Alaska Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Orlando (and back)

Alaska Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Orlando (and back)

What you’re about to read is a monster of an Alaska Airlines 737-900ER first class review. It covers a full round trip journey from San Diego (SAN) to Orlando (MCO), and as you will see, it’s freaking through

Segment 1 of 2: San Diego to Orlando

I sort of knew that I was going to regret flying Alaska Airlines to Florida, and it all started when my parents asked me for my flight details so that they could prepare for my arrival.

“It’s Alaska Airlines flight number 760 from San Diego” I said, holding my face in the palm of my hand in anticipation of a confused reply loaded with silly questions.

You see, Alaska airlines isn’t very well-known in the eastern part of United States, as it’s only been in the past few years that they’ve made an aggressive push eastwards in an attempt to grow their network beyond the West Coast. Simply saying the words “Alaska Airlines” is enough to make some people in the east (such as my parents) think of old and rickety DC-3’s flying pallets of fresh salmon down from the Arctic.

“No mom, they are actually a major airline with a hub in San Diego, and they fly to a lot more places than just Alaska. Including Orlando.” A long and awkward pause followed, and I knew that I would be spending a majority of this trip explaining the Alaska Airlines business model over and over to my entire family.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Orlando, FL (MCO)
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Aircraft: 737-990/ER
Registration: N486AS
Duration: 3 hours 59 minutes
Seat: 4A (first class)

Alaska Airlines 737-900/ER side view illustration
Alaska Airlines 737-900/ER (N486AS) side view illustration by This is the 2015 “Updated” livery which I didn’t even know existed until I did the research to create this illustration.
Our route from SAN to MCO
Our route from SAN to MCO today: ZZOOO2 IPL J2 HEEDS J2 TUS J2 ELP J86 LEV Q100 REMIS PIE COSTR3

Fancy a video to go with this written trip report? Ask and ye shall receive (soundtrack courtesy of Epidemic Sound):

I love flying out of San Diego International Airport (most of the time). Its not so fun when I have to get out of bed at 3am to catch a 6am flight, and flying out of terminal 1 sucks pretty bad too.

The pinnacle of suckage involves a 6am flight out of T1, but thankfully I didn’t have it that bad this morning because my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 10-ish. So things were only half sucky, and I tried to keep my mind focused on the positive as I walked in and queued up in the security line.

Terminal one San Diego airport
Ugh. Terminal 1. As repetitive as it’s become over the last year or so, it’s definitely a lot more fun to start a trip report with a picture of the exterior of terminal 2 instead.
Terminal 2 San Diego airport design details
There are actually some pretty neat design details in this old building, but that doesn’t stop it from sucking pretty hard.
Alaska airlines check-in San Diego airport
Alaska airlines check-in counters here in terminal one. On a side note, how many people do you see looking at me as I take this picture? I count three…
San Diego airport terminal one interior
Here’s a picture looking the other direction. Neat, huh? Yes, I’m stalling and trying to avoid going into the Circle of Death too early.
San Diego airport terminal one departures
Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to kill time here in terminal 1 before going through security. Staring at the flight board will eat up a minute or two, which doesn’t help me much considering that boarding for my flight doesn’t begin for another hour.
San Diego airport terminal one entrance
Well, this is it. I’m past security now, and up those escalators is the Circle of Death. Can I get a “good luck and Godspeed”?

I did fairly well timing my arrival to the airport so that I wouldn’t have to spend very much time waiting before the flight. There is absolutely nothing to do here in terminal 1 (“Circle of Death” sounds better don’t you think?), and good luck finding a quiet place to sit and relax.

This terminal is far too overcrowded at most times of the day thanks entirely to Alaska Airlines and their very aggressive growth here in San Diego over the past few years. They have pushed terminal 1 to it’s absolute limits, and it’s going to be so much better when they move over to terminal 2 east soon.

