Old May 9, 10, 5:00 pm
Seat 2A
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: East Ester, Alaska
Programs: Alaska Airlines Million Miler, United Airlines Million Miler, Wyndham Rewards Diamond Level
Posts: 7,365
April 18, 2010
Fairbanks – Seattle – Newark
Alaska Airlines First Class
Boeing 737-900 N319AS
Boeing 737-800 N596AS
715a – 1124p

On the road again…” Just can’t seem to get that melody out of my mind lately…

Once again I’m faced with a 5:25am wake up call, which was not particularly pleasant since the effects of jetlag have yet to allow me a proper night’s sleep. I put a pan of water on the stove for my shower, boiled up a cup of coffee, wolfed down a cup of yogurt, stepped into the shower and had barely dried off when the taxi arrived at 5:55am. I said six! But hey, better early than late and within five minutes I was ready to go.

Three months ago I took off out of Fairbanks on a 9:00am departure in complete darkness. Today the sun was just rising as I arrived at the gate lounge.

Early morning departure from Fairbanks

By the time we took to the skies, it was clear that Fairbanks would be in for a beautiful day. Temperatures were forecast to be in the 60s and here I am flying away to Newark, New Jersey. Just for the night though.

Not so long ago I read that Alaska had plans to upgrade their First Class catering on transcon flights. Although the 1533 mile Fairbanks to Seattle flight is normally flown in just three and a quarter hours, the breakfast that we were served this morning was bigger and better than anything I’ve seen offered on Alaska’s transcons in a good long while.

Whereas only last month on this exact same flight I was presented a plate bearing a skinny slice of breakfast strudel accompanied by two little pieces of bacon and some fruit, today I was handed a plate bearing two large halves of French toast, a decent portion of scrambled eggs, two good sized sausage links and some fruit. As an added bonus the French Toast had been stuffed with yams and topped with walnuts. Hopefully we’re not dealing with a one month aberration from the norm because this French Toast and Scrambled Eggs plate is by far the best breakfast I’ve been served on Alaska in a long time. Well done, Alaska!

French Toast and Scrambled Eggs Plate FAI-SEA

Any hopes I had towards adding another photo to my collection of beautiful inflight scenery evaporated in the thick cloud cover that started at about the Yukon border and didn’t thin until we’d begun our descent into Seattle. Even then, the only memorable view I got came as we flew over Boeing Field and I saw two of the new 747-800s as well as a 787 painted in All Nippon’s livery.

Anyone who’s read my past trip reports knows that I not only log my flights, I keep track of a lot of interesting (to me at least) stats. Amongst them is how many of Alaska’s fifty-two 737-800s I’ve flown. I mean, I’ve flown forty-two of them so far, so I might as well try and fly them all, right? As we pulled into gate C-15, I was surrounded by 737-800s that I hadn’t yet flown. Four of them! Alas, none of them were going to New York in three hours.

The aircraft operating this afternoon’s flight to Newark was N596AS, an aircraft I’d flown twice previously. Ah well, nobody said it was gonna be easy. It took me eleven years to fly each and every one of Alaska’s 737-400s, so I reckon I’ve done pretty well after just five years of flying Alaska’s -800s.

It’s been a long time since I’ve flown First Class on an Alaska transcon lunch or dinner flight ~ at least a couple of years. After this morning’s excellent breakfast, I was looking forward to seeing what we’d be served for dinner.

Service started with the distribution of menu cards followed shortly thereafter by cocktails delivered with a small ramekin of mixed nuts. Despite the late hour, I’d opted for a Bloody Mary – and then another. Meanwhile, our flight attendant had returned and was awaiting my dinner order. Here are the menu choices:

Seattle to Newark

Appetizer Salad
Smoked Salmon Torte

Warm Rolls with butter


Braised Beef Rib with Cherry Sauce

Garlic Redskin Mashed Potatoes
Baby Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

Chicken Wellington with Hollandaise Sauce
Grilled Asparagus


Fresh Baked Cookies

Chocolate Chip
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

Coffee and Liqueurs

Cocktails, mixed nuts and a menu – a fine way to start a flight

I’m a sucker for meat wrapped in pastry. And if you’re going to top it with Hollandaise Sauce, well, say no more! And yes please, I will have a refill on that Bloody Mary.

Back in the late Seventies, Frontier Airlines used to serve a fairly decent slab of Beef Wellington. Back then, airlines put more food on their coach meal trays than many airlines serve in First Class today. I’ll bet that slab of Beef Wellington weighed out at 5-6oz. I had it a few times and it was always good. Once I had Pheasant en Croute aboard Aerolineas Argentinas that was not good. It was horribly overcooked and I remember having to chew hard and practically snap my head back to get it down. The thing is, it’s hard enough to reheat meat properly in an airline oven, much less meat ensconced in a supposedly flaky crust. I’ve yet to ever enjoy that flaky crust inflight though Frontier did come close on occasion.

The Smoked Salmon Torte appetizer was quite good, and a bit of a surprise coming from Alaska of whom I’d have expected a less expensive salad greens based appetizer. Could this be evidence of Alaska’s efforts to spruce up its transcon First Class catering? Perhaps someone who flies (or works) Alaska transcons more than I would care to comment.

Smoked Salmon Torte

The Chicken Wellington was impressive. No, the crust wasn’t flaky but both the chicken and its vegetable based stuffing were moist and tender, their flavor accented nicely by the mildly tangy Hollandaise Sauce. I think Alaska’s got a winner in this entrée.

Chicken Wellington with Hollandaise Sauce

Dessert consisted of two average sized cookies. To be honest, I thought as desserts go it was a bit of a letdown after such a nice meal. Don’t get me wrong – the cookies tasted fine but for dessert in transcon First Class? Cookies are for like, dessert in your lunch bucket in fourth grade. No doubt the crowd that supports hamburgers in transcon First Class will cry foul over my sentiments, but I say cookies as dessert for the main meal in First Class cheapens the overall product, not just in cost but in essence. Ah, but what do I know? Most people just want the space and a couple of drinks and as for cookies for dessert? Sure, whatever…

With a good book to keep me entertained, the rest of this flight passed by fairly quickly. A tailwind pushed us along nicely and by the time we touched down at Newark, we were 25 minutes early. Overall, this was a very pleasant crossing of the continent and based upon the food served aboard this flight, I’ll definitely be looking forward to what the chefs have cooked up for my next First Class flight with Alaska.

And now for the eccentric stat of the week: As of this flight I’ve logged over 200,000 miles on 737-800s. Yeah! Gimme five!

At Priceline I’d bid $50.00 on a 3.5 star property at EWR and ended up with a room at the Hilton Newark Penn Station. With taxes and fees it came out to $65.12 which, according to the driver who delivered me from the airport, was less than the employee rate. Interestingly, the reviews on this property at biddingfortravel.com were not good, but then the most recent one was over five years old. I thought my room was of decent size, well appointed and best of all, quiet.

In the morning I headed downstairs for a custom omelet along with a copy of the Newark Star Ledger. Good thing I checked the price on the coffee before automatically saying yes to it – they wanted $5.00. Okay, it wasn’t as bad as Australia where they charge you by the little cup but even so, $5.00 for a cup of coffee – in Newark, New Jersey no less – is just wrong.

Although I’d wanted to go into New York City for a couple of hours before heading out to JFK, there are no longer any baggage storage facilities at Port Authority or any of the train stations. Well, dang! I ended up shelling out $30.00 for a shuttle direct from EWR instead.

Last edited by Seat 2A; Nov 3, 14 at 7:07 pm
Seat 2A is offline  
Reply With Quote