Alaska Airlines is the seventh largest major carrier in the United States, in terms of passenger traffic. The company offered its service as Alaska Airlines for the first time in 1944, but the airline has its origins in McGee Airways, a company that was formed in 1932. Even though Alaska Airlines suggests that they only service the northernmost destination in the United States, Alaska Airways has over 100 destinations in the 48 contiguous states, Canada, Mexico, and four of the Hawaiian Islands. In fact, they have its largest hub at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Alaska Airlines also does well with customer satisfaction. For the seventh year in the row, JD Power and Associates ranked Alaska Airlines as the highest in customer satisfaction in 2014. While Alaska Airlines maintains independence from the major airline alliances, it does have codeshare agreements with some of the major airlines, including Delta and British Airways.
- Incentive program
- Food and beverage
- On-time percentage
First of all, we really liked Club 49, the incentive program for customers who were flying to and from Alaska. Every year, Club 49 members get a certificate for 30% off a one-way flight to or from Alaska. You also get two free checked bags with Alaska Airlines, as well as exclusive deals. We reviewed other major carriers, such as Hawaiian Airlines, and couldn't find a similar rewards program.
We found that the Gogo Internet service with Alaska Airlines was affordable. A similar carrier that we reviewed, Hawaiian Airlines, did not have Wi-Fi in the bulk of its planes as of this time.
We found that prices were a little high across the board with a few exceptions. A one-way ticket from Seattle to Las Vegas cost $99. Alaska Air also expedites the baggage claim process. If your luggage is not at the claim within 20 minutes, you can get a $25 voucher to use towards your next ticket.
We also felt like Alaska Airlines did a good job of providing affordable food and beverages to its coach customers. Most of the meals that we saw for coach clients were priced from $6 to $7, which is slightly cheaper than some of the other carriers we reviewed. However, we did find that Hawaiian Airlines offers free meals for flights that are longer than six hours, something that Alaska does not have. Starbucks Coffee is also available on Alaska Airlines as part of their complimentary beverage service.
We had some questions during our phone-in about the in-flight tablet rental. Initially we weren't sure if movies cost extra, but through our conversation we found out they were included with the rental. We liked how the R-rated movies were edited for the presence of younger customers.
According to Flightstats.com, Alaska Airlines flights are on-time roughly 86%. This is above average when compared to select other top airlines.
- Oversized customers clause
- Rewards plan
We took some offense to the "oversized customers" clause of Alaska Airlines' seating policy. We felt like some overweight or larger customers may be turned off by the tone of language on the part of their website. It also emphasized that Alaska Airlines has the right to re-seat a client or boot them from a flight if they hadn't booked a second seat. Delta made it somewhat easier for customers and even suggested that a first class seat might be better for a "larger" customer. We would like to see Alaska Airlines be a little bit more sensitive to the needs of its larger customers and make it easier for them to purchase a second seat while reminding them that they are still valued customers.
We did have some concerns with the two-year activity clause on the mileage reward plan. One customer did have a complaint about the inactivity on their account leading to its deactivation.
We also had some concerns with the lack of wide-body planes. The Boeing 737, while a comfortable plane, lacks the comfort of larger Airbuses and larger Boeing aircraft, such as the 767.
The Bottom Line
We recommend Alaska Airlines wholeheartedly. We also liked the fact that while their planes didn't have TVs on each seat, they made it possible for customers to access great movies and other options via an affordable tablet. Another great feature of this company was that they want customers to get their baggage quickly at the claim, offering a $25 voucher if the bags are not off the plane within 20 minutes.