Crowded terminal 1 San Diego international airport
See what I mean? Good luck finding a place to sit down!
Alaska airlines 737 San Diego international airport
It’s a good thing that I’m a total airline nerd, because watching the ground crew prep our plane to Orlando easily killed another 10 minutes.
Gate 17 terminal one San Diego international airport
Somewhere in all this chaos is gate 17, which is our departure point for this flight to Orlando this morning. If you squint your eyes and tilt your head, you can probably see it way back there.
Alaska airlines gate wait list
Good luck Chi/D – we’re all rooting for you!
Alaska airlines mobile boarding pass
Never mind my mobile boarding pass. What the heck is that guy doing in the left-hand side of this picture?

The pain of being stuck in the Circle of Death for more than 20 minutes caused me to not even notice if we boarded on time. I think we did, but I really can’t say for certain.

San Diego airport jet bridge terminal one
The feeling of finally being free of the Circle of Death is a feeling like nothing else.

It’s been several years since I’ve last been in Alaska Airlines 737-900 first class, and I guess I was sort of expecting things to be a little bit different than last time. I mean, they just swallowed up Virgin America, so it would seem logical to think that maybe they learned a thing or two from that transaction about being hip and offering a fun and competitive first class product. My hopes were high as I walked down the jet bridge and onto the plane.

Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that this was the same old first class product that I remembered from several years ago. Absolutely nothing had changed – the seats were still exactly the same and covered in that familiar blue leather-like material (there’s no way that’s real leather), and the Alaska-style markings on the bulkheads hadn’t changed either.

(Update: the all new Alaska Airlines first class product is much better!)

Alaska airlines 737–900 first class seats
Alaska Airlines 737–900 first class seats. No white leather to be found unfortunately. And, for the record, these seats are a lot more wrinkly than the seats in Alaska Airlines E175 first class. Just sayin’.
Complimentary bottle of water at every seat
Complimentary bottles of water at every seat was a nice touch. It’s kind of like they’ve been reading my trip reports and they know all about my fascination with drinking water on airplanes…
Alaska airlines first class leg room
Legroom was pretty good. Not quite Virgin America good, but pretty good nonetheless.
Space under seat first class Alaska airlines
Either my backpack was full of too much stuff, or the space under the seat was too small. It was probably a little bit of both.
SANspotter selfie Alaska Airlines
Fun fact: The first thing I do when I board an airplane is to stuff earbuds deep in my ears as a way to prevent getting sucked into an unending conversation with a chatty seatmate. I’m not antisocial or anything, but once you get stuck sitting next to someone trying to sell you on an MLM pyramid scheme and you can’t get away, you’ll do anything to prevent it from happening again.
Alaska airlines 737–900 safety card
Nerd alert! “Look Barbara, he’s taking a picture of the safety card!”

Despite things looking the same as I remembered from last time, there was one big change that didn’t reveal itself until all of the first class passengers were onboard and we were just about ready to push off the gate. That’s when the flight attendant came through the cabin handing out menus for the lunch service.

It turns out that Alaska Airlines had just revamped their entire menu several weeks prior, offering a much higher quality product with some very delicious (and fancy) options. My last meal in Alaska Airlines first class was hardly memorable, so I was very much looking forward to giving this new menu a try.

For the record, I actually pre-ordered my meal on the Alaska Airlines app several weeks prior, which ended up being unnecessary since both options were still available when the orders were taken.

 Alaska airlines first class lunch menu
The lunch menu. What would you choose?
Alaska airlines upcoming features
On the backside of the menu was a little preview of what’s to come over the next year at Alaska Airlines! Looks nice, but I don’t see anything here about white leather seats and purple mood lighting.
Alaska Airlines 737–900 first-class cabin
How do you say “let’s go!” in Eskimo?

It was a dark and gloomy departure out of San Diego this morning, but the skies cleared and the sun shined just as expected just minutes after take off. It’s always a treat to look down on the city I love so much, though it does make me start to feel a bit of homesickness even before the trip really begins.

