There are very few North American airlines I haven’t completed at least one flight with. Up until a few weeks ago, Alaska Airlines was one of these airlines. It wasn’t anything against Alaska Airlines personally. I mean, their onboard service is fair, the majority
of their fleet is very young, and the employees at Alaska Air are notoriously nice and energetic. I just didn’t have a reason nor did I have the motivation to spend a nice chunk of change to spend a few hours experiencing mundane service. That was the case up until one of the last Saturdays in April when I came across an amazing deal from Dallas to Portland. This trip shaped up to be one of those itineraries that just comes together in harmony, allowing for a flawless journey, in this case, up to the Pacific Northwest. I booked a First Class seat on an Alaska Airlines’ E175 on Saturday morning, a reserved a room at the Aloft near DFW for Friday night, and I decided to waste some more money on an Amtrak ride from Portland to Seattle in a Sleeper Car. With everything set perfectly in its place, I embarked on what seemed to be a weeklong trek to Portland, Oregon.
Airline/Flight#: Alaska Airlines AS/OO3389
Aircraft: Embraer-175 (E75)
Departure/Arrival City: Dallas, TX (DFW)/Portland, OR (PDX)
Departure/Arrival Time: 7:20am/9:28am (4.23.16) [On-Time/Early]
Seat: 1A (Window+Aisle)
Cabin of Service: First Class
Meal(s): Breakfast, Snack Service
On the Ground
I had been up since 3:30 am (not a good start to the day) and after an enthusiastic early morning conversation with my Uber driver, by the time I got to the terminal, I was wide-awake and ready to go.
The flight departed from the E concourse, the only concourse at DFW that I had yet to visit so I was a little unfamiliar with the terminal’s layout, though, since every terminal at DFW is identical, it didn’t take long to figure out where everything was. Knowing that DFW can be a zoo, especially in the morning hours, I arrived fairly early. It wasn’t until I stepped into the terminal that I realized I had overestimated how busy terminal E would be. I figured that out when I realized I was the only one at the Alaska Airlines’ ticketing counters.
I was surprised at how professional the ground staff was. Though I only had a carry-on and a duffle bag, an agent quickly left his podium to come to the kiosk to assist me with check-in. To be honest, I really hate when ticketing agents to this. I try to be as independent and mature as I possibly can when I fly and when ticketing agents make it a point to assist me one-on-one, I always feel a little embarrassed. Even though I hate when ticketing agents do this, I understand that it’s their job, and when someone is this eager to go out of their way to provide amazing customer service, I’m not going to say no when they offer to help.
Check-in took maybe two minutes total, and the Alaska Airlines’ team took care of everything. My first impression of Alaska Airlines’ was certainly positive. After check-in, it was on to security.
Because terminal E wasn’t very busy, the TSA consolidated all passenger traffic to a single checkpoint which created a line that stretched quite a ways down the ticketing corridor. Fortunately, I have TSAPre✔. Surprisingly, I was the only passenger with Pre✔ that morning. I’ve found the TSA team at DFW to be some of the most professional and friendly agents in the country. With that said, it took me roughly 45 seconds to pass through security.
Once I cleared security, I checked the Alaska Airlines app to see what gate my flight was going to depart from. Though it was an hour before departure, the app had yet to update the gate information. It turned out that it wasn’t just the app that didn’t have up to date departure gate information. The departure screens throughout the concourse listed “HG” as the departure gate for AS3899. Though I wasn’t completely sure what gate I’d be departing from, I made my way down to a gate with Alaska Airlines’ signage and began to take some pictures from the gate. Soon enough, the departure lounge was filling up with other passengers also heading to Portland. Eventually, I realized that it was five minutes till boarding and the gate I thought was going to serve as my departure gate lacked a gate agent. So, I made my way over to a gate adjacent to the one I had been sitting at for forty-five minutes. The gate on the opposite side of the Delta SkyClub E13 turned out to be the correct departure gate, though, no one knew that as the flight monitors and the app had yet to show any gate information. Eventually, the agents resolved everything and everyone made it on the flight without issue.
