BusinessClass.com - Review of Alaska Airlines First Class
Alaska Airlines First Class
BusinessClass.com expert review by Ramsey Qubein
7
/10
A comfortable flight
Airport Experience - 9/10
Cabin & Seat - 7/10
Cuisine - 8/10
Beverages - 8/10
Service - 9/10
Entertainment - 7/10
Amenities & Facilities - 5/10
Short & Medium Haul - 8/10

Review of Alaska Airlines Business Class

Alaska Airlines is a growing North American airline - based close to Seattle - with a loyal following. Its passengers love Alaska’s focus on supporting brands from the West Coast of the United States. The airline’s recent merger with Virgin America and its new membership in the oneworld alliance have catapulted Alaska from a regional airline to a global name. 

Alaska Airlines has no long-haul flights, and it only operates narrowbody planes. Even its longer transcontinental flights between the American coasts and to Hawaii offer a basic First Class product with recliner seats and limited inflight entertainment. Alaska does not pretend to be something it is not. Instead, it does the basics quite well with a reliable inflight product that is comfortable and fitting for the length of flights it serves.

As a member of oneworld, Alaska partners with more than a dozen airlines with whom passengers can earn and redeem miles for their flights including American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Qantas, Qatar and Royal Jordanian. There is also the opportunity to codeshare with these airlines - travellers can fly multiple oneworld airlines on the same ticket.

Alaska has also forged partnerships with other airlines outside of its alliance, which gives it even greater global reach. Frequent flier members can earn and redeem miles on these airlines, too, including Condor, Icelandair and Korean Air. Uniquely, Alaska still awards its own MileagePlan members miles based on distance flown rather than the cost of a ticket, which has generated much loyalty from fliers. Many airlines have switched to only awarding miles based on the price of the ticket.

 

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9/ 10

Airport experience

Alaska’s main hubs are Seattle/Tacoma and Portland, Oregon - and to a lesser extent Los Angeles and San Francisco. Being so west-coast centric, Alaska is a leader in the region, and this extends to its airports. First Class passengers enjoy priority check-in and boarding lanes, and First Class fliers are treated to access to the Alaska Board Room, the name for its small network of lounges. It is the only mainland U.S. airline to offer lounge access for First Class, even if you are not a member of the Alaska Board Room. Alaska’s new partnership with American Airlines gives Alaska lounge members access to American’s wider network of Admirals Clubs.

Alaska Board Room lounges have an open bar with regional craft beers and wines from the Pacific Northwest or California. Starbucks coffee and barista coffee drinks are usually available, and the buffet has light meals like salads, soup and sweet or salty snacks. One of the most popular features of its lounges are the pancake machines in the morning hours. Its newest lounge in Seattle/Tacoma has beautiful views of the airport, fireplaces and plenty of places to lounge and work.

In some airports, First Class passengers have priority security lanes, too, but this is not uniformly available.

7/ 10

Cabin & Seat

Alaska’s fleet of narrowbody Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 planes is fitted with wide recliner style seats in a 2-2 configuration. These seats are even used on the airline’s longest transcontinental and Hawaii flights. They are not very comfortable for such distances, even if the seat pitch is up to 41". This is more than what other U.S. airlines offer in their standard domestic First Class recliner seats, but far from as comfortable as the widebody aircraft with lie-flat beds offered by other airlines on some domestic routes. Window-seat passengers must climb over their neighbour to reach the aisle, and on really long flights, it is easy to feel trapped without direct aisle access.

A seat pocket is the only storage space, but many planes have power outlets, which are helpful on lengthy flights. When travelling on a transcontinental flight, Alaska will have a hard time competing with the flat-bed seats used by other airlines on premium routes between New York and the West Coast. Individual reading lights and air nozzles are the only other comforts.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested, before making your choice.

8/ 10

Cuisine

Alaska allows First Class travellers to pre-order their preferred meal online before a flight to assure that they get their first choice. The airline offers hearty meals on its flights with everything served on a tray. They include bread, a salad and main dish consisting of a protein or vegetarian option. On some flights, the option may be a sandwich or salad with protein while on others it is a hot plate like chicken with rice or pasta.

Dessert is typically served separately and can include pastries, cake or a warm cookie. On the airline’s longer transcontinental or Hawaii flights, Alaska offers a printed menu with the day’s selection. Everything is hand-delivered from the galley with no carts brought into the aisle. Many of the ingredients on the menu are sourced from West Coast providers.

Special meals are not available, and while there is no dine on demand service, the crew is happy to hold meals for later in the flight should customers wish.

8/ 10

Beverages

Before takeoff, a bottle of water is waiting at each seat, and once in the air, flight attendants offer drinks from the bar. These include one white and one red wine, which are both from the Pacific Northwest. The same regional attention to detail is available in its craft beer selection. Other drinks include spirits like Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Also on offer are mixers, juices, soft drinks, Starbucks coffee and Teavana teas.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes, but feel free to let us know if there is something we missed. 

9/ 10

Service

Alaska flight attendants are uniformly friendly and service-oriented providing a welcoming environment. As a smaller airline than others in the U.S., Alaska is proud of its size and operation as well as expanding network.

7/ 10

Entertainment

Alaska Airlines does not provide personal monitors for inflight entertainment. Instead, passengers can access the free “Alaska Beyond” entertainment on their own personal devices. Fliers must remember to bring headphones as they are not always stocked on board. By using the online wireless internet signal, they can connect to entertainment programming including Hollywood movies and music. There are over 500 movies and more than 550 episodes of short-subject programs or sitcoms. Headspace meditation sessions are a nice way to relax inflight or be lulled into a nap.

Alaska allows passengers to connect to the inflight wireless internet signal for free texting. They can also pay to use the full internet by the hour or a flat price for the full flight.

Wireless internet is not available on certain Boeing 737-900 MAX planes or its regional fleet of Bombardier Q400 planes.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on WiFi and inflight entertainment.

5/ 10

Amenities & Facilities

Blankets are available, but Alaska does not offer pillows or amenity kits on any of its flights. The lavatories are basic with no additional amenities, and the airline does not offer bassinets on its flights.

One unique feature for Alaska Airlines is that passengers can check wine purchased at select West Coast wineries free of charge in addition to checking the standard two bags that are free with a First Class ticket.

8/ 10

Short & Medium Haul

Alaska Airlines does not have long-haul flights, but on its shortest flights, First Class passengers are still treated to refreshments. Meals are reserved for flights of at least 670 miles making it one of the few U.S. carriers to offer meals on flights that short. On other flights, a snack basket with sweet and savoury munchies is passed round.

Some short- and medium haul flights are operated by Horizon Air, a regional subsidiary of Alaska Airlines flying smaller aircraft. Planes operated by Horizon are co-branded as Alaska Horizon. Embraer 175 regional jets are equipped with a First Class cabin in a 1-2 configuration and offer a similar onboard experience to that of Alaska. Flights operated by Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft do not offer First Class.

Sustainability

Alaska pays close attention to its ecological footprint and is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Using sustainable fuel and operating with more energy-efficient flight plans are both focuses for the airline. At some of its hubs, it uses electric ground equipment and Alaska is working with Carbon Direct to target carbon off-setting opportunities to help it reach its 2040 goal.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.

What We Love

  • Alaska’s pride when it comes to supporting West Coast and Pacific Northwest businesses through the products it provides on board
  • Free lounge access for First Class passengers, something other North American carriers do not provide
  • Alaska Airlines is renowned for its genuine and friendly service – in the lounges and onboard.

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