Alaska airlines pushback from gate San Diego Airport
I can’t really say that I was sad to leave terminal 1.
San Diego airport 737
Ooh look! Another 737 – how exciting!! (Said no AvGeek ever).
Departing for MCO Alaska airlines San Diego airport
Next stop: MCO! At least I hope so…
 Departing SAN Alaska airlines 737
The beauty of departing San Diego International airport. It’s always amazing, even on gloomy days like this.
Flying over point Loma San Diego
I’m not even sure that I blinked once as we rounded the tip of Point Loma.

The flight attendant came through the first class cabin handing out little balls of fire (extremely hot towels) 10 minutes after departure, and it wasn’t long before they came through again taking drink orders.

A little unexpected treat was the fact that they also served warm nuts with the drinks, which really hit the spot considering that I was starting to feel hungry. Remember, I flew out of terminal 1 this morning, which has very few options for a quick and delicious breakfast.

Alaska airlines first class warm nuts
Mmm, I love warm nuts! Hey – get your minds out of the gutter…
Flying over the American Southwest
Enjoying the view while I fondle my warm… ok…let’s not go there. On to the next pic…
Contrail shadow
Check out that cool contrail shadow!

Next up was the distribution of portable video players, which was complementary for all first class passengers. These same video players were available to those in coach today as well, for a cost of $10 per person. I passed on it, not exactly feeling in the mood for movies or TV. Lunch was the only thing on my mind at this point, which was perfect because that’s what’s coming next…

Alaska airlines first class lunch
This is the vegetarian ravioli. Nothing I would call amazing, but still pretty darn good for airplane food and much higher quality than what they used to serve here in first class.

Overall, the lunch service on today’s flight was pretty good, though a bit on the slow side. I was seated in row four, and by the time the flight attendants reached me, the people in the first two rows had already finished their meals and were waiting for their trays to be cleared.

So, I guess that means if you want to be one of the first ones to eat on Alaska Airlines, you need to sit in the first two rows. Those of us in rows three and four had to suffer a bit as we waited our turn to feast.

I devoured my meal completely, making me realize that I was much hungrier than I thought I was. It wasn’t the best first class meal I’ve ever had, but it was pretty darn tasty and I had no complaints.

Delicious Alaska airlines first class food
Props to the Alaska airlines culinary staff!

But wait, there’s more! Another unexpected little treat were the little containers of Nancy’s Fancy vanilla ice cream they handed out about an hour after the meal service. I

thought for sure that there would be nothing else other than a snack basket for the rest of the flight to Orlando today, but they came through in a big way with that ice cream and I had fun for the next 30 minutes chiseling away at it with the fork they served it with.

It eventually thawed enough to eat, and it was a nice and flavorful complement to the view outside of my window as I bobbed my head to an eclectic selection of music.

Alaska airlines first class ice cream
Normally I would scoff at eating ice cream with a fork, but it was so hard that it ended up being the perfect tool for the job.
Listening to public enemy on a flight
Nothing pairs with vanilla ice cream better then a little bit of Chuck D and Public Enemy. Hey, I’m from Detroit, so cut me some slack will ya?
Listening to music in flight
Actually, there’s probably nothing scarier than a white boy like me head-bobbing to Public Enemy on an Alaska Airlines flight to Orlando.
Cotton ball clouds
Cotton ball clouds: a very clear indication that we are somewhere over the southeastern US by now.
Alaska airlines 737–900 lavatory
If this were a picture of a Delta 757 lav, would you even be able to tell?
SANspotter selfie Alaska airlines
The look on your face when you realize that you just announced to the world that you still listen to public Enemy with the same head-bobbing enthusiasm you had when you were 13.
Alaska airlines 737–900 first class cabin
I’m willing to bet pretty much anything that I was the only one up here in first class today jamming out to Chuck D and his crew.

I think I napped for a little bit once I came down from the sugar high, because I woke up just as we were approaching the Western coast of Florida. We came in right over top of Tampa, which seemed odd to me considering that it’s so much farther south than Orlando and it seemed to be a little bit of an awkward way in to MCO. But then again, I’m not a pilot so what do I know?

Flying over Tampa Florida
Don’t you hate waking up from a deep sleep just as you’re flying over a major city and you have absolutely no idea where you are? It’s trippy as hell.
Approach into Orlando airport
Wait, this is Florida? Impossible! Where all the thunderstorms and hurricanes?

