Originally written way back in 2006, I was pretty pleased to upgrade to First Class on the Alaska Airlines MD-83 for the bargain price of US$50. This is the only time I flew with Alaska and I have a very favourable impression of the airline as a result.

AS692 – Vancouver to Los Angeles (YVR-LAX)
14 February 2006
McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Seat: First 1A – paid upgrade

I arrived at Vancouver airport well in time for AS632 as I had to check out of my hotel at midday. Once at the counters, I asked the check-in lady if she could check my bags through to Sydney with Qantas. She said it was no problem and even had Qantas Priority Baggage tags for me, which was great!

Upgrading My Ticket

Happily, when I asked about paying for an upgrade with Alaska, she said that was fine, swiped my credit card for the US$50 and we were all set. At this point she asked if I wanted to get to Los Angeles earlier as there was space on the flight leaving beforehand – AS692 – and I had no issues with that.

Breezed through US immigration pre-clearance (something all countries should have!), and soon arrived in the lounge. I asked the lady at the gate if there was a meal service and was told no! Quite frankly, I was pretty shocked by that, because even American Airlines has meal service in First for flights of this duration (two and a half hours).

On Board The Alaska Airlines MD-83

I took myself off to a bagel place and had something to eat, and then immediately boarding was called and to seat 1A I went. The seats are standard domestic First Class seats, in line with those on American Airlines. In front of me was a wonderful beige tapestry with some inlaid patterns in dark blue. Quite nice!

We departed on time and once in the air we were served nuts (cold), and champagne after champagne after champagne. It seems that they really give you a lot of booze to make up for the fact that they don’t serve meals. As such, I had a very enjoyable flight, despite the lack of IFE.

What made it all the more special were the flight attendants. We had a little chat for a while in the front galley as I was entering the toilet, and they were all so chatty, jokey and fun that it was amazing. To have that plus the utter professionalism they displayed was awesome. I commented on it and they said that their airline hires only good people, and I could believe it. We arrived on time, and I deplaned very quickly.

Overall Thoughts

I will certainly fly Alaska Airlines again in the future. Regardless of the lack of a meal (which really should be rectified, like seriously), the quality of the staff (both check-in and on board), seat comfort and the fact that you can upgrade for US$50 really makes it all worthwhile.

So that was the state of play in 2006. Since then, the Alaska Airlines MD-80 fleet has been retired. They purchased Virgin America and from all reports still have a quality operation. I still consider them for travel when I am in the states, but as yet haven’t been on board again.

Have you flown with Alaska Airlines before? What do you think of them? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Airwim via Wikimedia Commons.
Tapestry image by SFO 777 on FlyerTalk.
Cabin image by LAX2CGKx5 on Twitter.