read and welcome distraction to the stresses in life. I find it funny that many of your trips have been great experiences, contradictory to the title of your blog, “the CrankyFlier”! Please do keep these reports coming. I enjoy seeing trip reports that people take from many different airlines. It helps with researching which airline has good service!
    By the way, it’s pretty cool that you record all the stats to your flight, even the airplane number!
    Thanks!

  12. Will says:

    As a longtime reader, I echo what everyone else is saying and I hope you keep the trip reports. I fly a decent amount but I always never seem to be able to get all the details/photos down for a report so it is nice to live vicariously through you.

  13. CF says:

    well it seems clear that more than a few of you like the trip reports, so I’ll definitely keep doing them. Thanks for the feedback, and please keep it coming. The more you tell me, the better I can make the blog.

    Artie – If you’re flying coach, it’ll probably be a nicer onboard experience on Virgin America with the TV in the seatback. But if you’re addicted to miles and you want a more frequent flight schedule, Alaska is the way to go.

    Personally, I chose Alaska this time because they fly out of Long Beach and that’s always the preferred option. JetBlue flies it as well, but I seem to remember the price being more than $100 higher and I couldn’t come back on JetBlue from Portland anyway (that changes next month). I didn’t know I’d have a shot at First Class at all, so that didn’t enter into the decision.

  14. John says:

    I have been reading your blog for sometime now. Your trip reports are alwys a treat. I would like to see more of them, not less. Thanks.

  15. Kim says:

    I love the trip reports. I get to travel vicariously through you since my budget doesn’t seem to allow the ten billion dollar (ok, really like $700) it takes to get from Fairbanks, Alaska to the real world.

  16. Wes says:

    Another vote to keep the trip reports! Like Marty near DFW, I enjoy getting to see/learn a little about airlines that I most likely will not get to fly anytime soon.

    Brett, maybe you can find a cheap Allegiant fare out of LAS should you need to head East, I would really like to get an impression of what they are like.

  17. Roger in LB says:

    I like your trip reports as well. I’m not one much for flying (no real reason to and I don’t like the hassle), so it’s nice to hear about the experience from somebody else.

  18. Embo says:

    I, too love the trip reports. Second only to the postings of Cranky Jackass Awards.

  19. Artie says:

    Thanks for the advice Cranky! I’ll let you know what I choose and how it was after I book. (And yes, when you are rich in the NEGATIVE due to med school debt, you always choose Coach :)

    And as a side note, I gotta admit the meal they served you looks AMAZING – I have been hungry all morning for lasagna after seeing the picture you took. Of course, substance is more important than presentation…but man, the presentation is really stellar in my opinion!

  20. TR says:

    I discovered your blog about a minth ago and it is regular reading. I now try to catch up on the weekends. I enjoy the trip reports if you have the time and energy. I worked in airline finance at one time.

  21. Al B says:

    Two thumbs up for the trip reports. Please keep them coming.

  22. james says:

    I never knew about the prayer cards before. I find it bizarre and a completely oddball thing to do for a large company that caters to all types of people from all over North America.

    I’m “to each his own” and unless they replaced them with Jack Chick tracts it wouldn’t stop me from flying with them – but the perplexion created would seem to outweigh the benefit.

    oh – and even though Alaska is based in Seattle I’m stumped to thing of a decent Sarah Palin joke in relation to the tracks.

  23. james says:

    tracts that is.

    And another “yes” vote on trip reports. I enjoy them, and I’ll bet many lurkers find them too when searching the ‘net to compare airlines.

  24. C$ says:

    I HATE the trip reports. Can’t believe I’m the only one. I travel too much as it is, and I take no pleasure in re-living other people’s micro travel experiences. It’s the same reason I dislike watching “The Amazing Race.”

  25. Robert says:

    Trip Reports – Do Em!

    :-)

  26. eponymous coward says:

    Having flown both Virgin America and Alaska from the Bay Area recently, I concur with Cranky- the inflight experience in coach OR first is nicer on Virgin, the mileage is more useful on Alaska and their frequencies are better, plus you can fly out of better airports (I prefer Long Beach to LAX myself).

    Right now Virgin’s prices are tending to be better (a bit), but not always, and Alaska often matches.

    Also, yes, the MVPG coupons you can give to friends ARE quite nice, and they work on ANY fare, not just the instant free upgrade ones (basically, they are “get out of coach free” cards, as long as there is a U seat available- the flights where this isn’t true are the transcontinental ones like SEA-EWR or SEA-MIA, and that’s because Alaska almost always sells F out on those flights).

  27. Eric says:

    Wow! The masses are hungry for trip reports. My insight as to why? I have several frequent flyer blogs, and they all regurgitate the same news on one after another. Trip reports are wholly original, are entertaining, and provide a moment of escape for the reader.

    Keep them up.

  28. Eric says:

    Oopss…let me clarify my previous post (edit it if you can).

    I *subscribe* to several frequent flyer blog *feeds* (I don’t have several)

  29. CF – I too like the trip reports. Now to get to Portland did you drive or take Amtrak Cascades?

  30. Greg says:

    Brett – Your trip reports are a nice read. I enjoy them and hope you keep doing them!

  31. BAP says:

    I enjoy the trip reports, keep em coming if you can – I realize they take quite a bit of time to do but I really enjoy them!

  32. Marks says:

    Hi,

    Your information about the Prayer Card reminded me of the couple of trips I did on Royal Brunei from DRW to FRA a few years ago.

    After the safety demonstrations, they always had a muslim prayer for a safe flight come over the PA system.

    I must admit, my thoughts exactly paralleled yours in this post. :)

  33. A says:

    To expand a little on what C$ said, I probably would “hate” the trip reports if if I was flying the same airlines & routes your were. But since you are not it’s interesting to see what other flights are like outside the east of the rockies American, Continental & NW flights I’m on every month.

  34. Brian Lusk says:

    CF,
    Trip Reports? a big Yeah to that. One reason I like your blog is its variety, which only an independent blogger can provide. One day, it’s all about your obsession with flying Italians, the next is a cogent analysis of some economic issue, then maybe some “plane porn, and then your personal observations like the trip reports.

    You have a unique product, and as long as you post daily, keep the variety.
    Brian

  35. CF says:

    Well it seems pretty clear that I should keep the trip reports. Thanks for all the feedback.

    Nicholas – My family drove up from Portland for the day, so we just drove back together.

  36. Eric W says:

    I agree…the trip reports are excellent! And CF, you missed out on the Boeing factory tour–it’s awesome. We were there this summer just before the strike, and it was an airplane geek’s dream. I just wish they would let you take cameras inside the assembly building ;)

  37. Vincent V says:

    Keep up the trip reports please! I really love your writing style, it’s a great way to connect with air travel – especially since I’m (budget wise) home bound these days. Couldn’t believe Alaska would only serve a danish and yogurt on a 2 plus hour flight in First. In Europe you get a complete meal – why don’t we complain more? Thanks for exposing the cheapskates, I’ll be flying Virgin America whenever I can from now on! Thanks for doing a great job with the blog, looking forward to reading about your next trip.

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