The most interesting thing about the approach into Orlando was the fact that there weren’t any clouds in the skies above Florida today. Seriously – flying into Florida in the late afternoon can be a scary experience with the notorious storms that bubble up here on a daily basis, but there was none of that happening today.

It was the most beautiful and clear landing that I’ve ever experienced at any airport in Florida, and it honestly felt a bit weird. The last time I was here, the storms were fierce and the butt-pucker factor was pegged in the red zone.

Once on the ground, the pilot left her in high gear and we darn near flew over to our arrival gate. It was the fastest taxi that I’ve ever experienced, and combined with the sunny blue skies overhead, it was sensory overload.

Arrival at Orlando airport
We were moving so fast that I honestly have no idea how this pic didn’t turn out blurry as hell.

Unfortunately, that fast taxi over to the gate sort of bit us in the ass because we had to sit and wait for about 20 minutes for our gate to open up. I’m not sure what the hurry was if our gate was already occupied, but they were very much in a rush to get us over there as fast as humanly possible. Weird.

Waiting for a gate Orlando airport
So close, but yet so far. Sitting idle waiting for our gate open up.

The only benefit for having to sit there and wait was the fact that it gave me some time to think about how I was going to respond to all of those silly Alaska Airlines questions I was sure to get from my family over the coming week.

Alaska airlines 737 Orlando airport
Thanks for the ride today! You are a good looking bird, but I’m hoping to fly on one of your brothers or sisters wearing the new livery on the way home. Let’s hope that happens…

Segment 2 of 2: Orlando to San Diego

If I was a normal (sane) human being, I would have relaxed a bit and passed on the opportunity to review the return segment to San Diego. I mean, it was the exact same flight – but in reverse. Even the seat was the same! 

I’m far from normal though, so here we go with a full report of what the return trip was like:

Orlando, FL (MCO) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Aircraft: 737-990/ER
Registration: N434AS
Duration: 4 hours 55 minutes
Seat: 4A (first class)

Alaska Airlines 737-900/ER new livery side view
Alaska Airlines 737-900/ER (N434AS) side view illustration by This wasn’t a very fun livery to illustrate (asymmetrical overlapping swoops give me heartburn), but it might just be my #1 favorite at the moment.
MCO to SAN route map
Our route from Orlando to San Diego today: CAMDT CTY SZW MGM MHZ KF15G FUZ INK ELP SSO TFD GBN J18 HOGGZ LUCKI1

My parents live about an hour and a half south of Orlando along the Atlantic coast, so my day began mentally preparing myself for a drive up the I-95 over a bowl of Cheerios. Dad insisted on grilling burgers for before I left (“you gotta start the day with a good meal!”) which wasn’t totally necessary considering that I had to be out the door at 10:30 AM and those Cheerios hadn’t even started to digest yet.

So there we sat as a family out on the back porch eating burgers at 10 AM even though nobody was hungry, and it didn’t bother me a bit. My dad is cool as hell.

Driving to Orlando airport
Cruising at a pretty good clip up the I-95 on the way to MCO, second-guessing my decision to leave early to avoid all the “crazy traffic”.

Despite expecting congestion worse than the 405 in LA, there was absolutely zero traffic on the drive up to Orlando and I arrived early with plenty of time to kill before my flight.

Everyone had been telling me how much of a zoo MCO was going to be with it being spring break and all, but it was a total breeze and I was checked in and through security in less than 15 minutes. Yeah, “anticlimactic” is probably the best word to describe the start of this trip home.

