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.
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.