My gate at FLL gave wonderful views of my Alaska Airbus A321…. not!
“What the heck is a diagcon look of an Alaska Airways A321 first-class product?” Don’t fear, I’ll get to that.
I had no expectation that I used to be going to write down this evaluation. I just lately flew all the way down to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to hang out with Embraer they usually have been good sufficient to place me in first-class. Once I was making ready for my flight residence (I flew on Delta to FLL), I noticed it was on an Alaska Airways Airbus A321. Candy. I knew that I’d both be flying on certainly one of Virgin America’s previous birds with their first-class product, or Alaska’s new product — win/win. I did my factor and seemed up the registration quantity, discovered the supply date of the plane, and decided that I used to be going to be making an attempt out the brand new product. Heck yea.
The excellent news and dangerous information is I simply had a very lengthy day, acquired little or no sleep beforehand, and had simply flown throughout the nation the day earlier than. That’s dangerous since I wasn’t actually ready to do that evaluation, however good since what higher time to check out a product if you aren’t feeling 100%?
Fairly cool show of the brand new Alaska Airways first-class seat that I seen throughout my earlier media journey with them
Beforehand, I had the prospect to fly all the way down to SFO to preview Alaska Airlines’ new first class product on their Airbus A321s. I used to be solely in a position to sit down in a first-class seats for a brief period of time, and clearly media flights like that don’t provide you with an actual expertise of how the product compares. Know what does? A six-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Seattle (SEA), that’s what! And looky there, I only recently did flew that diagcon flight.
Transcons are like LAX to NYC, vs Diagcon being SEA to MIA – Picture: GCMap.com
Okay… What’s a Diagcon Flight?
So let’s discuss this made up phrase/definition I began utilizing some time again: diagcon. You most likely find out about transcon flights proper? Nicely, technically a diagcon is a transcon flight, nevertheless it’s longer, goes diagonally throughout the U.S., and I don’t like them a lot. I principally use the time period to explain my Seattle to Florida flights.
Over a three-year interval, I discovered myself doing too many continuous diagcons (for AirlineReporter, my dad lives there, different odds and ends, and so forth.) and I used to be getting sick and bored with doing them in single-aisle plane. Positive, the SEA-MIA flight may solely be 30 min longer than a LAX-JFK flight (or SEA-JFK), however that additional 60 min (roundtrip) at the back of a 737 made me discover the purpose the place I truly wasn’t wanting ahead to the subsequent diagcon flight (I wasn’t certain if I had that restrict). So, for me, the definition isn’t just about flying diagonally, but in addition getting form of uninterested in the routing / (lack of) plane selections.
So, how is that this related to the story? Good query, and thanks for getting me again on monitor. We are able to conclude that I’m not an enormous fan of flying diagcons, and I used to be drained, so this actually was the very best combo to place this product to the check. Let’s proceed…
Candy lighting for some candy seats – Photograph: Alaska Airways
Alaska Airbus A321 First Class Evaluation Time!
Being primarily based in Seattle, I fly Alaska fairly a bit. It’s the airline the place I maintain my miles, though I’ve by no means held standing (I do know, loopy proper?). The overwhelming majority of my Alaska flight experiences is at the back of the aircraft… in economic system. Though it’s at all times good after I’ve had the prospect to fly first-class on Alaska, I’ve to say that the previous laborious product isn’t tremendous particular. You may have the broader seat, with the 2-2 structure, and a very good meal, however the tight seat pitch at all times shocked me. Until I acquired an excellent duper improve deal (I don’t suppose that’s their official identify), then I didn’t see the worth in spending the additional cash to maneuver as much as first-class. I used to be questioning if this new product may change my thoughts. I broke it down the professionals and cons in easy-to-read bullet factors:
What I preferred in regards to the new Alaska first-class
The footrest. I’ve at all times considered these as form of nugatory and if something, they take away my legroom. Nevertheless, I discovered myself utilizing it a number of instances and really liking it — so much. That stated, I discovered that when the passenger in entrance of me reclined their seat (how dare they), then my footrest stopped working. Bummer. I observe up with Alaska after my flight they usually confirmed that my footrest will need to have been defective and after giving them the aircraft’s reg quantity, they have been going to repair it.
The tray desk gadget holder. It took me some time longer to determine find out how to use the gadget holder in first than it did in economic system. Nevertheless, it was fairly slick as soon as I acquired the grasp of it. You may prop up your individual gadget (suppose cellphone, iPad, Zune — I don’t decide) each when the tray is half and totally opened (scroll down a bit and there are some pics).
Cruising lighting altitude
The temper lighting. Don’t knock it. I used to make enjoyable of airways/manufactures selling their temper lighting as advertising fluff. However I’m a convert. My picture isn’t so nice, however think about a Virgin America A320 making a lighting child with an Alaska 737-900 Boeing Sky Inside and you’ve got it.
The ability field. Up till a number of years again I by no means seen the facility packing containers underneath the seats. Then my pal Jason Rabinowitz would at all times discuss them after we flew collectively and now I can’t not discover them. They’ll take away fairly a little bit of legroom (like they do in Alaska’s present product). With the brand new structure, they’re tucked means up underneath the seat and at 6’1″, I couldn’t contact it — even after I tried (and I did). Bravo!