Orlando airport ticketing counters
Somewhere down this hallway is the Alaska Airlines ticketing counter. I think it’s right down there past Copa and Avianca (a subtle reminder that I need to try both ASAP).
Alaska airlines check-in MCO
Bingo. It’s a good thing that I’m traveling light today with only a carry-on bag, because that line looks almost as much fun at the one down at the DMV and I wanted none of it.
Orlando airport information desk
I was half tempted to walk up to that information desk and ask about the maximum range of a fully-loaded 737–900/ER (just to test how smart they actually are).
Orlando airport inter terminal train
There are four satellite terminals here at MCO, and the only way to get to them is a ride on the tram. This is the home of Disney World after all, so it felt totally natural.
MCO airport tram
Is that an ugly train or what? It was fun though!
Orlando airport terminal interior
As usual, I am one of the first to arrive at the gate. But hold on a second… I see some interesting birds out there. Let’s go have a look!
TAM 767-300 Disney livery
How perfect is that? It’s a TAM 767–300 with a Disney livery. I’m guessing that this plane has been here a time or two before.

If you’ve never been to MCO, you would probably be very surprised at the amount of international traffic that filters in and out of this place. From Emirates to Thomas Cook to TAM (and everything in between), it’s obvious that the entire world has a strong fascination with Mickey Mouse and all of his Disney-branded friends.

Maybe it’s because I live in the US and I first went to Disney World at a very young age, but it’s interesting to me that people would fly in from all over the world to burn up valuable vacation time at Disney World. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just don’t get it.

OK, I’m getting way off track here and this hasn’t been much of an Alaska Airlines trip report so far. Telling you that the aircraft doing the honors of flying me from Orlando to San Diego this afternoon was wearing the new livery would be a fantastic way to get this pointed in the right direction again, so let’s do that.

Yep, I was pretty excited about this because I haven’t had any luck getting on an aircraft wearing these new colors yet, and that was kind of cool.

Alaska airlines new colors
Finally! After all these years (ok it’s only been two) I’m finally getting a chance to get a ride on an AS 737 in that beautiful new livery!

I thought for sure that it was going to be a very light load to San Diego today, because the gate area was fairly empty up until about 20 minutes before the boarding process started. It filled up really quickly after that though, as if they were all waiting until the very last minute to leave Disney World before coming to the airport.

I could only dream of having precision timing skills like that, because I always seem to show up stupidly early wherever I go.

Anyway, for those of you who are curious, yes – you can do a short layover in the Orlando airport without stressing out. I can’t – but you (and every other normal person in this world) probably could.

Gate 111 Orlando airport
Starting to get busy here at gate 111!
Alaska airlines mobile boarding pass
14 minutes until boarding time. Not like I’m counting the minutes or anything…
Alaska airlines first class boarding line
It’s always a special feeling to be considered “First Class & Elite” – most days I’m just “Dull & Insignificant”, so I was really enjoying this moment!
Orlando airport jet bridge
No, this isn’t creepy at all.
Alaska Airlines 737–900 first-class cabin
Hold on a second…still trying to get to my seat.
Alaska airlines first class space under the seat
There we go! Oh, and thanks mom – I appreciate all the snacks and goodies you threw at me as I was leaving, but it has made my backpack even fatter and even more impossible to fit under the seat in front of me.

It was indeed a full flight this afternoon, and it took a good long while to get that 737–900 filled up ‘til no seat was left. I passed the time by taking pictures of the safety card and sipping on water (usual SANspotter stuff) while the rest of the passengers up here in first class did far more normal things like stalking on Facebook and taking advantage of the free alcohol.

Alaska airlines first class lunch menu
A completely different menu than what was on my previous flight. I’ll bet that you’re just dying to know what I chose! Or maybe you couldn’t could care less and are looking forward to my next trip report instead? It’s OK. I don’t mind.
Alaska airlines improvements
Unfortunately, the backside of the menu which explained all the things that are coming to Alaska Airlines in the next year hadn’t changed since last week. I’m still waiting for them to come to their senses and announce a fully lie-flat business class product between the West Coast and New York, but I’m seeing no mention of that here.
Free texting Alaska airlines
Wait, what? I was so focused on making sure that this picture was in focus that I completely missed the fact that there is now free texting on Alaska Airlines. Whoa! I totally missed my chance to ask my friends annoying questions like “guess where I am?”
SANspotter selfie Alaska Airlines first class
Not only am I sitting in the exact same seat on the exact same kind airplane that I was last week, I do believe that I’m wearing the exact same shirt as well. I hope nobody notices.

