Alaska Airlines E175 first class review (decent, but not great)

Alaska Airlines E175 first class review (decent, but not great)

I feel like the most responsible way to start this Alaska Airlines E175 first class review is to advise you to manage your expectations.

Yes, Alaska Airlines first class is typically very good. However, we’re talking about a small regional jet here. The Embraer 175 isn’t exactly spacious, so it’s not going to be the typical Alaska first class experience.

But wait! Before you click off this review, you at least need to wait until after you see pics of the Charles M. Schulz Airport in Santa Rosa California. It’s the coolest rinky-dingiest airport I’ve ever seen.

AS3440
Santa Rosa, CA (STS) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Aircraft: Embraer 175
Registration: N198SY
Duration: 1 hour 42 minutes
Seat: 4A (first class)

Alaska Airlines Embraer 175 side view
Alaska Airlines Embraer 175 side view illustration by Norebbo.com
as3440 flight track
Our route from Santa Rosa to San Diego this evening as AS3440.

A full review of Alaska Airlines E175 first class from Santa Rosa to San Diego

After a flight up from Las Vegas on Avelo Airlines, I needed to find a way to get home to San Diego. Actually, I knew how I was going to do it all along.

The only reason why I chose to fly to Santa Rosa was because Alaska Airlines has multiple daily flights between Santa Rosa and San Diego (in both directions). And as a matter of fact, the timing was nearly perfect for my particular needs.

Arrival at the Charles M. Schulz in Airport in Santa Rosa, CA

If you know me, you know that I like to show up at the airport early. I’m talking hours early. However, if you read my Avelo Airlines review, you’ll know that I was surprised at how small the Santa Rosa Airport is. Therefore, showing up really early would’ve been a complete waste of time.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have enough time to look around. The Santa Rosa Airport (STS) is amazing. Check this out:

SANspotter selfie Santa Rosa airport
I know it may not look like much, but welcome to what I consider to be the most unique airport I’ve been to in a good long while.
Airlines that serve STS
Looks like they’re just two airlines (and two rental car agencies) away from being at max capacity. A golden opportunity for Emirates and Hertz, perhaps?
Santa Rosa airport main entrance
The main entrance. You can’t tell me that this ain’t cool!
Alaska Airlines check in Santa Rosa airport
Immediately after walking through the main entrance, you’ll find the Alaska Airlines check in counter. And absolutely zero evidence of any other airline that serves this airport.
Santa Rosa airport main terminal building
Looking back towards the main entrance. 404 United, American, and Avelo not found.
Alaska airlines check in STS airport
If I had to guess, my suspicion is that this is a shared check in desk (one that all the airlines use). I get heartburn just thinking about how to coordinate flight schedules in and out of this place with a shared check in desk.
STS airport terminal hallway
After checking in, follow the signs to the departure gate.
Santa Rosa airport temporary terminal building
Just when you thought I didn’t have to go outside again…I had to go outside again. The entrance to the departure gate (a temporary building I might add) was not yet open when I arrived.
SANspotter red Nike shoes
Waiting. And thinking maybe I’m too old to be wearing shoes this loud.
Santa Rosa airport terminal gate
There we go! After a brief security check, I’ve reached the main terminal building (which looks temporary AF – and I kinda like it).
Santa Rosa airport gates
The first evidence of the existence of other airlines at this airport! It’s hard to see in this pic, but each airline has their own gate door (along the back wall). 

The boarding process for Alaska Airlines flight number 3440 to San Diego

Because we weren’t allowed in the gate area until 10 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin, everything seemed to happen so fast. I had just sat down in the gate area before they called for first class passengers to board – which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a bad way to travel.

Alaska airlines mobile boarding pass STS airport
Is it just me, or is it trippy as heck to see a Oneworld logo on my Alaska Airlines boarding pass? I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to that.
Embraer 175 Santa Rosa airport
One of the best things about STS is that there are no jet bridges. From this perspective, the Embraer 175 I’m about to board almost looks like a real airplane. 
Alaska Airlines E175 boarding door
I wonder if I’d be enjoying this as much if it was pouring rain in the middle of February?
Alaska Airlines E175 close up
You’re darn right I would! Yeah, I would probably be blurting out expletives, but can almost guarantee I’d still be smiling.

