Alaska Airlines 737-800 first class review YVR-SEA

Alaska Airlines 737-800 first class review YVR-SEA

01. Delta Air Lines 717-200 economy class San Diego to Los Angeles
02. Air Canada 787-9 economy class Los Angeles to Toronto
03. Air Transat A330-300 economy class Toronto to Montreal
04. Air Canada A330-300 economy class Montreal to Vancouver
05. Alaska Airlines 737-800 first class Vancouver to Seattle
06. Alaska Airlines A319 first class Seattle to San Diego

Be honest. When’s the last time you were disappointed that your upgrade cleared and that you had to give up your primo seat in economy class? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what happened to me for this short 30-minute flight down to Seattle. Sure, it’s always nice to write reviews about Alaska Airlines first class, but I had other plans and this unexpected upgrade threw me for a loop.

The thing is, I had a perfectly good window seat just ahead of the wing reserved – but my upgrade bumped me up to an aisle seat in row 2. That’s perfectly fine for feeling privileged and special, but it’s no good for making videos. If you didn’t know already, takeoff and landing footage is a key element in all of my trip report videos and my new seat assignment wasn’t going to allow for it.

I thought about challenging it, but I couldn’t come up with a way of standing my ground without sounding like a total idiot. Demanding to be downgraded to economy class would have likely put me on a list of some kind, and when it comes to air travel and “lists” it’s probably wise never to end up on one.

Vancouver, BC (YVR) – Seattle, WA (SEA)
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Aircraft: 737-890
Registration: N531AS
Duration: 27 minutes
Seat: 2C (first class)

Alaska Airlines 737-800 side view new livery
Alaska Airlines 737-800 side view illustration by
YVR-SEA route map
Our route from Vancouver to Seattle this afternoon:YVR MARNR MARNR7. On a side note, who do I need to talk to in order to get a SANSPOTTER waypoint established (preferably somewhere near SAN)? There’s gotta be a way.

The Alaska Airlines first class ground experience at YVR

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until about 1 hour before the departure of this flight that I knew that I was going to be living the high life up in first class. I had a 4 hour layover after my Air Canada A330-300 economy flight from Montreal that morning (which was way overkill since 1 hour layovers are possible in Vancouver), so three of those hours were spent wandering around the main terminal like a lowly economy class passenger.

You know – keeping busy with things like trying to find empty gate areas to relax in. Eating obscenely overpriced airport food. And getting reacquainted with the neon blue carpet here.

SANspotter selfie YVR
Walking into the joint like a boss. Well, it only felt that way – the dudes manning the security cameras were probably laughing their asses off. “He thinks he looks cool hahaha!”
Vancouver airport food
Fun fact: it cost me exactly $18.21 to take this pic. Remind me again why I don’t pack my own lunch more often?
Blue YVR carpet
I never understood what “nauseatingly beautiful” meant until I witnessed the carpet here at YVR for the first time back in September (before my Philippine Airlines flight to JFK). I’m not sure that I like it, but at the same time I think it would look awesome in my studio at home.

Even after all that time wasting, I still had three full hours to kill. Thankfully there is a Priority Pass Lounge here (the Plaza Premium Lounge located adjacent to gate 87), so I decided to duck in there for a bit and fill my belly with even more food. It wasn’t like I was hungry or anything – I just enjoy taking full advantage of my Priority Pass membership whenever I can that’s all.

Yvr plaza premium lounge
Time to crash the Plaza Premium Lounge. Not before buying one of those blouses for 50% off of course!
Plaza Premium Lounge yvr Priority Pass
It’s a pretty nice lounge as far as Priority Pass lounges go. The woman on the far right looks a little bored, but I liked it.
Plaza premium lounge yvr hot food
Free hot food? Yes, please, and thank you.
Plaza premium lounge food yvr
I totally could have scarfed down a full plate of eggs, potatoes, and sausage – but that would have been irresponsible considering I had just consumed an $18 rice bowl not 30 minutes earlier.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this is the official partner lounge for Alaska Airlines first class passengers here at YVR. So that means I would have ended up here anyway if I knew that I had been upgraded earlier.

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Don’t expect much in Alaska Airlines first class between Vancouver and Seattle

A big part of my disappointment for being upgraded was the fact that this was a short 30 minute flight and that there was likely to be no extra service at all. On flights as short as this, it doesn’t really matter if you’re in economy or first class. It really doesn’t.