Just as it was on the way in to Orlando a week ago, the skies were clear and bright as we made our way out of town and pointed west towards San Diego.

Experiencing such nice weather in Florida is nothing short of odd to me, because if it’s not raining cats and dogs by 3 PM, it’s hard to remember that I’m actually in Florida and I might as well be anywhere else in the southeastern United States. Afternoon thunderstorms are mandatory in Florida – will someone go please remind Mother Nature of this?

Alaska airlines in Florida
Pushback. It was right about this time that I was thinking about how well traveled this airplane was. It probably spends a lot of time up in Alaska, and here it is way down here in Florida today. That’s a long haul for a 737!
Departing Orlando airport Alaska airlines
Saying goodbye to Florida yet again, but I’ll be back again in December. That’ll give me plenty of time to think about a fun and exciting way to get here that would be worthy of yet another San Diego to Florida trip report. Routing through Doha on Qatar sounds fun…
Departing MCO
“I think Disney World is over there on the left in that dark spot!” “Nuh uh, it’s back there on the right…” (the things you hear from other passengers when departing MCO).

I am a huge fan of consistent airline products, and 20 minutes into this flight I was feeling pretty good (and having deja vu) about the Alaska Airlines first class experience. So far it had been a complete mirror copy of what I experienced on the San Diego to Orlando segment one week prior. Menus were distributed while on the ground, with drinks and warm nuts arriving exactly 10 minutes after takeoff.

 Alaska airlines warm nuts first class
The service was so completely identical to my previous flight that it would not have surprised me one little bit if there were the exact same number of nuts in this dish as there was last time. Dang it, I should have counted!

Complementary portable video players were also handed out just like last time, so I decided to take advantage of the freebie and see what it was all about. This is a trip report after all, and I’ve got to try everything even if I don’t really care to watch movies or TV.

Long story short, it was actually a nice little Microsoft-based product. Android and iOS offer the best mobile experiences by far, but I’m happy to report that this felt fairly high-end and I never cursed once as I tried to find something good to watch.

Alaska airlines portable video players
Dang it. My snack is nearly gone and I haven’t even started watching anything yet!

Lunch was served approximately 20 minutes after the warm nuts, and just like last time, those of us in rows three and four had to wait while those in rows one and two feasted like kings. Yes, the service is slow, but at least they’re consistent and it was exactly the same as it was on my previous flight. I don’t mind slow service as long as I know what to expect going in.

Alaska airlines first class vegetarian meal
The vegetarian option seemed like the responsible choice considering that I had already eaten two hamburgers before 10 AM today.
SANspotter selfie alaska airlines first class meal
There’s not much room to spread out and eat comfortably here in Alaska Airlines first class, but if you put food in front of me I’ll find a way to eat it. And for the record, I am not complaining! This is light years better than Alaska Airlines Embraer 175 first class.
Alaska airlines in flight window view
What is it about gazing down on the clouds below that makes you reflect upon the fact that you’ve eaten a ridiculous amount of food over the past week and that things need to change as soon as you get home?
Alaska airlines 737–900 first-class cabin
I wonder if there are any plans to change that Alaskan-themed tapestry on the bulkhead to something else? It doesn’t really fit thier brand image anymore, and I’m thinking that transparent purple bulkheads would look much better. #godimissvirginamerica

The only thing different about the service this time compared to last was the timing of the rock-hard Nancy’s Fancy vanilla ice cream. On the flight from San Diego to Orlando, they served it approximately one hour after the meal. On this flight to San Diego, it came immediately after they cleared the trays.

And no, I totally did not need ice cream today considering that I was eating hamburgers by 10 AM and I had just finished a huge carb-loaded lunch. Although unnecessary, ice cream is really hard to resist when it’s sitting there right in front of me, so I tipped my hat to Nancy before diving in head first.

Nancy’s fancyIce cream Alaska airlines first class
Damn you to straight to hell Nancy. I totally don’t need you right now, but you’re just so impossibly hard to resist.

