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Alaska Airlines Economy Review B737-900ER Seattle SEA to New York JFK

October 3, 2023
Osman Dadi
After a last-minute cancellation by Delta, I ended up on an Alaska Airline Economy seat form Seattle to JFK; here is how it went.
From
Seattle SEA
To
New York JFK
Duration
5h19m
Via
Alaska Airlines
Seat(s)
16A
Points Used
N/A
Cash Spent
N/A

This flight was a bit of an adventure, and at the start of the day, I was not even booked on Alaska Airlines economy. I had just arrived from Japan off JAL from Tokyo Narita NRT and was booked on Delta from Seattle to New York.

However, things started to turn right after checking in at the Transfer Desk; I double-checked the flight on my app and noticed my Delta flight was suddenly reshceduled to the following day. They canceled my afternoon departure! Needless to say, just before going through transfer security, I did an about-face and headed back to the Delta transfer desk – where I was cordially rebooked by both the Delta and Alaska Airlines teams onto one of the few remaining seats on the last available flight arriving the same day.

I’m glad Alaska and Delta have interline IRROPS agreements at Seattle despite their fierce competition here.

Alaska Airlines Aircraft at the gate
Alaska Airlines Aircraft at the gate

While I don’t usually review domestic economy flights, I wanted to do this for several reasons. I used to be an Alaska frequent flyer several years ago and wanted to see how they’re doing. I have not flown Alaska Airlines in many years, the last being in 2018, when I switched allegiance to Delta.

Ultimately, I was not blown away by the flight, but the crew was great and friendly. Delta and Alaska stepped up and got me where I needed to go in a timely manner, so I have very little to complain about.

Booking an Alaska Airlines Economy Class Ticket

Arriving at the Delta transfer desk, I hoped they could do something for me since the last thing I needed was a delay to the following afternoon. At the desk, I spoke to the Delta agent at the transfer and asked for options. Unfortunately, everything was already sold out on Delta that day. However, she checked and noticed the 2:30 p.m. Alaska 16 flight to New York JFK still had a few seats left.

My Alaska Airlines aircraft
My Alaska Airlines aircraft

The agent then checked, confirmed she could arrange a transfer, and moved me to the Alaska counter. The Alaska agents were equally helpful and finalized the ticket exchange, and they even assigned me seat 16A, the same one I had on my Delta flight.

Delta Airlines Check in service desk at SEA
Delta Airlines Check in service desk at SEA

I have to say hats off to both Delta and Alaska for this. It was super kind of both the Delta and Alaska teams- I was grateful and appreciative of this gesture. Thankfully, as a result of this transfer, I made it back to New York the same evening despite a flight cancellation.

My newly issued Alaska Airlines Economy boarding card
My newly issued Alaska Airlines Economy boarding card

The Ground Experience

In Seatle SEA, I was transiting from international arrivals to domestic departures. Typically, International passengers arrive in the S Concourse Island wing, with a huge overhead bridge that carries passengers over the tarmac. Then an escalator takes you down below to the baggage claim and then to immigration and customs.

Seattle SEA International Transfer Check In and Security Checkpoint
Seattle SEA International Transfer Check In and Security Checkpoint

After you pass through immigration and enter the US, there is a special junction for transit passengers, including a re-check-in Area and dedicated, special security for transit passengers. In my experience, transiting through Seattle was seamless, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Alaska Airlines Economy Check-In

Checking in was very smooth and was handled by the Alaska agent when transferring my tickets. It was a simple, all-in-one process. That went from not having a ticket to fully checking into my flight in a flash!

Flight Delay and Boarding

I would typically have killed some time in a lounge, but I didn’t this time around. As a result, I spent a significant amount of time in the central concourse. After entering, I had quite a bit of time to kill waiting for the flight, about two and a half hours. And in the end, the flight was delayed as well.

Gate C9 for the My Alaska Airlines Economy flight to JFK
Gate C9 for the My Alaska Airlines Economy flight to JFK

At around 2:15 p.m., I headed to gate C9, and it was clear that boarding would still take some time. Then it was announced that the flight was delayed to 3:05 pm, waiting for the pilots to arrive from a heavily delayed flight from Bend, Oregon.

During the wait, the ground crew offered checked-in bags as the flight was oversold, so no overhead bin space was available. After some thought, I opted to check in a bag to get a better boarding zone of Group C instead of Group E on this flight, which was part of the offer.

Alaska Airlines Economy Boarding

Overall, the boarding was incredibly slow; it took ages for the crew to resolve the baggage situation, and in the end, about 20 passengers had to check their carry-on bags. It seems like everything with Alaska and Seattle is slow in nature.

Gate C9 before the rush to board my Alaska Airlines economy flight to JFK
Gate C9 before the rush to board my Alaska Airlines economy flight to JFK

The Alaska Airlines Economy Cabin and Seats

Sadly, Alaska planes are not aging like a fine wine. The aircraft looked tired, had few features, and had old finishes. The lighting had a dark, sloppy hue and looked like it had not been upgraded in a decade.

Alaska Airlines economy cabin interior
Alaska Airlines economy cabin interior

I am honestly shocked that Alaska gave up its ex-Virgin America products in favor of this style, which is wholly uncompetitive with other major carriers. It was such a to my usual experience flying with Delta. The experience felt far more like being on Southwest Airlines.

Alaska Airline Economy Seat 16A

Alaska uses Recaro seats in its cabins. Unfortunately, I find Alaska Recaro seats to be particularly extremely stiff and uncomfortable. Where the Recaro product is already uncomfortable, this is definitely the worst implementation of a bad product.

