Alaska Airlines


When I was looking for flights, I saw that the cash prices for one-way tickets were rather inexpensive – I paid $169 for the journey using my Citi Prestige Card, which earned me 507 Citi ThankYou points due to the 3x bonus category on paid flights. I could have used my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which earns 3x points on travel, or my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns 2x points on all travel and dining expenditures made globally. For my last-minute one-way travel, I was also able to earn 2,421 Alaska miles.

Are you thinking about utilizing your miles to pay for your trip? There are several alternatives available. When redeeming Alaska MileagePlan miles, the airline employs a distance-based reward system separated into four categories: Hop, Skip, Jump, and Leap. Because the transcontinental flight from JFK to SEA is little over 2,400 miles, depending on availability, you’d need to redeem between 12,500 and 20,000 Alaska points to book. If you don’t have enough Alaska miles, remember that you may transfer points from SPG at a 1:1 ratio. You’ll also get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred, so if you can locate tickets at the lowest redemption level of 12,500 miles, you might only need to transfer 20,000 Starpoints to earn the 25,000 Alaska miles needed for a round-trip transcon journey.

Alaska flights may also be booked with American AAdvantage points; the one I took would have cost 12,500 AA miles for the one-way journey.

Airport and Check-In

Because my flight left at 7:15 a.m., I arrived at JFK’s Terminal 8 well before daybreak, which meant the terminal wasn’t packed and check-in would be quick. Even though American dominates the terminal, I thought it surprising that there were just two self-service kiosks for Alaska check-in.

I had the entire check-in area to myself and rushed to the security line because I’d previously checked in online and was just taking a carry-on bag. Everyone else in the still-dark terminal appeared to be half-asleep — I’m sure I did, too — but the screening was swift, and I was on my way to the gate in no time.

I spotted American Airlines logo on the gate and the agents wearing AA name tags. Boarding started on schedule, and I didn’t have to deal with the normal throngs at the gate because most of the passengers surrounding it were still tired and slow-moving, which worked to my advantage.

Cabin and Seat

This Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900 has a two-cabin design, with 16 reclining seats in a 2-2 configuration in first class, with 36 inches of pitch and 21 inches of width.

The economy cabin has 165 seats arranged in a 3-3 configuration; they are 17 inches wide and have a pitch of 32 to 35 inches.

I picked window seat 21A. The economy seats were comfy enough for my nearly six-hour travel across the nation, despite their small look.

The seat-backs didn’t have IFE screens (more on that later), but they did have a spot for the standard seat-back material, such as the in-flight magazine, safety card, amenity list, and food and beverage menu.

Each seat had USB and universal AC power connections, which was really convenient – especially on a lengthy journey.

I found the legroom adequate, however it was obviously more tight with my backpack below the seat in front of me. Because I’m not very tall, legroom in coach isn’t normally as important to me as seat breadth.

Even though the seats did not include a seat-back IFE screen, some of the middle seats still featured that irritating box that takes up a lot of room, as shown in the image below, so verify with Seatguru before selecting — or being stuck in — a middle seat.

Food and Drink

On flights longer than two hours, Alaska Airlines sells meals. I hadn’t eaten anything before leaving, so I was looking forward to seeing what the carrier had to offer for breakfast. My veggie skillet ($8) did not disappoint – it was served hot and tasted delicious. Several times during the journey, the flight attendants came down the aisle and inquired if we wanted anything else to drink. This was a wonderful touch because it was such a long journey and it would be easy to become dehydrated if you didn’t bring your own water with you.

Amenities and In-Flight Entertainment

This 737 does not have seat-back in-flight entertainment, so passengers must bring their own entertainment. If you don’t want to bring your own tablet or laptop, Alaska will rent you a tablet loaded with content if your flight is longer than 3.5 hours — it will cost you $8 for flights between 3.5 and five hours, and $10 for flights longer than five hours.

The tablets came with a variety of movies, TV series, games, and music, but it wasn’t very amazing. Call me fussy, but I didn’t think the options were all that fantastic, and I’d recommend carrying a laptop or tablet pre-loaded with entertainment, especially if you’re flying cross-country.

Alaska provides Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi on its Boeing 737 (except the unique 737-400C passenger/cargo combination aircraft) and Embraer 175 planes. Because I was on a longer journey and needed to get some work done, I got the Alaska All Day Pass for $16, which gave me internet access for the duration of the flight. I wasn’t shocked, though, to discover that Wi-Fi speed was subpar — I could load and respond to emails, but uploading and downloading files took an eternity.

Overall Thoughts

I mostly loved my one-way journey with Alaska Airlines. The staff was kind and responsive, the food was delicious, and I was able to stay (largely) connected while travelling across the nation. If I were traveling to or from the Pacific Northwest, I would definitely consider flying Alaska again.

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