The majority of the flight after the meal service consisted of napping on and off in between tinkering with that portable video player. I don’t really know what the deal was, but my attention span was not strong enough to watch a complete movie from beginning to end and I just went back-and-forth from napping to watching to napping to watching.

The flight attendants kept busy by coming through the aisle every now and then with beverages and snack baskets, but putting more things into my belly was the absolute last thing on my mind. I had consumed a sufficient amount of calories for today, and I felt ashamed even thinking about food.

Alaska airlines 737–900 first class bathroom
Finally! Do you have any idea how satisfying it is to be able to post a picture of an airplane lavatory that isn’t a cookie-cutter copy of hundreds of others that I’ve already posted? This is a good looking bathroom, complete with deep blue mood lighting!
Apple Watch travel
OMG are we there yet?
Icy airplane window
I dare you to stick your head out the window and lick the side of the airplane. Looks cold out there!

Our arrival into San Diego was nothing short of amazing. The initial approach over East County wasn’t the most spectacular I’ve ever had into SAN, but it was at the very last moment right before we reached the tallest buildings of downtown that the magic happened with the angle of the sun reflecting off the rustic textures of this city. Man I love San Diego! It was one certainly of the best arrivals I’ve ever experienced here.

Approach into San Diego
After five long hours in the air, hearing the engines spool down and feeling the plane begin to drop is the sign that we are almost there. It could also be a sign that are about to crash really hard into a rocky mountainside, but I had faith that the pilots had done this before and I wasn’t scared.
Approach into San Diego airport over mountains
That right there is pretty much the opposite of Florida. It’s nice to see mountains again!
Flying over mountains San Diego County
It’s hard to capture in pictures, but some of these peaks are really tall and we were skimming just a couple hundred feet right over top of them as we descended into SAN.
Downtown San Diego sunset
Is this an amazing welcome to San Diego, or what? That’s Point Loma in the distance, then Coronado, and downtown in the foreground.
San Diego airport arrival Alaska airlines
Welcome back to San Diego!
Alaska airlines Oregon beavers plane
If you’re wondering why tuition at Oregon State is so high, this might be the reason. I can’t imagine how much they paid Alaska Airlines to paint one of the airplanes in their team colors! Not that I’m against that sort of thing, because hey – if they let me paint SANspotter logos all over one of thier planes, I’d be down at Home Depot right now buying the paint instead of writing this trip report.
Arrival at the gate Alaska Airlines flight from Orlando
Waiting to deplane. Oh – and props to my seatmate who came prepared with a shirt that matched the mood lighting. Why didn’t I think of that?
End of flight Alaska Airlines first class
As I was standing here waiting to deplane, I overheard the woman behind me say that she was just connecting here in San Diego to another Alaska Airlines flight. Yes, this is a connecting airport for some – and a pretty nice one at that. Short layovers in San Diego are easy!
Ride share pick up San Diego airport terminal one
Getting an Uber at the San Diego Airport is sometimes difficult – especially when arriving at 5 PM on a Friday evening!. This is the Uber and Lyft pick up area, which was so crazy that it tempted me to give up and grab a taxi instead. Thankfully my Uber driver was a pro and he offered to pick me up in the short term parking lot instead. He got a well-deserved tip for that!

So what do you think? Was it worth writing an entirely new post with all new pictures, or do you think I could have got away with simply posting the previous trip report in reverse? The fact that I’m asking this question says a lot about the consistency of the Alaska Airlines first class product.

Nearly everything that I experienced on both segments of this trip happened at nearly the same times with the same high-quality levels of service. Let’s be honest here – that’s something that we don’t see very often on domestic US airlines, so it’s kind of a big deal. It’s been a while since I’ve flown first class on Alaska, but if they keep this up, I may just have to start flying with them a lot more.

Comments (6)

  1. Emiliano Padilla

    May 16, 2018
    • SANspotter

      May 17, 2018
  2. Tom

    January 1, 2019
    • SANspotter

      January 1, 2019
  3. Maureen

    March 13, 2021
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 13, 2021

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