My first impressions of Alaska Airlines Embraer 175 first class

Look. I’m going to tell you right off the bat that Alaska Airlines E175 first class is not going to make my best domestic first class list. As a matter fact, it’s nearly identical to American Airlines E75 first class. And United Airlines E175 first class. Heck – even Delta E170 first class. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Alaska Airlines e175 first class cabin
“Look Marsha! If you press this button, they’ll bring you champagne and caviar!”
Alaska Airlines e175 first class seat
The Alaska Airlines E175 first class seat. This is 4A (the one I always choose on this aircraft type).
Alaska Airlines embraer 175 first class seat leg room
Leg room is decent – and yes, a full sized backpack will fit under the seat in front of you.
Alaska Airlines embraer 175 first class interior
Yes, this is nice, but it’s not anywhere near as nice as American Airlines 787-9 business class nice (duh). Nice overuse of the word nice, eh?
SANspotter selfie Alaska airlines embraer 175 first class review
We’re all still waiting on the champagne and caviar.
Embraer 175 emergency lighting
There’s something glowing under my seat…
Alaska E175 first class power outlets
Turns out it’s an electrical outlet with a bright green LED light on it. Or…is it a bright green LED light with an electrical outlet on it? It was hard to tell really.
Alaska airlines boxed water
Boxed water. Why did it take us so long to think of this??
Alaska Airlines Embraer 175 safety card
You thought I was going to forget to look at the safety card, didn’t you?

What’s the best first class seat on an Alaska E175?

That’s easy. The best first class seat on the Alaska Airlines E175 is seat 4A. It’s the same first class seat that I always choose on any E175 (or E170).

SANspotter Alaska E195 first class
Maxin’ and relaxin’ here in seat 4A. #early90shiphopreference

All of the “A” seats (on the left-hand side of the aircraft) are single seats. You won’t have a seatmate, and in my opinion that’s what makes it so good. 

Also, if you recall, I talked about how the last row is always the best place for observing what’s going on in my guide on how to spot an Air Marshal. It’s a good seat for people watching.

Alaska Embraer 175 first class cabin
An added bonus of sitting by yourself on the “A” side is that you won’t have to sit next to someone who has the overhead light on for the entire flight.

Finally, I would avoid rows 1 or 2 simply because they are too close to the front galley. The noise and light could be annoying on longer flights.

The departure out of Santa Rosa

Being that it was pitch black outside as we pushed off the gate, there really wasn’t much to see once we rolled away from the terminal building. I tried my best though, and here are some pics of the action:

Alaska e175 wing view
Pushing off the gate. On time no less!
Alaska airlines e175 taxi at STS airport
STS is a really small airport, so it won’t take long to reach the runway.
Alaska airlines e175 takeoff from STS
Feel free to make airplane noise sound effects as you’re looking at these pics if it’ll help make this part of the review more interesting. I won’t judge you. 

Do they serve food and drinks in Alaska Airlines E175 first class?

With just one flight attendant serving the entire cabin, service in first class on the Alaska E175 is always going to be a little slow. And that’s OK, because there really isn’t much service to speak of.

Yes, they do serve food in Alaska E175 first class. It’s not much, but it does qualify as nourishment.

Alaska airlines first class drinks
Boxed water number two! Yes, they serve drinks other than water, but I was too amused by this the first time not to do it again.
SANspotter drinking boxed water Alaska Airlines
On a more serious note, I’m all for reducing plastic consumption however possible. Boxed water is definitely a step in the right direction.
Alaska airlines e175 first class snack
Can’t say that I was a little bummed that I didn’t get the option of a fruit and cheese platter (like you saw in my Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 review). Oh well. This’ll do.
SANspotter eating Alaska Airlines e175 first class food
No, pretending that I tasted cheese with each bite didn’t work.
Alaska Airlines E175 first class tray table
I forgot to show you the tray table. Sorry. I guess I was distracted by the lack of cheese…

How comfortable are the Alaska E175 first class seats on longer flights?

