Monday, 15 August 2022

Joyride With Alaska Airlines On Transcon Route (Part 2: SEA-JFK)

 Welcome to my return flight trip report from SEA to JFK! 


I was fortunate to have spotted this beauty a few times during my trip. This photo was taken on my Alaska's A320CEO ride at San Francisco Airport. (Below)





Introduction

For this flight AS86, the aircraft type remains as it from the time of booking and looking at the flight schedule, Airbus A321NEO operated about 90% of the time and 737 MAX 9 did fly a few times on this flight presumbly to replace the A321NEO which likely have gone technical. It was a good thing I book this flight instead of the later flight as it turned out I got to fly on the A321NEO with the special livery. At this point of time, it was important to fly on Alaska's Airbus aircraft as they would be removed from the fleet a year later when the lease is either up or available for cancellation. However, you never know what the future holds especially with the uncertainty of the Boeing 737 MAX 10. If this aircraft continues to be delayed in obtaining the certification for the airlines to operate this model, the airline surely will have to look at other options. If Alaska can renegotiate the terms of lease of the 10 A321NEO fleet, maybe we can see them staying on with the airline longer, who knows! I hope this happens. After flying the 737-900ER, I still prefer flying on the A320 narrowbody for the quieter cabin and wider diameter of the aircraft which offers better seat width (depending on the airline's configuration of the Y class seats). The 737-900ER and MAX 9 cabin diameter is the same so I don't expect any difference in cabin comfort. 

A brief history of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 

This is the main airport at Seattle serving commercial flights since 1944. The airport features 3 runways, 16L/34R, 16C/34C and 16R/34L and is considered to be one of the smallest major U.S Airports flying on both domestic and international routes. This is a hub for Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines and they have been fighting competitively with each other on transcontinental routes and routes around the west coast. 

The central terminal building was last renovated and expanded in 2003, with the 3rd runway opened in 2008. In 2014, Delta Airlines expanded this hub by introducing more routes to Asia and its believed this is a response to United's transpacific hub base at SFO. Now, there are 2 satellite terminals, they are south and north. They have been upgraded to meet the demands and to ensure it stays competitive with other airports. The new North Satellite terminal was opened in June 2021 which upgraded and expand the terminal by adding more gates and filling it with more eateries and a rooftop lounge for Alaska Airlines. The airport was also modernised and more retail spaces were added to enhance the airport to encourage more travellers to consider this airport for layover or perhaps a day or two in the city, getting to know Seattle better. 

Map of Seattle Airport


My layover at Seattle Airport 

Seattle Airport is an interesting airport just like any other typical U.S Airports, its filled with shops and eateries. Here are some of the photos I took along the way. The Wi-Fi connection is strong and I was able to do some work during the layover. 







I did some plane spotting during the layover, here are the photos. 

British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner


Icelandair Boeing 757-200


Alaska Airlines Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 MAX 9 (N932AK - special livery)


Alaska AIrlines Boeing 737-900ER


IcelandAir Boeing 757-200 and Delta Airlines Boeing 737-800


Isn't this livery lovely? Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 



Checking the status of my ride, she was on her way from DCA (Washington D.C Airport).



Once I was done with plane spotting, I made my way to the gate via the train. 


Checking my flight, it was departing on time. 


I was quite excited to see this beauty coming in. (Sorry for the poor quality)


Soon, it was time for boarding! The exciting moment had arrived. 



You know you are on the special livery plane as the door is usually white when flying on the standard livery aircraft. 



Flight route: SEA-JFK 


Miles: 2,421 

My ride: N927VA 

Photo: Patrick Simon 


Airbus A321-253N (leased from Banc of America)
Transferred to Alaska Airlines (From Virgin America) - March 2018
Configuration: C16 Y174
Engines: 2 X CFM Leap-1A33 
MSN: 8126 
Age: 4 years old (June 2022)
Built in Hamburg (XFW)
Special livery - More To Love 

About the 'More To Love' special livery 

This special livery was launched by Alaska Airlines to celebrate the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America and also to remind the public about how this combined company will offer more flights, more routes and more rewards for everyone. In addition to the 2 Airbus A321NEO painted in this livery, the airline also painted 1 Boeing 737-900ER in this livery. 

This is N493AS (Photo: Wim Callaert)


Date of departure: 9 June 2022
Airline: Alaska Airlines 
Flight: AS86 
Route: SEA-JFK
Aircraft: Airbus A321-253N
Registration: N927VA 
Seat: 29F
Departure gate: D4
Scheduled Departure time: 2145
Boarding: 2128 
Take off: 2245 
Load: 100% 
Announced flight time: 4 hours 19 mins 
Actual flight time: 4 hours 21 mins
Scheduled arrival: 0605
Touch down: 0606
Arrival gate: 4 
JFK terminal: 7 
SEA take-off runway: 16L
JFK arrival runway: 31R

In-flight experience 

N927VA landed about 16 minutes late from DCA but it should have enough time to make it for the next flight (our flight). However, our flight was delayed as the departure time was fast approaching and at that time no announcements were made. Since my arrival from my previous flight till departure time, it was raining nonstop and this might have caused a few delays with other flights. Anyway, boarding took place about 17 mins before scheduled departure time, we won't be able to depart on time, that's for sure. As this was a full flight, announcement was made looking for 30 volunteers to check in their bags and luckily, some of them did just that. 

