Flight Review: Alaska Airlines (737-800) Premium Economy – Bellingham to Maui

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Flight Review: Alaska Airlines (737-800) Premium Economy – Bellingham to Maui

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Introduction

I’m not a huge fan of flying economy, but when British Airways offers roundtrip tickets to Hawaii from the west coast for only 25,000 Avios roundtrip, I’m willing to make a compromise. Furthermore, American Express Membership Rewards just offered a 25% transfer bonus on British Airways Executive Club transfers, meaning roundtrip tickets to Hawaii from the west coast could be had for 20,000 Membership Reward Points per ticket, roundtrip. Currently American Express is offering 40,000 Membership Reward points on their Business Gold Rewards Card after spending $5,000 in the first three months, which equates to two roundtrip tickets to Hawaii from the west coast with minimal taxes and fees. Alaska Airlines Premium Economy can be purchased for a small fee (route dependent – $75USD for this flight) on reward tickets which allows priority boarding, complimentary cocktails, and extra legroom, which can be well worth the value for a longer flight.

Bellingham To Maui For 20,000 Membership Reward Points Roundtrip

Boeing 737 At Bellingham Airport

We arrived at the airport 2 hours prior to departure at Bellingham International, which proved to be excessive. We ended up staying in the gate area for approximately 90 minutes with not much to do. Bellingham doesn’t offer any sort of lounge access, though they do have a couple of places to get food. I was surprised at how busy the airport was, though there were a few flights departing around the same time to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Hawaii.

Bellingham Airport Gate Area

Bellingham Airport Gate Area

Boarding began right on time at 8:30am at the A gate, starting with families travelling with young children (there were a lot) and first class passengers. Shortly after that premium economy passengers were invited to board.

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Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Flight Details

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Alaska Airlines 813
Bellingham (BLI) – Kahului (OGG)
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Depart: 9:14am
Arrive: 1:10pm
Duration: 5hr56min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 8F (Premium Economy)

Bellingham airport is fun for any avgeek, since you get to walk out to every flight (no jet bridges) and get some great views of your plane prior to departure.

Boarding At Bellingham Airport

Boarding At Bellingham Airport

We weren’t greeted by anyone at the door, which felt strange, but easily found our way to row 8 where we were seated. Premium economy has the same seats as the rest of the main cabin, but with a few extra inches of legroom. According to SeatGuru, each premium economy seat has 35 inches of pitch and 17 inches of width, compared to only 31 inches in regular economy. While I wouldn’t pay to upgrade on a short flight, 4 extra inches of legroom on a 6-hour flight made a big difference.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Seat Map

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Seat Map

I was seated in 8F, a window seat in the middle of premium economy. I had selected the aisle and window seat strategically hoping nobody else would pay to upgrade to a premium middle seat, but during check-in someone else in our group received a complimentary upgrade for operational reasons, which was better than sitting next to a stranger for 6 hours.

Premium Economy - Seat 8F

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy – Seat 8F

Same Old Economy Width...

Same Old Economy Width…

Ended Up Being A Full Flight To Maui

Ended Up Being A Full Flight To Maui

We boarded quite quickly for a full flight and pushed back just a few minutes later than scheduled (something to do with a baby seat not fitting properly). There were no safety videos, as this 737 had no in-flight entertainment options, but rather ‘bring your own device’ streaming which is becoming the norm for a lot of carriers.

Bring Your Own Device Entertainment Streaming

Bring Your Own Device Entertainment Streaming

Legroom was very decent, and well worth the upgrade price in my opinion. While there were no seat back entertainment screens, each seat did have personal power.

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Legroom

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Legroom

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Seat Power And Storage

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Seat Power And Storage

I generally love the plane spotting at airports, but Bellingham was a bit… disappointing. I only saw an old Allegiant bird en-route to Las Vegas.

Bellingham Plane Spotting

Bellingham Plane Spotting

Bellingham Airport

Bellingham Airport

The taxi was super quick (as to be expected at a small airport) and the climb out of Bellingham was very smooth. The seatbelt sign stayed on until we reached cruising altitude, which seemed to take about 30 minutes.