I requested pre-boarding so I could snap a few pictures of the recently delivered aircraft and the agents were nice enough to allow me to do so. So, an agent called down to the cabin crew and opened the door to the jetway for me.
Once onboard, I was welcomed by the purser with a gigantic smile. I honestly can’t recall the last time I’ve encountered such a warm, welcoming, and professional crew member like the purser of AS/OO3899. I began snapping a few photos, and she offered to put my backpack in the overhead so I could navigate the narrow aisle a little easier. After taking a few photos, I sat down in seat 1A.
The purser asked me about why I was headed to Portland, and I told her about my travel blogging. We continued our conversation, and she seemed legitimately interested in what I do. We then shared what our favorite airports were and where we’d flown recently. She then offered me a cup of orange juice as general boarding commenced.
The flight was already off to a great start even though the flight had yet to actually begin. As I waited for boarding to come to an end, I snapped a few pictures of my seat and the aircraft.
As previously mentioned, the aircraft was an Embraer 175, which had recently entered service for Alaska Airlines. Alaska’s E175 was one aircraft I had be very excited to try out. This is because Alaska Airlines treats the E175, a regional jet, like a mainline aircraft. I also truly enjoy the Embraer 175 with its gigantic windows, bright interior, and spacious seats. Unfortunately, the cabin was pretty standard and looked like any other regional jet. Alaska Airlines even left out their unique Native Alaskan patterned carpet bulkheads from their E175 fleet. Dullness aside, the cabin was clean, new, bright, and comfortable.
Overall, in-flight service was excellent, especially for a flight operated by a regional jet. I pretty much knew what to expect after days of researching previous Alaska Airlines’ service experiences. I even contacted Alaska Airlines via Twitter to see if the flight would feature their Digital E-Players. Unfortunately, the flight would not feature the entertainment players, so I had to stock up on some new episodes of Portlandia and Daniel Tosh’s new stand-up special on my phone.
Though the flight lacked in-flight entertainment, the AC units sufficed as I had downloaded roughly three hours of my own content. In addition to power outlets, there were a few meal services with a very attentive crew.
The first meal service was a pastry service. The purser came around to take drink orders and offer hot towels. I ordered a cup of Starbuck’s Pike Place Roast. After the nearly four-hour flight, I had polished off five cups of the roast. After the purser picked up hot towels, she then came around to offer a hot cherry pastry which was quite tasty.
Maybe a half hour later, the flight attendants began the main breakfast service. The breakfast service consisted of either cereal and fresh fruit or a breakfast burrito with egg and sausage with fresh fruit. I decided to go with the burrito mainly because I was starving having not had anything in over twelve hours.
I was surprised at how well the burrito was cooked and how well it tasted. Everything seemed quite fresh. Even though it was the most luxurious or hearty first class meal I’ve had, it was full of flavor and satisfied my appetite.
Following breakfast, I connected to the Gogo Wi-Fi service offered onboard and got some work done. I then finished up my last episode of Portlandia and soon enough it was time to land. A few minutes before initial descent, there was a snack service that consisted of a snack basket; all snacks were Non-GMO and vegetarian.
I legitimately don’t have any complaints. The crew was fantastic, the food was pretty good, and the E175 is a spectacular aircraft. A few added bonuses were how cheap the ticket was and the being able to earn a few thousand AAdvantage miles. Alaska Airlines and American are partners, so American’s premium cabin bonus does apply if you fly on Alaska Airlines.
Though I don’t see myself flying Alaska Airlines too much in the future, my first experience flying with Alaska was great. They got me to Portland ahead of schedule, as I said, the crew was great, service was fantastic, and I earned some miles.
With all that said, if you’re considering flying Alaska Airlines and you notice that the flight is operated by Skywest on an E175, don’t let that scare you. Alaska Airlines does a great job matching their regional jet service with their mainline service.