Last month I had to fly to San Jose for a family affair.After researching several options I booked an Alaska Airlines flight from Burbank Hollywood airport to San Jose California. Despite a two delay, I have to say the airline still managed to exceed my expectations.
I debated whether I should fly into San Jose proper or venture further to San Francisco or Oakland.
Depending on the dates this route can cost anywhere from 49$ to 150$. Since my date wasn’t flexible- I had to fly out last minute on New Year’s Day my chance of finding a cheap flight wasn’t good.
Options for travelers
After booking, travelers have the choice to go to their site and customize their flight experience by upgrading their seats or even pre-order their food on the flight.
On occasion, I do ask for special assistance when my son with autism flies with me. I discovered during my research Alaska air is quite autism-friendly. But this time I didn’t ask for anything since I flew solo.
At the airport
I arrived at the airport two hours before the flight, which turned out to be on the early side. Check-in at the airport was a breeze. In fact, there was no one in line when I arrived. I chalked it to the fact that not that many people wanted to fly on New Year’s Day.
Though my ticket did say TSA pre, the airport didn’t have that type of line opened that day, so I had to use the regular one. The main annoyance with that was that I did have to take out my laptop and tablet out for inspection. Apart from that, everything went smoothly and quickly.
Since Burbank is a small airport, it doesn’t offer any lounges, so travelers have limited choices when it comes to food and entertainment. I managed to grab a specialty coffee and a wrap for a whopping 20(!) bucks.
The real trouble started an hour before departure. Flight 3348 was delayed. Even worse was the fact that the staff at the gate didn’t know details as to what had happened and when we would get to board. It was a good thing I had the electronic gadgets that kept me busy since the airport doesn’t have shops or entertainment areas to speak of.
To the airline’s credit, they were super responsive when I tweeted about it and responded in record time. Literally, a person responded within ten minutes, which I thought was commendable. Our flight did finally depart by midday two hours later than we were scheduled.
Of course, it would have been delightful to fly in one of their Disneyland themed aircraft but those are designated for their long-haul flights.
I flew in an Embraer 175 that the airline uses for its short and mid-range flights. The aircraft features 75 seats in total in two rows of two seats, so everyone gets a window or aisle. Moreover, the windows on the plane are oversized which makes it even more fun for those who want to watch the takeoff and landing.
I didn’t want to spring for a premium seat which was 15$ extra though it does comes with pre-boarding, four inches of legroom and free drinks. Instead, I opted to sit in 14B, which was in the main cabin.
The leather seat was very comfortable with plenty of leg space. Furthermore, the overhead bin was large enough to accommodate a trolley carry on. I placed my large handbag under my seat, and it too fit perfectly.
Since I was an Alaska airlines newbie, I didn’t quite know what to expect. So I was thrilled to find out they offer free texting through the ‘gogoinflight’ network and movies even on short flights. There’s Wi-Fi for purchase on different plans including a monthly one for frequent fliers. T mobile customers get an hour free on each flight.
Food and drink choices
I like the fact the airline offers Tom Douglas, an iconic Seattle chef, inspired meals. I couldn’t order one since my flight was shorter than three hours. Moreover, the company offers free coffee and sodas as well as beer, wine, and liquor for purchase.
Based on my previous experiences on short-haul flights, my expectations were very low, so I was thrilled to get a free box of goodies that included a fig bar, organic fruity bears, and some almonds.
Service is where this company managed to blow me away!
The service was impeccable.
One crew member helped me carry my suitcase onto the plane and put it in the overhead bin. I didn’t even have to ask! Then another crew member came incredibly quickly when I pressed the buzzer to get a glass of water.
Oh, and did I mention everyone was smiling? I honestly thought I landed in the twilight zone.
The company bounce back
My daughter alerted me to the fact Alaska airlines promises travelers compensation if and when their flight is delayed over two hours. So naturally, I made a mental note to deal with it once I got back home in L.A.
Much to my surprise, there was no need!
Minutes after landing in San Jose I got an email with an apology and a 75$ coupon to use on a future flight. That meant that I could fly back home to LA for free.
What started as a rocky flight turned out to be one of the best experiences. I chalk that to sound service and innovative marketing.
Did it convince me to fly with them again? You bet!