Monday, June 17, 2013

Kauai/Kalalau Trail May 2013 - Alaska Airlines 848 Economy Class (LIH-SJC)

***This post is the conclusion to a full trip report. Click here for the index***

After a quick and easy rental car return at Thrifty, I caught the shuttle bus to the airport and was dropped off right in front of the Alaska Airlines check-in area. There was a small line, but the wait was manageable. I paid the $20 baggage fee to check my large backpack and then took it to the agriculture screening area. As I walked over to the security check, I noticed a long line that stretched down the entire length of the terminal as far as the eye could see.

I wasn't too worried since I had about two hours before departure. Still, I wasn't looking forward to a massive wait through security. Luckily, just as I reached the end of the line, an announcement over the loudspeakers indicated that Check Point 2 at the very end of the terminal would be open due to the long waits. I immediately walked over and got through the security check in less than ten minutes.

Airside at the Lihue Airport really doesn't have much in the way of restaurants and shops, so I just waited it out at the gate for the next hour and a half. Boarding commenced about half an hour prior to departure, and passengers were called by rows. With limited space in the waiting area, however, gate lice swarmed the lines, making it difficult to discern who was actually boarding and who was just milling about. Eventually, I pushed my way to the front, got my ticket scanned, and entered the jet bridge.

Alaska Airlines 873
Boeing 737-800
Lihue (LIH) - San Jose (SJC)
Monday May 6, 2013
Departure: 2:00 PM (scheduled) / 2:02 PM (actual)
Arrival: 10:10 PM (scheduled) / 10:30 PM (actual)
Duration: 5h 10m (scheduled) / 5h 28m (actual)
Seat: 10C (Economy)

The aircraft configuration was identical to my flight into Kauai, and I even selected the exact same seat. Alaska Airlines only flies the narrow-body Boeing 737 to Hawaii, but I'm actually starting to enjoy these planes more, given the fewer total passengers. As a general rule, however, I still prefer the wide-body 767 any day. Regardless, service remains the most important criteria for me on flights to and from Hawaii, since seats in economy vary by little.

After a smooth take-off, we settled into our cruising altitude. Many passengers on the left side of the plane were busy taking their last pictures of Kauai as the island slipped away from view. Within half an hour, the flight attendants sprang into action, renting out digEplayers and headsets. Everyone working this flight seemed extra cheerful, and it made for a pleasant journey across the Pacific. Multiple drink and snack services were carried out quickly and efficiently.

I noticed the crew made a big push for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card all throughout the flight, including asking those passengers who only paid $99 for their ticket to raise their hands. It was kind of funny watching people's eyes widen as they listened to the announcements. Needless to say, many opted to take an application as the flight attendant came down the aisle.

We probably hit some strong headwinds along the way because by the time we descended into San Jose, we were running a good 20 minutes late. I really wish Alaska Airlines would push their return flights from Hawaii up a little earlier since the arrivals tend to be on the late side, especially for those who need to work the next day. Our approach into San Jose was slightly turbulent, but we landed without incident. After a long delay at the baggage claim, I finally left the airport at almost 11:00 pm. Still, this was a mostly enjoyable flight with an excellent Alaska Airlines crew, as usual.

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