Once we were on board, I was feeling quite tired and I knew I would knock out anytime soon. We sat for a while at the tarmac as apparently the tow truck broke down (engine failure), but they manage to get it started after a while and finally about 47 minutes after the scheduled departure time, we were on our way. According to the pilot, the reason for our late boarding was because there was an issue with the aircraft, fortunately, the mechanics (thank you!) got it fixed and we were able to proceed on with our flight but our flight departure was further delay due to the tow truck, so it wasn't a good start to our flight. 

Once we were airborne, it didn't take long after for me to knock out. I missed the beverages service as a result and only woke up about 40 minutes left of the flight.Wow! I didn't expect to sleep this long, as for the seat itself, this time on the Economy Class cabin, it was fine for me. I guess when you are tired, nothing else matters. 

The cabin crew on board were ok, I didn't get to interact with them much only before and after the flight but they were friendly as we greeted each other. Overall, I enjoyed this flight and was glad I got the much needed rest. 

Cabin interior 

First class 

There are 6 rows of 4 First class seats with a configuration of 2-2 with the retrofitted cabin products 

You can check out my review on this class over here.




Premium Class 

There are 18 premium seats in this cabin in a 3-3 configuration. These seats features 4 inch' of legroom space longer than the standard Economy Class seats. You can check out my review on this product in this trip report, click here.





Economy Class 

There are 150 seats in this 3-3 configuration. 

Notice the window seat before the emergency door, you get plenty of legroom space there, of course you have to pay extra for it. For this flight, I would be sitting in this class. 


Even though this aircraft is in the special 'More to love' livery, the interior is the same as the standard livery A321 aircraft. 




Legroom space was adequate on this 4 hours + flight. 



This was my seat. 


It is always nice to be able to photograph before the rest of the passengers step into the aircraft. 








What do you think of this cabin? It was a full flight but I find it to be alright. 







More photos of the Main Cabin seats 

Adequate legroom space for a 6 foot 4. 


Like the other aircraft, steaming services is available on this aircraft, you need to use your own device for it. 





The safety card of this aircraft 



I missed out on the in-flight snack meal as I fell asleep for most parts of the flight so no in-flight snack/drink report. 

In-Flight Entertainment 

I was still able to keep track of the flight's progress. Free messenger was available and to access the wi-fi, a fee of $8 was available for the duration of this flight.




Window shot photos 

Rainy Seattle, its been like that the whole day.



At this point, we started accelerating down the runway. 


Off we go in this crappy weather. The flight was slightly bumpy during take off. 


After a few hours of sleep, I woke up with the sky brightening up.




What a lovely morning it was. 





This time, I arrived in JFK in fantastic weather as I got to enjoy the sunrise while on approach. 





We landed smoothly and a shout out to the flight crew for doing their best to catch up on the lost time and thanks to them, we landed at JFK on time. 



This has to be one of the shortest taxi from the runway to the gate, it took less than 5 minutes. 


At the gate (no photo), I saw the other More To Love A321 livery (N926VA) leaving for Seattle. With that, my flying trip in the U.S had came to an end. 

My flight summary 



Arrival at JFK Airport 

I had about 11 hours before my flight to London so I decided to hang around at the TWA hotel to rest. 




I certainly had a blast in the U.S and I can't wait to be back next year.
My rating 

Airline's website/mobile app: 3/5
Airport staff at SEA Airport: 3.5/5
In-Flight Service: 3.5/5
Cleanliness of aircraft: 5/5
Condition of the seat: 5/5
In-Flight Entertainment: 3/5 (Same rating as my 739ER experience)
In-Flight Snack/Meal: N/A 
Seat comfort: 4/5 
Cabin interior: 4.5/5
Punctuality: 4/5 (Considering how late we depart, we manage to land on time) 
Overall rating: 35.5/45 
Percentage: 79% 
Verdict: Great! 

Conclusion 

After flying on all the 3 products with this airline, what do I think? Most importantly, I find the seats comfortable. While I like the seats and the legroom space for the First and premium classes, the lack of IFE system does bother me as I prefer it over using my device to use the steaming device offered by the airline. At least there is the USB charging port and socket to power up your device when the battery is low though charging is slow. The in-flight services on the flights were great, crew were active and friendly with the passengers. Just like any other U.S airlines, it would have been great to receive a proper in-flight snack for the Economy Class passengers, like a sandwich or something. Overall, I recommend this airline to anyone thinking of flying with this airline. This Oneworld member is definitely making a strong presence in its hub, giving its competitors a good run of their money. With the take over of Virgin America, the airline has grown stronger and is operating more flights to the east coast now. In a few years time, this airline would be operating a full Boeing 737 fleet so if you like to try out their Airbus fleet, now its the time to do so. At this point of time, the A321NEO is no longer operating on the SEA-JFK route, but it has been seen operating SFO-JFK and flights to DCA from SFO and SEA. Hope you enjoy this trip report.

For my other Alaska Airlines trip report:

(First Class A320 SFO-LAX: click here)
(Premium 737-900ER SEA-JFK: click here)

For my next trip report (Virgin Atlantic A330-300 Premium Class report), click here

Thanks for reading!
Charles


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