One of my closest friends moved up to Portland for grad school and after being fully vaccinated for a few months, my other friend and I thought we should go visit him before his school started. Looking up airfare, a Main Cabin seat on Alaska from LAX was $238 roundtrip and first class was $308 roundtrip. Given I was traveling with 1 friend only; first class was a no brainer for $35 each way in my opinion with 2-2 seating versus 3-3 in the main cabin, plus lounge access, food and a checked bag. This was my first flight in almost two years, as before the pandemic my work schedule didn’t allow me to travel very far. So, this was a very exciting trip!
Los Angeles (LAX) to Portland (PDX)
Alaska Flight 371
Date of Flight: June 2021
Seat: 2D- First Class- Aisle
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Portland (PDX) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Alaska Flight 1298
Date of Flight: June 2021
Seat: 2F- First Class- Window
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Arriving At The Airport:
Our flight out of LAX left at 3:20pm on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve been hearing reports of the airport being quite crowded, but thankfully when we arrived LAX wasn’t too bad. TSA also only took 5 minutes to get across which was nice. There aren’t any express lanes at LAX for Alaska First Class passengers, so thankfully the normal TSA lines weren’t too long. It felt nice after almost two years to have my first TSA interaction in a while and unsurprisingly received a sassy encounter as many of us are used to. It’s good to be back!
At Portland on the way home at 5pm on a Tuesday, the TSA line was very short as well. Here, there is an express lane for Alaska First Class passengers, and it saved maybe a minute or two since the airport was empty, but may come in handy when travelling on high traffic days.
On a paid Alaska first class ticket (no upgrades); you are entitled to lounge access.
I’ve visited the Alaska Lounge at LAX numerous times in the past but never after the 2018 renovation, so I was excited to check it out. In my opinion, the Alaska Lounge at LAX is a nice place to stop by for a quick bite especially when the alternative is waiting in the crowded LAX terminal. While the food selection can be improved, it’s still a great clean lounge to grab a drink, relax and use the restroom. If you want to see my full lounge review, click here.
The Alaska Lounge at Portland is a bit smaller than LAX, but seemed to be less crowded and Priority Pass members cannot access this lounge. The food selection is a bit better than LAX as they have some sandwich wraps and prepackaged potato chips. While not as renovated at the LAX lounge, the Portland lounge is still a nice place to relax. If you want to see my full lounge review for the Alaska Lounge at PDX, you can check it out here.
For our flight to Portland, boarding was to commence at 2:40pm and we left the lounge at 3:00pm thinking we would just board somewhere in the middle. The flight was a bit delayed so we actually arrived to the gate right when the First Class boarding group began boarding. So, we just boarded along with them. The flight was completely full- all seats were taken in both the first and main cabin.
On our flight back to Los Angeles, we ended up just arriving to the gate at the scheduled boarding time and boarding commenced shortly after. The flight itself was around 90% full and the first class cabin was completely full.
The floor in the cabin was very clean but unfortunately my friend had a decent amount of cracker crumbs on the edges of her seat on the flight to Portland. While the seats look a bit aged, they were quite plush and comfortable. The First Class Cabin on the Alaska 737-900 consists of 4 rows of 2-2 seating, with only a total of 16 seats. Both flights were operated by the same aircraft type.
On both flights, we chose seats in row 2, and I’ve flown on Alaska First on the E175 before but these seats on the 737 seemed roomier and had pretty good legroom. It is stated that Alaska provides 41″of pitch on the 737 which they advertise as the most legroom in any U.S. domestic airline, and on the E175 it has less with 37″ of pitch.
Two boxed waters and sanitizing wipes were provided at the seats which were nice. I love the boxed waters as they are better for the environment and they just look…well, cool. The seats have a nice little table in between the two and an extra mini tray that pulls out right in the middle. Additionally both seats have tray tables that pull out from the armrests that can be full sized or half sized for when you are just drinking/having a snack.
On both flights the captain quoted a 1 hour and 55 minute flight time, and both flights ended up arriving right on time. I flew the same weekend that many of the American and Southwest flights got cancelled, so I’m happy Alaska had their scheduling/staffing in order. I also happened to book my flights on the weekend that Portland hit their 116 degree record heat wave…
I also saw some nice planes on this trip:
WiFi was supplied by Gogo and it worked on the ground which was nice. Pricing was as follows: $6.50 for an hour, or $10 for the whole flight. Also, all passengers could use iMessage and Facebook Messenger for free. My friend had T-Mobile so she was able to get a free 1 hour pass, but she said the WiFi was a bit spotty on both flights. As there is no seatback IFE on Alaska, you can stream movies and TV shows to your device. There are also charging ports in between the first class seats.
Meal service started once we reached cruising altitude. On the outbound flight, Paulina was very friendly and was in charge of the first class cabin. I preordered on the app before the flight and I could choose between the Mojo Chicken sandwich, Afternoon Protein Platter and Fruit and Cheese Plate. I opted for the sandwich and it was a chicken sandwich with cilantro and cabbage served with apples and grapes on the side. Not a bad meal for a short flight.
A full beverage service was provided, and we got orange juice and Tito’s Vodka, as well a nice ginger ale to settle down.
Shortly after, a warm chocolate chip cookie was delivered. I’ve missed warm cookies on planes so much!!
On the flight back, the in-flight service was a bit abrupt, as the drinks, meal and warm cookie were all served at once. Nothing bad, but just different than the flight there.
Shortly after takeoff, the food service commenced. I had pre-ordered my meal before the flight and the options were between the Afternoon Protein Platter and Fruit and Cheese Plate like the first flight, but instead of the Chicken Mojo Sandwich, they had a Banh-Mi Sandwich. I chose the Banh-Mi and was very excited. I may have set my expectations a bit too high, as the chicken in the sandwich was very dry. I would say that the Chicken Mojo I had on my outbound flight was much juicier and easier to eat. On the Banh-Mi, there was a carrot/radish slaw on the side, I think if they added that directly to the sandwich it would help a lot, or perhaps adding more of the slaw as well.
Pretty much once the entire meal service was completed; we began our initial descents for landing. Having a meal service definitely makes the time fly by.
Overall, flying Alaska’s 737 First Class is a nice way to get from Los Angeles to Portland on a short hop. A nice meal service, roomy seats and extra space especially during these times is a nice luxury to have, when I only had to pay $35 more than the Main Cabin. Particularly if the upgrade fee is reasonable, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Alaska’s 737 First Class again.
Have you flown on Alaska Airlines in First recently? What were your thoughts? Comment below!