Good Things about Alaska Airlines
Great Points System– Alaska and ANA are my favorite points systems. Alaska offers really great value traveling to Asia, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, Alaska is the only major airline that awards points based on miles flown rather than dollars spent. This allows you to earn a good amount of Alaska points if you can find a cheap coast to coast flight.
Free Stopover on Awards– You can book one free stopover for a one-way award and two stopovers for a round trip award. This is a very generous policy compared to other airlines. If you combine this with Alaska’s very large definition of Asia (detailed below) for a great deal.
Free Alaska Flight on Partner Awards– You can add on as many Alaska Airlines segments to reach an international gateway city or to your final destination. (e.g. If you are flying on Cathay Pacific from New York to Hong Kong, you could add a free Alaska flight from Portland to New York to start your journey. Or if you are flying Hong Kong to Los Angeles, you can do a stopover in Los Angeles for as long as you want and then add a free one-way Alaska flight to New York, Florida, Dallas, Chicago, D.C, etc.)
Great Customer Service– The Wall Street Journal has named Alaska Airlines to the best U.S. Airline for four straight years.
Bad Things about Alaska Airlines
Only One Major Transfer Partner– Marriott is the only major transfer partner into Alaska Airlines.
No Midwest Hub– All of Alaska’s hubs are on the West Coast. If you live in one of the Rocky Mountain states and want to travel east, Alaska Airlines is not a good option due to the extra travel time and increased cost. Without a Midwest hub, Alaska’s is only convenient for people traveling to or from West Coast Cities.
Lack of Lie-Flat First Class– United, Delta, JetBlue, and American all offer lie-flat seats for first class on several of their transcontinental routes (e.g., NYC/Boston/Washington D.C. to Los Angeles or San Francisco). Alaska Airlines has yet to introduce lie-flat seats on any route.
No Airline Alliance– Alaska is not apart of an airline alliance like most major airlines. This fact is both good and bad. The good thing is that Alaska can partner with a diverse set of airline partners and is not stuck with only alliance partners. The bad part is that Alaska’s partners can change fairly quickly. In 2017, Air France, Delta, KLM, and Aeromexico’s partnerships were canceled. (Mostly because Alaska and Delta were in a fierce battle for Seattle and Delta owns part of those foreign airlines).
Hubs: Primary: Seattle; Secondary Hubs: Anchorage, Los Angeles, Portland, and San Francisco.
Customer Service via Text: You can reach Alaska’s customer service team via text message at 82008. The service cannot accept payments but it could be useful in changing your flight in the event of a cancellation or long delay.
Seat Maps by Plane: SeatGuru
Fees: First Checked bag ($30), second checked bag ($40), third bag ($100), change/cancellation fee ($125), same day flight change ($50), and $6-7 for an alcoholic drink. (Bag fee waivers exceptions)
- Wine Flies Free: You can bring a case of wine home from many west coast cities (map of cities below) for free. All you have to be is a MileagePlus member (free to join) and you will get $25 fee waiver. This is a nice perk for people visiting California’s great wine country.
- Pineapple from Hawaii Flies Free: One properly packaged box of pineapples can be checked for free when traveling within the United States from Honolulu (HNL), Kona (KOA), Maui (OGG), or Kauai (LIH).
Flight Experience: Free in-flight entertainment on your own device (can also rent a tablet for a fee) and free in-flight messaging (iMessage, Facebook Chat, and Whats App). Meals are available for purchase for flights more than 2 hours.
Points Expiration: 24 months from inactivity.
24-Hour Cancellation Policy: You can cancel your flight for free within 24 hours of booking as long as it is more than 24 hours before the flight. (e.g., if you book 30 hours before departure, you still get 24 hours to cancel. If you book 23 hours before departure, you cannot cancel for free)
Same Day Changes- $50. Exception: “shuttle flights (flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Seattle and Portland, Seattle and Spokane) and on flights entirely within California, same day confirmed changes cost $25” (that exception also allows for free standby). Additionally, there is no change fee for MVP elite members and their companions, and those people traveling in F and D (first class) and Y and Z (economy class) tickets. (Full policy)
Trip Delay Statement: Direct message their Twitter team for the fastest response.
20-Minute Bag Guarantee– If your checked bag does not arrive at the baggage carousel in twenty minutes from your plane’s arrival, you are eligible to receive 2,500 points or $25 discount code for future Alaska flight.
Phone Numbers: 1-800-252-7522
Lost Items on Airplanes: Online Form
Reviews: First Class (Review #1)
More Information: Alaska Airlines’ Wikipedia Page