It’s here! The Boeing 737 MAX has officially entered the Alaska Airlines fleet. Personally, I was very much looking forward to it. I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to flying on it, but I was very much looking forward to seeing what the public reaction to it would be. More specifically, would people be avoiding the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX like the plague?
Truth be told, I think the general public has pretty much forgotten about the woes of the MAX series of aircraft. I certainly have. I mean, there’s no other way that I would have stepped foot on this aircraft just 3 short days after entering service if I had any hangups about it. I’m crazy like that. Or maybe just stupid.
San Diego, CA (SAN) – Seattle, WA (SEA)
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Aircraft: 737-9 MAX
Duration: 2 hours 47 minutes
Seat: 4F (First Class)
Table of Contents
My Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 first class review video
I’ve made several videos about Alaska Airlines first class in the past (which you can watch here and here), but this one was a little different.
Not only was I trying to show off what the 737 MAX experience was like with Alaska Airlines, I was also trying to put together an objective review on their newest first class product.
I feel terrible for representing my hometown of San Diego in the not-so-nicest of ways. My sincerest apologies.
Arrival at the airport
Despite the doom and gloom overhead, I was quite excited to be flying on Alaska Airlines’ newest airplane today. It was something that I had been looking forward to for quite some time!
The boarding process for flight number 539 to Seattle
Those of you who remember how nervous I was before trying out United 737 MAX 9 Economy Plus a few weeks ago will be happy to know that I was as cool as a cucumber today. I almost (just barely) looked like an experienced traveler.
My first impressions of the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 first class cabin
After years and years of being punished with the old Alaska Airlines first class cabins, it was a refreshing sight to see their latest offering. Although it was a stark contrast to the first class seats that I had grown to be familiar with on this quirky little airline from the north, they look very similar to what you’ll find in American Airlines 737-800 first class. At least they’re making progress.
Yeah, this is pretty much exactly what I remember my Hawaiian Airlines A321 first class experience being like. Except for the seat color…and the floral shirts…and the tropical music…and the Mai Tais…
Lol, no, this doesn’t suck. At least not as much as you think that I think it does. Or something like that. I actually liked this quite a bit.
I actually find these first class seats to be quite stylish. And before you blast me for saying such a nice thing about such a simple seat, I invite you read my Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 economy review. Those simple seats will make these first class seats look like thrones fit for a King.
Yup – as soon as we get a little wind and rain here in San Diego, they flip the airport around and everything flows to the east. It’s a very rare occurrence, and this video shows you exactly what that’s like:
The most important thing to know about the onboard entertainment in Alaska Airlines first class is that you need to bring your own devices. There are no video screens in the seats. And if you don’t have a phone, tablet, or laptop…you’re out of luck (and you better hope that your seatmate is wildly entertaining).
Alaska Airlines has gotten much better with food over the past two years. The menu for this flight (still being somewhat limited due to Covid restrictions) consisted of two options: a fruit and cheese platter or a ham and cheese croissant sandwich. I think you know what I ended up with.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find the 737 MAX to be quieter than all other variants of the 737. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s any more comfortable, but less noisy is always good.
The arrival into Seattle
Once I got past the irony of leaving a rainy San Diego and arriving into a bright and sunny Seattle, I pressed my nose to the window and enjoyed the sights (and sounds) all the way in.
What I do know is that I’m very impressed with how Alaska Airlines has configured the first class cabin on their 737 MAX 9. It’s spacious, bright, and combined with the typically great Alaska Airlines cabin crews, extremely competitive against what the other US airlines are offering. I just wish they would offer a premium lie-flat business class product like JetBlue Mint Suites.
Should you avoid the Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX?
No – if only to experience what the latest and greatest Alaska Airlines first class experience is all about. The food won’t be any better, nor will the cabin crews. The seats, however, are far better than what a lot of the older Alaska Airlines 737s still have.
The 737 MAX is a glimpse into the not-so-distant future of Alaska Airlines. And based on what I have seen (and felt), I’m quite looking forward to it.
Pros and cons of Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX first class
Long story short, all you need to know is that the first class seats on (in?) the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX series of aircraft are the same seats that you can find in Hawaiian Airlines A321 first class. It’s basically the same experience – without the floral shirts, tropical food, and Mai Tai’s of course.
The seats are really good for flights under three hours. They are highly configurable, there are power outlets, as well as storage bins (and pockets) to cram your things into.
There’s enough leg room to allow the window seat passenger to get up and access the aisle without requiring the aisle seat passenger to stand up. It won’t be particularly graceful, but it is possible.
Although this isn’t something specific to the MAX, I’ll say it anyway: the Alaska Airlines cabin crews are typically the friendliest in the United States. I don’t know what Alaska Airlines feeds these people, but whatever it is seems to be making them extremely friendly and pleasant to deal with.
There are no video screens in the seats (which is a big deal when comparing Alaska Airlines vs Delta – an airline which features video screens at every seat on every flight). If video entertainment is what you’re looking for, it is available – but it comes in the form of a complementary streaming service to your own devices.
Although the seats are great for flights under three hours, they may not be all that great for flights longer than that. They’re a little hard.