Introduction: Flying Alaska Air to Kauai

Hawaii is one of our frequent holiday destinations, and we have been there a number of times over the past 25 years.  Our favourite island is Kauai.  We normally would fly Air Canada to Hawaii, but as they do not offer service to Kauai, we usually fly into Honolulu or Maui and catch an inter-island flight from there.

Some years Air Canada’s schedule to Hawaii from Western Canada allows a person to arrive into Honololu early enough to catch a connecting flight to another island.  However, for the past couple of years, their flights arrive later at night (e.g. 10:00pm), which means that a person is forced to overnight.  On some more recent trips, we’ve flown into Maui, stayed a couple of days and then continued onto Kauai.  Also, over the past couple of years, Air Canada has been transitioning their mainline flights over to the Air Canada Rouge flights.  Rouge is Air Canada’s low cost carrier.  On our last trip to Hawaii, we flew with Rouge in their ‘Premium Rouge’ class.  We were not impressed.

So, for this trip, we looked at what other options were available for getting to Kauai.  Alaska Airlines has direct flights to Kauai from Seattle.  Some years, the connecting flights from Edmonton work out really well, and other times the schedules don’t line up, and a person has to overnight in Seattle.  When we looked into flights for this year’s trip, we were pleasantly surprised at the flight times.  We could catch a 6:00am flight from Edmonton to Seattle, and then catch a late morning flight out of Seattle that got us into Kauai around 3:00pm.  And our return flight left Kauai at 12:30pm, and got us back into Edmonton just after midnight.  Perfect timings in that we would arrive just in time to check into our accommodations, and then depart close to a normal hotel check-out time.  And this way we would only have 2 flights, instead of the usual 3 with Air Canada.

The Alaska Air First Class seats are your typical domestic first/business class seat and pretty similar with what we had with Premium Rouge.  So, we went ahead and booked it.  As we don’t have very many points with the Alaska Mileage Plan program, we just bought our tickets.  The cost for first class was $1,921CDN per person.  With Air Canada Rouge, the price for Premium Rouge is only a couple of dollars less ($1903CDN), and that only gets you as far as Honolulu (the inter-island flight to Kauai would be an extra cost).  Therefore, the prices are fairly comparable.  Now to see how comparable the service is.

HOWEVER, about 2 months prior to our trip, I just happened to notice that our return flight had been changed.  I hadn’t received any notification from Alaska Airlines – I just happened to go in and look at our reservation.  I phoned Alaska Airlines and found out that they had changed the return flight to be later in the afternoon, which meant that we would miss the last connecting flight to Edmonton.  But they had added a second flight leaving at 10:00pm, and we had been switched to that flight.  We would now be taking an overnight flight to Seattle, and then catching a morning flight from Seattle to Edmonton.  Not ideal – as this means a person has to kill time from checking out of their accommodations until the evening flight, and we were really trying to avoid an overnight flight (as a person never gets any decent sleep, and is exhausted by the time you get home).  One of the main reasons that we booked with Alaska was because their flights left earlier in the day.  Oh well.

Then about 3 weeks after that, I did actually receive another notification from Alaska Airlines.  This time it was a schedule change to our outbound flights.  It looks like they had removed the 6:00am flight from their schedule, so we would be leaving Edmonton in the early afternoon, and then catch a late afternoon flight to Kauai (arriving at 9:00pm).  The schedule change did save us from having to get up at some ungodly hour to catch our flight, but now we would be arriving into Kauai late, and not be able to stop and do our usual Costco run before settling into our accommodation.  I guess at least the silver lining is that the changes didn’t force us to overnight anywhere on the way there or back.

For this trip, I will be reviewing the two flights to Kauai, the new Alaska Airlines Concourse C Lounge, and the return flight from Kauai to Seattle (to compare daytime service vs. overnight service).  I will not be reviewing the return flight to Edmonton as I have flown this route before, and the service is the same both ways.