The ice cream
Ice cream. I might have simply led with this, referred to as it a day, and been comfy with my evaluation. Ice cream at cruising altitude won’t ever, ever get previous and can at all times put a smile to my face. It’d sound foolish to some, however I really feel that issues like ice cream can take a first-class expertise to the subsequent degree — particularly on a home flight.
My total meals expertise. If I had a “what I used to be okay with” part, this is able to be in it, however I didn’t need to create it only for one bullet. The presentation was nice (three course), my squash soup was delish. However the principle course of beef was too nicely carried out, dry, and didn’t include sufficient sauce to put it aside. It was good having the complete meal service, after which later they got here round with a basket of snacks to select from.
Energy twine for the leisure gadget
Salt and pepper
The Humor. I stored getting these little goodies they usually stored being a bit humorous. Nothing tremendous loopy, however virtually dad-joke degree of stuff, which I like. Does this form of stuff matter? Heck sure it does… it leaves you with that form of “heat and fuzzies” feeling in the direction of a model and exhibits an necessary consideration to element.
BYOD Leisure. When you have your individual gadget, you understand how to attach it to the web, and also you deliver your individual headphones… you might be set. Alaska gives an excellent choice of free WiFi leisure, accessible to all passengers.
My finest attempt at illustrating the shortage of bulkhead. Authentic (pre-edited) Photograph: Alaska Airways
What I disliked in regards to the new Alaska Airways first-class
The bulkhead. I don’t say this to be elitist, however I actually don’t like the brand new bulkhead, or the thought it doesn’t exist anymore. One of the simplest ways I can describe it’s a solar visor sticking down that gives no actual privateness or separation. Paradoxically the passengers (in premium economic system) straight behind me talked about how a lot they miss the bulkhead. It was simply form of awkward since their 3-3 structure lined up properly (or badly, I suppose) to the primary’s 2-2. It made it simpler for me to listen to them and for them to look over my shoulder. Yea, yea, I do know, these bulkheads permit extra seats, so decrease costs (stuff I preach about on a regular basis), nevertheless it doesn’t imply I’ve to love them!
The gadget from the airline appears to be like cool, however I didn’t discover it straightforward to make use of. The holder on the tray desk was good although!
The Home windows pill video participant thingy. These are the handheld devices that Alaska hands out to free to first-class passengers which have built-in leisure. At 39, I generally discover myself getting extra pissed off with know-how than I believe I ought to. I attempted utilizing the principle menus, however in some way ended up in a browser, and couldn’t get any films to play. After clicking round semi-aimlessly, I figured it out — though my reward was a fairly restricted choice. I’m confused why these nonetheless exist. In the event that they have been tremendous easy (push button, watch film, yay), then certain. But when everybody has gadgets (i.e. their very own telephones), and these aren’t straightforward to make use of and have restricted choices…what’s the level?
No WiFi. The WiFi connecting our flight to the world didn’t work. That sucked. Even sucked extra that not one of the crew member talked about that it was going to be down (or apologized). Personally, I’m high quality when my flight doesn’t have WiFi, however in case you are planning to make use of the 6+ hour flight for work, it is a fairly large let down.
How Does the New First Class Stack Up?
Alaska’s new first-class product (laborious and smooth) may be very spectacular. In my earlier story on the product I questioned how much of Virgin’s influence might be found in the new Alaska and regardless of how you’re feeling, I believe you’ll like what you discover. I believe that is actually an “evolution-plus” of the earlier product. It’s greater than only a easy refresh, or updating of textures/colours, however they’re offering a number one product.
After all one would anticipate a brand new product to be higher than the one it replaces, however how does the brand new Alaska first-class examine to the competitors? And actually, for these flying out of Seattle, the large query is how does it compete with Delta? After flying Delta’s first-class proper earlier than the brand new Alaska first-class, I really feel fairly assured in my ideas.
Though I didn’t have a window seat, my seatmate was good sufficient to let me snap a number of window pics
In case you weren’t involved about miles or standing on both airline and simply seemed on the smooth/laborious product, total I’d select to fly the brand new Alaska first-class over Delta’s — no query (you additionally get entry to Alaska’s lounges, which is a large plus).
I believe the largest situation is consistency. what you’re going to get on virtually any Delta home first-class product. Fly on an MD-80, a CRJ-700, a 737, or a 757, regardless of once they have been constructed, they’re going give just about the identical passenger expertise (which I believe they do an exquisite job). With Alaska, they’ve about 50 of their 71 Airbus transformed and when requested they advised me that they’re “nonetheless discussing plans for the 737-800/900 fleet interiors.” Which means, it is likely to be a problem (even for you AvGeek execs) to make sure you may be flying with the brand new first-class.
Fleet change doesn’t come straightforward, nor occur rapidly (particularly when Alaska has over 30 737 Max, which can be delayed). As soon as Alaska is ready to replace their fleet, and supply a constant first-class flight expertise, they are going to be in a a lot better aggressive place. To not say that they aren’t too dangerous now, but when they wait too lengthy for the fleet-wide improve, that simply provides the competitors extra time to provide you with their very own enhancements.
Not the aircraft I used to be on, however one that appears so much prefer it. You AvGeek execs will know the large distinction.
Have you ever had an opportunity to fly it but? And even have some ideas in regards to the older product and the way it compares to the competitors? Depart your ideas within the feedback!