Review: Alaska Air First Class Kauai to Seattle

 


We arrived at the airport around 8:30pm for our 10:00pm flight.  We normally drop off the luggage at the airport before returning the rental car, so that we don’t have to lug all our bags on and off the shuttle.  As we pulled up to the Lihue airport, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Alaska had curbside check-in for First Class and elite members.  As we were parked 5 feet away from the check-in, I asked the gal if I had to wait until Randy came back with the car before I could check us in.  She said that she just needed to see his ID before he left with the car.  So, he quickly showed his passport, and then took off to return the car.

We were checking 2 bags, and as we were flying directly to the U.S. mainland, I had to run the checked bags through the agricultural inspection x-ray before the bags could be checked.  Luckily the inspection station was only about 30 feet away from the curbside check-in.

On previous flights, we had never had to put our bags through the agricultural inspection, as we have always been connecting to a flight directly to Canada – and this is not a requirement for any Canadian flights.

Once the bags were tagged that they passed inspection, I took them back to the check-in, where the gal already had our luggage tags and boarding passes ready.  Then, someone else came and took the checked bags away (I’m assuming that they were an Alaska Airlines employee, and not some random person that stole our bags).

Once Randy returned from the car rental agency, we went through security.  The TSA Pre-Check line was actually pretty empty, with maybe 5 people in front of us.  Randy did end up having his bag go through a secondary screening (swabbing for explosives), but even with that, it only took us about 5 minutes before we were through.

There is not a lot in the Lihue airport once you are past security.  There is a Starbucks, a couple of bars, a couple of shops and cafeteria-style restaurant.  The only airline lounge is for Hawaiian.  So, we wandered around the airport for a bit until it was time to head to gate 9 for boarding.  For this gate, you had to put your carry-on bags through an x-ray for agricultural inspection before you can get into the gate area.

Alaska 816
Seattle (SEA) – Lihue (LIH)
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Depart: 10:00pm
Arrive: 5:51am
Duration: 5hr51
Aircraft: 737-800
Seats: 3D & 3F (First Class)

 

Shortly after we got there, they started boarding wheelchair passengers, then families with small children. We were the next to board and found one of the families sitting next to us, and another sitting behind us.  We were a little nervous about that, as one of the babies was fussing while we were still on the ground.  But, once in the air, the kids must have fallen asleep as I didn’t hear a peep for the rest of the flight.

Bottled water and a blanket were waiting at our seats when we boarded.   The seats and plane configuration were the exact same as our flight out to Lihue from Seattle.  On the flight out, there were no blankets as it was an afternoon flight.

The blanket was a nice soft fleece that was perfectly adequate for the flight.  For this flight, there was no offer of a pre-departure drink.  Prior to take-off, the flight attendant did come around to take drink orders for once we were in the air.  They also asked if we were interested in the cheese plate they had.  Apparently that was the only meal they were offering, since this was an overnight flight.

Everyone was boarded quite quickly.  The plane pushed back about 5 minutes early, and we had a smooth take-off.  About 14 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendant came around with hot towels.

Immediately after that, they came around with the entertainment tablets. There was a choice of movies, TV shows and games loaded onto the tablet.  It looked like there were some new movies added since our flight out 2 weeks earlier.  There was also the ability to stream entertainment onto your own device.

About 20 minutes later, the drinks we had ordered were served.

Then about 10 minutes later, they delivered the cheese plate.

During the drink and food service, they kept the cabin lights turned off, and didn’t turn them back on until final descent.  Which was nice for people trying to go to sleep right away.

I ended up watching Despicable Me 3, and three episodes of The Good Place.  I started watching the new Will & Grace, but didn’t even make it through the first episode before I decided to try to get some sleep.  I managed to fall asleep for about an hour. The chairs don’t recline very much, so not the most comfortable sleep.  The head rests do bend forward a bit, so at least there is something to lean your head on (as there is no pillow).

While I was sleeping, apparently they came around with ramekins of mixed nuts, but that was the only additional food they served.  I woke up about 45 minutes before landing.  About 15 minutes later, they came around to collect the entertainment tablets.

