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Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Manchester, New...
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Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Just got back from an amazing Alaskan adventure trip. We flew Alaska Airlines First Class from the East Coast, and were very disappointed with what we got. Firstly, the seats. While soft and leathery, they barely reclined and they had no footrests. It was like sitting in an over-sized economy style seat with lots of room. The food on-board was fine, no complaints there.

Secondly, the on-board entertainment, or lack thereof. The Digibox, I think is what they call them. This a hand-held box that you can prop on your tray table, although not while you eat. I thought this was an embarrassment to the airline. Half of the features on the box didn't work, and we tried a total of 5 on 3 different flights. There was no map to tell where we were, nor was there flight information of any kind. The movie selection was adequate, but that was about all you could do with it. The games it had didn't work because they require buttons that the machine doesn't have. This is just sad first class entertainment. I would have been really upset if I was back in economy and actually paid for it.

Thirdly, the lounges. This was the biggest frustration and annoyance. We couldn't use them because we are not Board Room members. How stupid is that? We were only allowed into the lounge in Seattle, which was mediocre at best. We were told we could pay $100 for a one day board room pass for the others. Are you kidding me? I just paid $2,000 for a first class ticket!! And, now you want me to shell out another $100 to get into the board room!! Absolutely ridiculous. Arrogant and pompous, too. Not to mention disgusting. When we were in Vancouver, we were told we could also get in if we had an American Express credit card. One of us did, but it didn't do us any good. We needed to have a Canadian American Express card. Give me a break!

Fourth, the lounge in Seattle, the only one we got in. The seating areas were fine. The food was not what I expect in a first class lounge. We had a choice of animal crackers, soup crackers, or boiled eggs. I don't think the time of day should have had anything to do with it (once was in the morning before lunch; once was in the afternoon before and during dinner), because all the other first class lounges I have ever been in had a decent spread no matter what time I was there.

So, it was not a great first class experience with Alaska Airlines. Wait. Scratch that. It was not a first class experience at all with Alaska Airlines. Anybody considering purchasing a first class fare with AS, don't do it. It's not worth it.

New Delhi, India
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1. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

I've never flown them and am surprised not only by their lounge restrictions for first class passengers but also by the arbitrary manner in which it is applied accross their lounges.

Is this restriction clear on their website or other common sources of information?

uk
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2. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

It is quite common IME for US carriers not to offer lounge access to FC passengers on domestic flights.

I know US, UA and AA do not.

London, United...
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3. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Wow, how mean - one of the perks of flying in a premium cabin is the restful lounge experience beforehand - I hope that carriers like BA don't follow suit.

When you pay such a lot for a ticket you should have those perks.

Bangkok, Thailand
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4. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

In the USA domestic flights are usually operated with at most two travel classes: economy and the other one which is usually called "first". This can be as confusing as the fact that in some regions "first floor" refers to the ground floor of a building while in others it is the floor above the ground floor.

The US first class is really more comparable to the business class on European routes, and that is a vastly poorer product than intercontinental first class. As a European you can of course wonder why the US terminology is not in line with more international usage, but I guess the only answer is that it is their English language...

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Many US lounges are very much lacking when it comes to amenities offered. Pathetic foods such as crackers and packaged cheese, maybe a few carrot sticks. Then you get some bartender who is interested more in getting tips than anything else.

Give me a lounge anyday where you can pour your own drinks. The food does not have to be super fancy, but it should at least be better than the typical free offerings you get at low grade motels for breakfast.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

I thought AS gave paid F passengers access to the Boardroom gratis, it has been a while since I flew them but that was the case then. Even so, with a handful of minor route exceptions most US carriers require passengers to be members (or flying internationally plus a few more exceptions) to access their lounges, that's completely normal. Even then the lounges are no great shakes.

Whether or not it's worth it is a purely personal experience, economy is still such a miserable experience that for me the extra for first class domestically makes things more bearable.

To me what you described is a pretty normal first class experience for a domestic carrier within the US.

Fortaleza, CE
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7. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Before you write a post headlined with disappointment with Alaska Airlines, you might do some checking. I thnk you disappointment is in part due to unrealistic expectations. Lack of good in-flight entertainment in first class? On AA, in an MD-80, nothing at all. Lack of access to airline lounges? I gather you haven't flown domestic first class before because, as others noted, this is very, very common. Not an exception. Have you looked to see what lounges permit first class passengers flying just domestic flights? Yeah, I don't like it eithr, but that's reality. We've gotten into clubs only when flying domestic fc in conjunction with international biz class flights OR in clubs where we could use our Am Ex Platinum cards for access (United isn't one, but don't know about Alaska).

Edited: 28 September 2012, 14:35
London, United...
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8. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Still think no lounge access is harsh, All my EU flights (even ones that only last an hour) in Club Europe (BA) have had lounge access.

I have had the experience many times of ORD-LGA on AA (MD80) where there is no in-flight entertainment (but they do have Wi-fi) - I've never bothered with first as the cost wasn't worth it -even more so now I know there is no complimentary lounge access !

It seems like domestic first is like a posh premium economy - same but more expensive !!!

UK
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9. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

What Sutter said,e.g. I believe you would have found a very similar experience with "first" on most US Airlines in respect of seating, food, entertainment and access to lounges.

I'm flying Alaska first class in a couple of weeks so my expectations are already set at the appropriate level, indeed the entertainment services "Samsung Galaxy Tabs I believe) are actually an extra compared to most.

Toronto, Canada
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10. Re: Very Disappointing Alaska Airlines First Class Trip

Sazza23 --while it is true that in Europe a business class ticket (aka First in the US) gets you lounge access, it certainly does not get you a better quality seat.

You still get a regular economy seat, albeit usually with the middle seat blocked. So the Euopean model is lousy seat, better food and a better lounge, and the US model is better seat, debtably better food, and no lounge access.