Review – Alaska Airlines Economy Class – Vancouver to Seattle to Honolulu – 737-800/900

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In November, I flew down to Hawaii for a couple of days with my Dad. While the main purpose of the trip was to obtain our scuba diving certifications (which I now have!), this also gave me the chance to review Alaska Airline’s economy class product on a relatively longer flight. Previously I had only flown Alaska on short flights like YVR-SEA and SEA-SFO.

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Alaska Airlines 737-800 landing at SeaTac during golden hour

Itinerary

Using the Alaska Companion fare from my MBNA Alaska Mastercard, I booked an Alaska Airlines itinerary as follows:

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Alaska Airlines Hawaii Trip itinerary

For this itinerary, the mileage we earned was a total of 3177 Alaska Mileage points per person.

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Alaska Mileage earned for the entire itinerary

I’ll be reviewing the two outbound flights: YVR-SEA and SEA-HNL in this review.

YVR Airport & Check-In

With a super early flight of 6 am, my dad and I got to the airport around 3:30 am, when most of the airport was still quiet. If I remember correctly, the last four times I departed from YVR, I was taking an early flight. Why do I do this to myself? 🙄

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YVR still quiet in the early morning

When we found the Alaska Airlines check-in area, the counters had not yet opened, but automated kiosks were available. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a problem with all the automated kiosks that prevented passengers from checking in, so everyone ended up waiting in line for the counters.

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Alaska Airlines check-in signage
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Automated check-in kiosks, which didn’t work

After some technical challenges with the baggage drop that prevented any Alaska Airlines passengers from dropping off their bag, we made our way through security and into air-side of the trans-border terminal. By the time we made it through to our gate 87, there were only about 20 minutes left until boarding.

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Our flight was boarding at gate 87

YVR – SEA – AS896 – 737-900

A SPECIAL TREAT!!! 😀 Our outbound flight to Seattle was scheduled on Alaska’s special Disneyland livery 737-900! Vancouver isn’t particularly great for plane spotting within the terminal, so the photo below was the best I could capture. Fortunately I was able to snap a photo of it in Seattle later.

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Alaska Airlines Disneyland livery, parked between an Air Canada and WestJet

 

Cabin & Seat Features

The economy class section of Alaska’s 737-900 features a 3-3 configuration. The seat pitch varies between 32-35 inches.

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Alaska Airlines 737-900 economy class cabin

I had selected a window seat (20A) for this flight. It was a perfectly comfortable seat for the short flight, with generous legroom.

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Seat 20A

No IFE screens were available, instead just a literature pocket and tray-table. On longer flights, tablets are available for rental.

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Seat-back literature pocket and tray table

Just beneath the tray table was the power outlet and USB port.

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Power outlet and USB port

As we started pushing back, it was still dark outside.

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Wing view from seat 20A

We had a long taxi from US departures to runway 08R for takeoff. The sky finally started to brighten as we climbed out of YVR. Anyone else just love early morning sunrises?

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Early morning sky

What’s funny about these super short flights in a 737-900, is that when you get up to cruising altitude and the departure announcements wrap up, you already start to descend and the arrival announcements begin. Therefore, there was no beverage or snack service at all, which was totally understandable. After landing in Seattle, we had a short wait for a gate, but it wasn’t much of a delay.

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Alaska Airlines 737-900 “Disneyland Livery” N318AS

SeaTac Airport & AMEX Centurion Studio Lounge

We had about two hours before we had to board our connecting flight to Honolulu, so I decided to put my American Express Platinum Card membership to good use, and check out the newly opened AMEX Centurion Studio Lounge in SeaTac. We hopped on the airport train to Concourse B, where it was located.

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SeaTac airport train
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SeaTac airport train concourse map
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Amex Centurion Studio Lounge at SeaTac

Access to the AMEX Centurion Lounge network requires a valid American Express Platinum Card, as well as a valid boarding pass for travel on the same day. You can also bring up to two guests free of charge.

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AMEX Centurion Studio Lounge reception

An important thing to note is that the Centurion Lounge at SeaTac is not actually a full sized Centurion Lounge, but actually what they call a Centurion Studio, which are a lot smaller and offer fewer amenities. Sure enough, after checking in to the lounge and doing a brief walk-around, it was definitely a pretty small lounge. Fortunately it wasn’t too busy at the time.