We were originally scheduled to arrive at 5:51am, but must have had some good tail winds, as we landed in Seattle an hour early – at 4:51am. As we were so early, we had to wait a few minutes for our gate.  We pulled into gate C9 at 5:10am.

Arriving this early was probably nice for people whose final destination was Seattle, but as we were connecting, this just gave us extra time that we had to sit in the airport for our 9:40am flight to Edmonton.  But at least we were able to use the Alaska Air lounge while we were waiting.

Overall, I found Alaska Airlines to be a good option for getting to the Hawaiian Islands.  The first class seats have lots of legroom, and are comfortable for sitting (but less so for sleeping). I liked that on the outbound flight they tried to get the passengers in the mood with sparkling wine and POG and mai tais.  Because the return flight was an overnight flight, the service was much more limited than the flight out.  So, a person should keep that in mind, and maybe bring snacks if they think they will be hungry on the flight.

It would’ve been even better if the original schedule we booked hadn’t changed, and we didn’t have an overnight flight.  But, I would definitely consider Alaska Airlines next time I go to Kauai.

Review: Alaska Air First Class Seattle to Kauai

 


After leaving the lounge, we caught the train to the N Gates for a flight departing from Gate N6. Arrived at the gate about 15 minutes before boarding.  When our flights were switched because of the new schedule, we were assigned seats in different rows (2D & 3A).  I wasn’t able to change the seats online or by calling in, as the cabin was full.  So, being able to sit next to each other for the flight would be dependent on whether another passenger would be willing to switch seats.

While waiting in line to board the plane, we started chatting with an older gentleman in line behind us.  Once on the plane, we found out that he was actually sitting next to me.  We asked if he would be willing to switch seats with Randy so we could sit together and he agreed.

Alaska 839
Seattle (SEA) – Lihue (LIH)
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Depart: 4:31pm
Arrive: 9:00pm
Duration: 6hr29
Aircraft: 737-800
Seats: 3A & 3C (First Class)

 

Alaska has 2 different versions of their 737-800.  One version has 4 rows of business class (with a 36 inch pitch), and one version has 3 rows of business class (with a 41 inch pitch).  Luckily we were on the version with the 3 rows/41 inch pitch.

The seats were your typical domestic first class seats, but with the 41 inch pitch, there was lots of leg room.

There was a tray that folded out from the left armrest.

There was another little drink tray that slid out from the armrest.  Waiting at our seat was also two bottles of water.  On the side of the center armrest was a button for reclining the seat.

On the front side of the middle armrest was a power outlet and a USB slot.

There is no in-seat entertainment, but they do have free streaming entertainment (using your own tablet or phone) as well as free chat and texting.  They also have pre-loaded Windows tablets for rent in economy, or for free in first class.

During boarding, there was an announcement that Alaska Air no longer carries pillows and blankets on this flight, and they suggested that a person might want to keep a sweater or jacket available in case the plane was cold.  I ended up wearing my light jacket the entire flight, and I was perfectly comfortable.

One thing that I found interesting was that before takeoff, the pilot came out to chat with the passengers about some expected turbulence and the route that they were planning to take  (over Anchorage and then back down to the islands). He figured that if we ended up with the same winds as he encountered last week, we would end up arriving into Kauai early.  He stopped to chat with us and we mentioned the flower design we saw on the plane.  He told us that there had been a design contest, and a 16-year-old won .  Unfortunately, from the gate and from on the plane, we could only see the design on the wingtips.  But they did have a little article about it on a wall near the entrance of the plane.

After most of the passengers had boarded, the flight attendant came around with a drink of sparkling wine and POG (passion orange guava juice).  it was fine, but a little sweet.  I wouldn’t want to drink a lot of them. But I appreciate the effort of getting people into the Hawaiian mood.

The flight pushed back from the gate on time, and we were soon in the air.

About 20 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants came around with entertainment tablets. There was a pretty good selection of movies and TV shows on the tablet.

Immediately after getting our entertainment tablets, they came by with a warm towel.

The menus were then handed out, and they came by to take orders shortly after. We were in the last row of first class, so by the time they got to us, they only had 1 of each meal left. I ordered the pasta and Randy went with the chicken.

They also took our drink orders at the same time.  I went with a vodka and cranberry – which was served with warm nuts.