Of course it’s fun to text friends and family with something like “I’m just about to hop on a first class flight to Seattle, so let’s sync up later” but the reality is that there’s nothing that the flight attendants can do in that short amount of time that will make it an experience to remember.

Alaska Airlines 737-800 N531AS
Thanking my lucky stars that the largest plane in this pic is the one taking me to Seattle. N531AS doing the honors today.
Alaska Airlines boarding gate YVR
The boarding gate was as quiet as a library, and everyone would have heard me if I asked to be downgraded. I would have been lynched for sure!
Alaska Airlines 737-800 boarding door
You know how in scary movies something really horrible happens when the main character sticks his head through the door to see if anyone is home? This kind of felt like that.
Alaska Airlines 737-80 first class cabin
Crinkle-tastic blue vinyl. Welcome to Alaska Airlines 737-800 first class (which just so happens to look exactly like Alaska Airlines 737-900 first class). At least they’re consistent amongst the older 737s, right?
Alaska Airlines first class
Alaska Airlines 737-800 first class seats. Very marshmallow-like compared to the first class seats they are putting in these days, but still quite comfortable. Even more than Alaska Airlines E175 first class!
SANspotter selfie Alaska Airlines first class
That awkward moment when you meet your seat mate for the very first time.
Alaska Airlines first class menu
Welcome to Alaska Airlines first class, where this menu will serve no purpose on this flight other than being a trip report prop.
Alaska Airlines review
The best thing about these old recliner seats? The space between them!
Alaska Airlines 737-800 review
Wishing I was back in my economy class window seat as we roll out for departure. Of course I didn’t say it out loud, but I sure was thinking it.

Despite expecting very little, it ended up being worse than that. The flight attendants remained seated for the entire duration of the flight and never once did they come through the aisles asking if we needed anything.

Alaska Airlines first class menu
More pictures for the trip report with the supplied props. If only this were a longer flight…

The lack of a snack of some kind was surprising, but the fact that they made no effort at all to offer an ounce of “first class” service was surprising. Perhaps I was still bitter about not being able to get any takeoff or landing footage for my video? Maybe. All I do know is that I’m a much happier guy when I’m in a window seat popping miniature pretzels into my pretzel hole.

What are the advantages of Alaska Airlines first class between Vancouver and Seattle then?

I’ve spent a vast majority of this post whining and complaining about first world problems, so it’s safe to assume that most of you are thinking that Alaska Airlines first class is worthless on short segments such as this. And you’d be right for the most part.

However, there are a few reasons why it’s still worth it. First, being towards the front of the plane (without having to fight for overhead bin space) is a blessing when you’ve got a tight connection to make upon arrival. Having to wait for everyone else to deplane as you watch the minutes tick away is stressful as heck when you’ve got a plane to catch! This isn’t a problem if you’re seated in one of the first three rows.

Feet on bulkhead wall
Sit back and relax, because being in the first three rows means you’ll be first off the plane. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your manners will improve though. #passengershaming

Second, a bigger seat is always better – no matter how long the flight is. I used to be one of those people who didn’t care about seat size, but after injuring my back right before my flight to San Francisco on Icelandair, having the extra room to get comfortable (and look like an old man doing it) is much appreciated.

Alaska Airlines first class seating
They may be big and ugly, but bigger seats are a godsend when you’re old and sore like me!

Last but not least, it’s fun to feel important as the economy class passengers sulk by on the way back to their seats in the bowels of the plane. Don’t pretend you disagree. You know you like it!


Up until this point I’ve never had anything bad to about this airline. And to be fair, I didn’t think that this quick little jaunt down to Seattle was all that bad actually. The crew was extremely friendly, the plane was clean, and we arrived on time. That’s all that matters anyway.

But that’s not to say that I don’t think they could have done a better job this time. Alaska Airlines first class (from what I’ve heard and experienced) is getting better and better every year, but the lack of service on this particular flight leads me to believe that they’ve still got a few kinks in the system that need to be worked out. The least they could have done was throw a few bags of pretzels at us.

Comments (6)

  1. James B.

    January 13, 2019
    • SANspotter

      January 13, 2019
  2. Albert

    January 27, 2019
  3. Albert

    April 8, 2020
    • SANspotter

      April 11, 2020
  4. Faras

    July 26, 2023

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