Honestly, they’re just as comfortable as any other Embraer 175 first class seat that I’ve ever sat in – which is no surprise considering that the Alaska E175 is configured exactly the same way as most of the American, United, and Delta E175’s are.

This is because they are all operated by Skywest Airlines, a regional airline which contracts out their aircraft (and crews) to the major airlines. It’s all the same.

Alaska Airlines E175 First Class single seat
As far as regional jets go, this isn’t a bad first class seat.
Alaska Airlines E175 First Class double seats
Whether or not “first class” is the proper name for it is debatable, but at least it’s comfortable.
Alaska E175 first class cabin at night
For anyone who feels the urge to complain about how lame this is (the E175, not this review) it’s important to remember what regional air travel used to be like here in the US. We’ve come a long way!

The arrival into San Diego

With a travel time of just 1 hour and 42 minute (from gate to gate), there really wasn’t all that much time to stretch out and relax. I hadn’t even finished my snack before the captain made the his initial descent announcement. Here’s what that looked like:

Embraer 175 windows
As soon as I see anything I’ll let you know…
Runway 9 landing San Diego airport
There wasn’t much to see on the way in since we landed on runway 9 tonight (which is a west to east approach, meaning we came in over the ocean).
Landing runway 9 SAN
Welcome to San Diego!
Alaska e175 taxi SAN airport
Feel free to make fun airplane noises again as we backtrack down the runway over to Terminal 2…
Taxi to gate San Diego airport at night
Even if you didn’t make any noises, I definitely was as I was posting these pics.
Alaska e175 San Diego airport no jet bridge
Interesting! Looks like we’re not going to be using a jet bridge tonight.
Alaska e175 first class passengers
Also interesting is the fact that nobody stood up once the seatbelt sign was turned off. Maybe I’m not alone in thinking that these Alaska E175 first class seats are actually pretty good?
Alaska airlines embraer 175 first class aisle
Whatever. I’m just excited about being able to walk out on the ramp here at SAN for the first time in my life.
No jet bridge San Diego airport
So excited that I couldn’t even hold the camera straight.
Alaska Airlines e175 San Diego airport
Seems as if I was too excited to make sure the focus was set as well.
View from ramp San Diego airport
Definitely a perspective of the San Diego airport that I’ve never seen before!
Walking into terminal 2 from ramp San Diego airport
I’m just going to end it here before the TSA gets suspicious of all the pics I’m taking. A full body cavity search would not be a good way to wrap up this review methinks…

Pros and cons of Alaska Airlines E175 first class

As I’ve already mentioned, this is essentially the same first class seat (and cabin service) that you would get on a United, American, and Delta Embraer 175. However, Alaska Airlines does put it own little signature spin on things. Some of it is good, some of it is not:

Pros

  • Although this isn’t specific to Alaska Airlines, I need to reiterate that the single seats on the “A” side of the aircraft are some of the best domestic first class seats in the US. If you hate rubbing elbows with complete strangers, these are the seats for you.
  • You’ll get more personalized service from the cabin crew thanks to the fewer number of other first class passengers.
  • As you might expect, the boarding and deplaning process is extremely fast thanks to the small size of the aircraft.
  • However, even though the aircraft is so small, this is still a legitimately-sized domestic first class seat. It’s very roomy considering the size of the aircraft.

Cons

  • Even though I’ve said multiple times that I prefer seat 4A, it’s important to know that the row directly behind (row 5) is two seats wide. This means of the person sitting in seat 5B will be able to look over your shoulder and see whatever it is you’re doing on your phone (or laptop). Scroll carefully!
  • As much as they try to make it feel like regular Alaska Airlines first class, it still feels like a “cheap / regional jet” first class experience. There’s only so much they can do with slightly smaller seats and limited service.

Comments (2)

  1. D Law

    January 8, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      January 8, 2022

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