Randy went with the Kona Brewing longboard beer.

During the meal service, I noticed a number of economy passengers coming forward to use the bathroom in the first class cabin.  On other flights, I have seen the flight attendants be very strict with not allowing the economy passengers use the first class bathroom.  But when I asked the flight attendant about this, she said that they will allow passengers to come forward – as the meal service usually lasts 2 hours, and it would be unreasonable to have people wait that long if there is a cart blocking access to the rear bathroom.

About 1 hour and 15 minutes into flight we were served salad course – which came on a tray.  A whole wheat bun was also served with the salad.  The salad was actually pretty tasty, and I appreciate that the dish wasn’t just your usual round bowl.

The main course came about 20 minutes later.  My pasta was fine – but nothing overly exciting.

Randy’s chicken dish was a little tasteless, but not actively bad.

The dessert was served about 20 minutes after finishing the main course.  It was the best part of the meal.  In fact, I think it might have been the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane.  The chocolate brownie was delicious with a melted center.  The picture doesn’t do it any justice – it was better than it looks.

After the meal service was completed, there were still a couple of hours left in the flight.  During the meal service I watched the Wonder Woman movie.  After the meal, I watched Girls Trip.

The one issue I found with the entertainment tablet is that there isn’t a lot of room to have both the tablet and the meal tray on the table at the same time.  I ended up accidentally knocking the tablet off the table during one point of my meal.

About an hour and 45 minutes before arrival, it was announced that Alaska Air provides free mai tais to everyone on the plane to get them in the aloha spirit.  If you didn’t want a mai tai, they also offered guava juice.  At this point, I didn’t really need any more alcohol, but I ordered one to see what it was like.  When the drink arrived, it was rather clear – and didn’t look like any mai tai I’ve had before.  After tasting it, it seemed like it was mostly just alcohol.  I’m not sure if there was an juice in there at all.  I think this is a nice gesture of Alaska Air.  Unfortunately I just wasn’t in the mood to have any more alcohol – so I just had a few sips of the drink and at the cherry and pineapple.

A while later, the flight attendant also came by with a snack basket of chips and chocolate bars.

As the captain had predicted, we ended up arriving into Lihue half an hour early.

Overall, it was a very comfortable flight.  The seats had lots of room, and the meals served were decent (with an excellent dessert).  And it is a nice touch for them to offer the pre-departure sparkling wine/POG drink and the pre-arrival mai tai.  It’s definitely a solid option for flying from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii.

Review: Alaska Air Seattle Concourse C Lounge

 


Just as we entered the terminal through gate C16, the new Alaska Air lounge was straight ahead of us, just past the seats near the gate.  This was a new lounge for Alaska Air in Concourse C, and it had just opened in June 2017.  There was an option of taking an elevator or some stairs up one level to the lounge.

We presented our boarding passes, and the agent mentioned that there were a number of people that just left, so hopefully we would find a seat.  We hoped so, too.

The lounge is in a long ‘L’ shape, with a bar at the end.

Separating the bar from the long narrow seating area was water glass feature.

The lounge had a food area with some minimal selection of food.

For drinks, there was a fancy Starbucks expresso machine.

Along with some coffee.

There were a variety of syrups to go in your coffee beverages, as well as some packets of Tazo tea.

There was also a soft drink dispenser serving Coke products.

Now I don’t know if it was the time of day we were there (mid afternoon), but there was not a big selection of food available.  The only hot item available was some tomato basil soup.

There was also a salad bar.

And some dry snacks.

I did notice that they had a pancake machine – that apparently is operational during breakfast.

Since the food wasn’t overly appealing, we went to the bar area where we found some seats overlooking the tarmac.

There were a few beers on tap, and we both went with an amber ale, that was quite good.

The lounge was pretty busy, but there were some empty seats here and there.  We weren’t able to stay very long, as our flight to Lihue was leaving from the N Concourse, which required us to take the train that travels between the different concourses.  So, we probably only spent about 30 minutes in the lounge before we needed to head off to our next flight.

Overall, the lounge was decent, with lots of different seating areas.  The food was a little disappointing, but at least they had some good beer on tap.