This is a review of Alaska Airlines flight 479 from New York City to Portland, OR. Alaska Airlines has daily nonstops from JFK to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles with connections to many other cities. Come along with me as we fly to Portland, OR in Alaska Airlines first class.
My flight to PDX was scheduled for a 7:25 am departure. Along with my flight, there were three other Alaska Airlines flights departing in the 7:00 am hour. I took the AirTrain from the TWA Hotel (terminal 5) to terminal 7. You can find my complete review of the historic TWA Hotel and Lounge here. I arrived at the check-in counter at 5:20 and found the economy and first class check-in lines going nowhere. There were four computer stations, four ticket agents and a supervisor but only one computer was up and running. I hope that this experience was the exception and not the rule. I would think that all computers would be booted up by 5:00 am to ensure timely service. Once I got to the agent to check my two bags, things started to run smoothly.
The Alaska Lounge at JFK, Terminal 7
Last year, Alaska Airlines opened a new lounge at JFK. Travel Codex wrote a review of the lounge last year. I arrived at the lounge at 5:40 am. The one thing that I noticed immediately was a lack of employees. In fact, there were no employees visible and I really wanted to get something from the Barista Bar. The lounge is next to the British Airways First and Business Class Lounges in Terminal 7. Large windows look out over the ramp affording great views of the aircraft.
Boarding started on time beginning with those needing more time to board, families with small children and active-duty military. Alaska airlines boards by group letter after the first class boarding. Our Boeing 737-800 (tail# N557AS) was delivered to Alaska Airlines in July, 2006. The aircraft showed its age with the smaller overhead compartments and the older first class seats. Alaska Airlines has a new first class seat which is currently being retrofitted into the Ex-Virgin Airbus aircraft. Our plane had 12 first class, 30 premium economy and 117 economy seats.
As I boarded the plane, I was greeted by our first class flight attendant, Chris. I have been served by Chris before so I knew we were going to have exceptional service. Water bottles, breakfast menus and blankets were already places at each first class seat. Chris offered pre-departure beverages during the boarding process so I got a badly-needed cup of coffee.
Flight 479 was scheduled for a 7:25 am departure but we were loaded and ready to go early, pushing back at 7:18 am. JFK is a large airport and our taxi time for a north departure from runway 4 Left was 29 minutes.
After climbing through 10,000 feet, the hot towel service began. After the towel service, Chris took our drink and breakfast orders.
On long-haul flights, Alaska Airlines usually features two or three choices for the main course. On this flight, there was:
- Montamore omelet
- Pulled pork breakfast bowl
- Fruit and cheese plate
MEAL CHOICE TIP: Install the Alaska Airlines app on your phone so you can pre-order your main course.
Alaska serves first class from seat 1A to 3F (12 first class seats) or 1A to 4F (16 first class seats). There is usually a 50 – 50 split between the main courses listed on the menu. If you are seated in the back of first class, I suggest that you use the Alaska Airlines mobile app to pre-order your main course. You can pre-order your main course from two-weeks to 24 hours before departure. Meal service was timely and began with a pumpkin apple cider smoothie on this pre-Halloween flight. Following the smoothie, breakfast consisted of a breakfast pastry, Greek yogurt with “housemade” granola with cranberry, apple and walnut compote along with the omelet, bacon and potato.
The inflight service was excellent. Chris came by frequently to refill beverages. Prior to arrival, Chris passed the snack basket featuring snacks and fruit to each row of first class.
In-flight Entertainment (IFE)
Alaska Airlines has two forms of IFE aboard their Boeing 737, Airbus A320 aircraft. There are media tablets that are complimentary in first class or a $10.00 rental fee in economy. If you are a top-tier elite with Alaska, the table is free of charge in economy. There is a streaming media server aboard with free access for your laptop, tablet or phone device using the GO-GO entertainment app. Entertainment choices include movies, TV shows, and documentaries. The tablets also have music, X-Box games and a children’s zone. I watched Bohemian Rhapsody again (sixth time?) and Clint Eastwood in “The Mule”.
IFE TIP: there are many more selections available through streaming to your device than there are on the pre-loaded entertainment tablets.
There is also free messaging though I-message, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Wifi internet access is available for a charge.
If you are an avgeek like me, here are the parameters for this flight from flightware.com:
The Final Approach
Aside from the slow process to check in my bags, the service aboard this flight was very good. This level of service is typical of what you can expect from Alaska Airlines. Despite having an appreciable headwind, we still landed 23 minutes early in Portland, OR. The first class food and beverage service was excellent and our flight attendant, Chris delivered a high level of service and his service was timely. Use the streaming IFE to your device for the expanded entertainment library.