Climb Out Of Bellingham

Climb Out Of Bellingham

Cruising Altitude Views At 35,000 Feet

Cruising Altitude Views At 35,000 Feet

I had read mixed reports of the food offerings in Alaska Airlines premium economy, with some saying snack boxes were included. I suspected on a 6 hour flight we would be given more than peanuts, but what was offered wasn’t much better…

Premium Economy Complimentary Snacks

Premium Economy Complimentary Snacks

The ‘Lite Bites’ snack box consisted of some almonds, a fig cookie and some gummy bears. They were all tasty, but I didn’t find this above and beyond what would normally be offered on an economy flight…

Lite Bites Snack Box

Lite Bites Snack Box

Alaska Airlines premium economy seating does include complimentary alcohol, and the crew offered drink service three times on this 6 hour flight. There was also a variety of snack boxes and one hot breakfast item available for purchase.

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Menu

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Menu

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Menu

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Menu

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Beverage Menu

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Beverage Menu

I opted for a Mediterranean Tapas snack box, which included olives, hummus, crackers, dried apricots, almonds and a piece of chocolate. While not the best snack I’ve ever had, I thought the value was decent. I enjoyed the tapas with a complimentary mini-bottle of sparkling wine.

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Snack Box

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Snack Box

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Snack Box

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Snack Box

I have to admit I was really underwhelmed with the crew on this flight. Normally Alaska Airlines has fantastic cabin attendants, but this flight was a dud. I tried on multiple occasions to get a smile or start a conversation, but just couldn’t engage. Towards the end of the flight they were downright rude, telling a disabled first class passenger she needed to return to her seat (she was visiting her granddaughter in premium economy).

Also, the bathrooms were filthy the entire flight. Admittedly I don’t fly in economy very often, but really? There were two empty rolls of toilet paper on the counter right after departure…

Alaska Airlines Economy Lavatory

Alaska Airlines Economy Lavatory

Alaska Airlines Economy Lavatory

Alaska Airlines Economy Lavatory

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At least the views were good, and the cabin crew didn’t demand the window shades be closed for the entire flight…

Views Over The Pacific

Views Over The Pacific

We started our descent into Maui about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, but unfortunately the Hawaii agriculture cards were not loaded at Bellingham, so we were informed to stay seated after landing and someone would come on and distribute the declaration papers.

Views Approaching Maui

Views Approaching Maui

We touched down 15 minutes ahead of schedule and made our short taxi to the gate, where the ‘Big 3’ US carriers were parked.

The 'Big 3'

The ‘Big 3’ US Carriers At OGG

Thankfully it didn’t take too long for the paperwork to be distributed, and within a few minutes we were in the terminal. On the positive side, the delay in filling out the paperwork meant our bags were already out when we got to the baggage claim!

Our Boeing 737 At Maui Airport

Our Boeing 737 At Maui Airport

Alaska Airlines Premium Economy Bottom Line

To be honest, I have mixed feeling about Alaska Airlines premium economy. On one hand, I have no regrets paying for the extra legroom, especially considering the flying time to Hawaii, but on the other hand, I didn’t find anything else especially premium about the product. Why not just call it extra legroom seating, since that’s basically all you’re getting (in addition to some free drinks I guess).

While I wouldn’t consider paying for this product on a short flight, the four extra inches made a big difference on the 6 hour hop across the pacific, and the few cocktails didn’t hurt either. I think a different crew would have left a better impression, and I’m looking forward to the return flight to see how it compares!

Have you flown Alaska Airlines Premium Economy? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

 

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American Express Platinum Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

  • Get a $200 travel credit & airport lounge access worldwide.
  • $699 annual fee.

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About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style. Want to learn how you can travel the world on points, like Tyler? Sign up for an American Express Platinum card and get 50,000 bonus points and a $200 travel credit towards your next dream vacation. (Offer subject to approval and when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months).

2 Comments

  1. Steve February 15, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    How did you get premium economy for 25,000 Avios instead of regular economy for 25,000 Avios?

    • Tyler Weatherup February 15, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Hey Steve,

      We were able to purchase the economy plus seating when selecting our seats on the Alaska website after booking. I believe the cost at the time was 75USD per seat per direction, though I think it has increased since then on Hawaii flights from Washington. Also, I’ve heard that Alaska is now restricting this advance purchase option on Avios redemptions until 24 hours prior to departure. Only bookings made directly with Alaska will be eligible for the advance (paid) upgrade option.

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