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AMEX Centurion Studio Lounge decor

The main area consisted of a variety of seating areas surrounding a central buffet spread. Since it was morning, the buffet was offering breakfast, and mostly consisted of pastries and cold dishes.

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Centurion Studio Lounge seating
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Centurion Studio Lounge seating
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Centurion Studio Lounge seating

There were some awesome looking private booth seating that were reserved. I’m not entirely sure what the process is for reserving these.

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Centurion Studio Lounge private booth seating
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Buffet spread – pastries, cereals, muffins
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Buffet spread – ham, poached eggs, tomatoes
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Buffet spread – bacon egg strata, variety of toast spread and jams

At the back of the lounge was another section featuring a not-yet-opened bar, and an array of two-seater dining tables.

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Bar area

This was also the only area of the lounge that had natural lighting and windows looking out onto the apron.

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View from the lounge

There are no showers at the lounge; just two private washrooms that are well maintained and comforting.

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Lounge washroom

Occitane hand wash and body lotion are available in the washrooms.

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Lounge washroom amenities

SEA – HNL – AS963 – 737-800

After relaxing in the lounge and having breakfast (the ham was surprisingly good!), we headed for our connecting flight to Honolulu. Our plane was one of the old Alaska Airline liveries with the Hawaiian Lei decal on the eskimo. Fun fact: Alaska’s 737-800 that have a Hawaiian Lei decal are all ETOPS-equipped, specifically for operating to Hawaii. Unfortunately these are all slowly disappearing, or have already disappeared, as Alaska repaints them in the new livery.

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Alaska Airlines 737-800 “Hawaiian Lei Livery”

For this flight I had chosen seat 21A, which is yet another window seat. The seat features on this 737-800 are pretty much identical to the 737-900 that brought us from Vancouver, so there isn’t a whole lot to talk about here. The main difference for this flight was that it was a much longer flight at almost 6 hours, so there was beverage service, as well as meal items available for purchase. Having no entertainment on a 6 hour-long flight is pretty boring, so Alaska offers tablet rentals that are pre-loaded with movies and TV shows. In economy class, rental fees are $8 for flights 3-5 hours, and $10 for flights over 5 hours. Tablets are complimentary for first class passengers.

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Seat 21A
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Preparing for push-back at SeaTac

Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines does not offer Inflight Wi-Fi for flights outside of the continental US. This includes routes to Hawaii, Mexico and Costa Rica. This also means that the “Free Chat” service Alaska usually offers is also not available, as it depends on having Inflight Wi-Fi availability.

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Alaska Airlines meal menu, wifi / entertainment / safety card

Meal service is not complimentary on Alaska Airlines flights, but for a flight from mainland USA to Hawaii without any food is a bit of a stretch (for me anyways), so I decided to order something to eat. Browsing through the menu, I noticed a lot of the options were only available depending on our origin / destination, and further restricted by the time of the flight. (My apologies for not taking a photo of the menu, but it’s available on our YouTube Trip Report here.)

I ended up ordering an Island Hash, one of the only available meals for my route. It costed $7US, and consisted of scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers, and a side of Portuguese sausage. It was quite tasty.

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“Island Hash” meal

The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful, as we cruised over the Pacific ocean towards the Hawaiian islands.

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Cruising over the Pacific

As we arrived into Honolulu, we were greeted with beautiful skies and warm weather, a huge departure from the dreary cold rain of the Pacific Northwest during the November months.

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Beautiful weather at Honolulu International Airport

In Summary:

I had a great time flying with Alaska Airlines on both legs of the journey. Even though the two planes I flew on were a bit older and didn’t feature the new Boeing 737 Sky Interiors, the cabin was clean and seat pitch of the economy seats were generous in my opinion. The service was friendly and portrayed the typical Alaska Airlines charm that I came to expect from them.

For a more interactive experience, check out our Trip Report video on YouTube, featuring clips from both flights synced with some chill music:

Have you flown with Alaska Airlines before? What did you think of it? Please comment below to share your experience with us! You can also let us know what you thought about this review.  If you want more reviews and trip reports like this one, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Alvin is an aviation geek, enthusiast photographer, and software developer with a goal of exploring the world. He uses mileage programs to redeem premium flight travel, and shares his experiences here on OneMoreWeekToGo.

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