It’s been too long since I’ve been on an airplane. The last time was March to be exact, when I flew to New York via San Francisco for pizza. In fairness, I planned that trip to test United’s Polaris seats on a short domestic run. One of my goals is to try new airline products when I can. Hey, might as well have some fun with that by also making each trip a food quest.
Trip Report Series
- Introduction: The Reggie and a Whiskey, Hold the Mint
- Review: Alaska Airlines E-175 Main Cabin, Dallas to Portland
- Review: House Spirits Distillery PDX, A Priority Pass Lounge
- Review: Alaska Lounge Portland, A Priority Pass Lounge
- Review: Alaska Airlines Premium Class, Portland to LAX
Over the summer, I decided it was time to try and fly the Eskimo for the first time. Yes, that’s right, I’ve never flown Alaska Airlines before. Blame the limited options out of Dallas. Alaska’s new service out of Love Field seemed like the perfect opportunity to change that. Though I couldn’t make the inaugural flight in August, the schedule showed plenty of cheap options in September. But I decided to needed to add another piece to make it worthwhile. Specifically, I wanted to make jetBlue Mint happen. And of course, I’d have to mix in a food angle somewhere. That led to a plan for a crazy two days of flying. Fort Lauderdale via Portland and Los Angeles, all for whiskey, Mint, and a chicken sandwich.
The Flight Plan
I originally penciled out the following itinerary:
For those keeping score at home, that’s a little over 6,000 miles. I’d fly Alaska to LAX via Portland, then Mint to Fort Lauderdale. I’d cap things off with a flight on Delta Comfort+ back home. The kicker: to minimize time away from home, I planned to squeeze all of this in on a Friday and a Saturday. I’d leave Dallas at 10:35 on Friday, and be home a little after noon Saturday. Ouch. I really hoped Mint would prove comfortable, because I’d need the sleep on the redeye.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided the second half of this trip needed to wait. Hurricane Irma reared her ugly head a week before departure. Sure enough, both my Mint flight to FLL and my Delta flights home got the ax on Wednesday. In the end, I decided to just fly straight home from LAX, and hold the Mint for another day. (FWIW, both jetBlue and Delta refunded my tickets without incident.) Given the short runway, though, I had to scramble to find a flight home with two days notice. I ended up using some of my wife’s AAdvantage shinplasters to book a Main Cabin saver award back to DFW. Yes, I normally detest using points for domestic flights, but given the last minute cost, it made some sense.
My flight plan ended up looking like this:
Friday, September 8, 2017 – Dallas Love Field (DAL) to Portland International Airport (PDX), Alaska Airlines Flight 3307, Operated by SkyWest, Depart 10:35, Arrive 12:42, Embraer 175
September 8, 2017 – PDX to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Alaska Airlines Flight 434, Depart 16:10, Arrive 18:30, Boeing 737-900
September 8, 2017 – LAX to DFW, American Airlines Flight 1664, Depart 19:30, Arrive 00:44 (+1), Airbus A321
The flight to LA the long way cost a whopping $134, so I just paid cash. Later, I paid $29 to upgrade the PDX-LAX leg to Premium Class. I wanted to see how it compared to other domestic extra legroom offerings.
On the Dallas to Portland leg, though, I stuck with my regular Main Cabin seat. Alaska has been aggressively deploying SkyWest E-175s in lieu of mainline aircraft at DAL, even on lengthy routes like Portland. This gave me the chance to see if 3-4 hour flights on the regional jets made for a viable option.
Why the decision to layover in Portland? Well, for one, Alaska flights from Dallas currently only operate to Portland or Seattle. Thus, I had to pick one. Second, I wanted to allow time to try out one of PDX’s unique Priority Pass options. Specifically, the House Spirits Distillery in Concourse C, where you can enjoy a whiskey tasting for free with PP.
Time permitting, I also planned to make my first visit to an Alaska Lounge.
I’ve also long wanted to try one particular restaurant in Portland; more on that in a bit.
The Hotel Plan
Nada on this trip. With this set of flights, I’d return home late Friday night. That promised to make for one LONG day. But I could sleep in, in my own bed, the next morning.
The Food Plan
I zeroed in on one restaurant in Portland in particular – Pine State Biscuits. I first learned of this Portland institution in the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine about a year and a half ago. The mag put the restaurant’s famous “Reggie” sandwich front and center. Basically, think a fried chicken sandwich on a buttermilk biscuit, with bacon, cheese, and cream gravy.
I confess I’ve been looking for an excuse to go to Portland just to try this sandwich since. Pine State has a location in the Alberta Arts District, a 10-15 minute drive from the airport. As long as we arrived reasonably on time, I’d have plenty of time to savor one. And polish it off with a good whiskey tasting at the airport to boot.
With half the itinerary lopped off, this will be a shorter trip report than intended, with the first installment appearing next week. Thanks for following along!
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – Copyright © Karl L. Swartz
Photo of Alaska Premium Class courtesy alaskaair.com