Alaska Airlines economy Seat 16A
Alaska Airlines economy Seat 16A

On the upside, my seat was an Emergency Exit over wing window seat, with extra legroom, and featured the airline’s grey leather color scheme.

Alaska Airlines economy Seat 16A brochure holder
Alaska Airlines economy Seat 16A brochure holder
Alaska Airlines economy Seat tray table
Alaska Airlines economy Seat tray table

There is no TV in the back of the seat in front of you. However, there is a power outlet and USB port at front of the seats. On these seats, it is located below the tray table and above the lower mesh storage. There is ample storage beneath the seat.

Alaska Airlines economy Seat power and USB sockets.
Alaska Airlines economy Seat power and USB sockets.

Being an emergency exit seat, there is not much of a view. However, I was still happy to have a window with extra legroom. This seat has a small armrest on the plane emergency exit door.

Alaska Airlines economy Seat luggage storage under seat
Alaska Airlines economy Seat luggage storage under seat
Alaska Airlines economy seat emergency exit row arm rest
Alaska Airlines economy seat emergency exit row arm rest

Seat Controls

The drawback of being in an emergency exit row is that there is no seat recline. However, you do have more legroom. I guess you can’t have everything in life.

Alaska Airlines Economy Inflight Entertainment & Wi-Fi

Alaska does not have an inbuilt IFE system. Instead, you need to connect to the Wi-Fi service and access the IFE system on your device. Once connected, you can access movies, a reader, kids’ entertainment, and a survey system.

Alaska Airlines in flight brochure
Alaska Airlines in flight brochure

Two points stood out in the IFE. First, it was straightforward to connect to the IFE system. Secondly, the kids entertainment had a massive selection of Kids’ Movies and TV Shows.

Wi-Fi

Alaska’s Wi-Fi pricing is competitive, to say the least. They only charge $8 for the entire flight. That is very attractive pricing since I am used to Delta’s horrendous $20-30 transcon internet pricing. One thing to keep in mind if you are a T-Mobile Customer is that you can have free Wi-Fi on your mobile device aboard Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines Wi-Fi information
Alaska Airlines Wi-Fi information

The Flight 

As usual, the crew was super friendly and helpful, and in no time, we had pushed away from the gate and were taxing on our way.

Before long, we were up in the air after an uneventful takeoff, and the crew announced the meal service schedule, with the main service scheduled to begin in a couple of hours.

view from the window
view from the window

Alaska Airlines Economy Class Meal Service

The crew announced that the service would be at key intervals on the flight. They also announced this special on-demand service that I had never heard of before. Basically, outside of the main services, if you needed anything, head to the back of the aircraft and get it yourself from the crew.

The wing seen from my Alaska Airlines economy class seat
The wing seen from my Alaska Airlines economy class seat

The flight had some decent amenities but nothing over the top or special. However, I did browse and enjoy the Alaska Airlines brochure for the flight. It covered a host of perks, including how wine flies free on Alaska Airlines!

The crew was very efficient and duly delivered both meal services promptly, separated by a two-hour interval.

Basic coffee and snacks for me in Alaska Airlines economy
Basic coffee and snacks for me in Alaska Airlines economy

Post Departure & Meal Service

Obviously, this being an Alaska Airlines economy ticket, a meal is not included. However, meals are available to purchase on the flight, but I choose not to do so. On both service runs, snacks were distributed.

A stellar mini bar included Biscoff cookies and buttery pretzels, both vegan and GMO; hot coffee was also available.

Arrival in New York JFK Terminal 7
Arrival in New York JFK Terminal 7

Arrival at New York JFK

We arrived late into New York JFK due to our late departure from Seattle. After touchdown, we pulled into a gate in Terminal 7, which is Alaska’s terminal in JFK.

It took some time for my bags to turn up on the belt
It took some time for my bags to turn up on the belt

The baggage took its time coming, and I waited about 20 minutes for my bag to show up. Which is not bad, I guess. However, I was exhausted after my long trip around the world to get home. Ultimately, I only unlocked the door to my apartment at 3 a.m.

Final Thoughts

Okay, so this flight will not set the world of aviation on fire with excitement. But it did what the doctor ordered and got me home the same day without adding another overnighter to my journey.

Alaska and Delta were super helpful in the wake of my Delta flight’s cancellation and are to be applauded for that. The Alaska crew was excellent and friendly. Overall, there is very little to complain about but also very little to get excited about. I feel Alaska offers a great soft product for transcon economy flights, but the hard product is woefully outdated, uncompetitive, and feels a notch above a budget carrier.

On the flight, I found the snacks and drinks to be good but not outstanding. Although the Alaksa Wi-Fi was brilliant and highly competitively priced. I would not mind flying Alaska transcon again in a heartbeat if needed.

Pros.

  • Very Friendly crew.
  • Lots of service – was frequent and to a high standard.
  • Alaska offers a great soft product with excellent drink and snack options.
  • Meals for purchase.
  • Clean cabin.
  • Power/USB ports.
  • Reasonable WiFi for transcontinental flights; it worked well.

Cons

  • I do not like Recaro seats; this was no exception. These might be the worst done Recaro seats I’ve experienced.
  • Alaska Airlines’ hard product is old and outdated.
  • Planes look old and grimy, with dim lighting and pale yellowing finishes – it feels like being in a 1970s movie or in the Brady Bunch.
  • The seat was uncomfortable and had few amenities.

Verdict: 6.5/10