Trip Report: Alaska Airlines (A320) Domestic First (Flight Cancelled)

The Details

  • Flight: AS1133
  • Aircraft: A320
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 2A

The Preflight

The night before my flight, I got numerous alerts from Alaska Airlines that the historic storm in the PNW was wreaking havoc on flights in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International on February 13, 2021. Many forecasts had about eight inches of snow falling at SEA making it the snowiest day in 52 years. My original itinerary had me going SAN-SEA-ORD with the SEA-ORD flight AS34 departing at 10:50AM. However, this flight was pre-emptively cancelled and my new SEA-ORD flight AS26 was scheduled to depart at 5:45PM. Meanwhile my SAN-SEA flight was still showing an on time departure of 6:15AM. Naively, I decided to try my luck and hope that I would be able to get home to Chicago with Alaska Airlines.

Therefore, I got dropped off at San Diego International at 5:20AM and made my way to the First Class check-in area. The TSA PreCheck lane was open and there was no one in front of me in the line ensuring that I was airside in under two minutes.

Our A320, registration N847VA, was leased brand new from RBS Aerospace from Virgin America in December 2012. After the Alaska Airlines acquisition of VA in 2016, she was transferred to Alaska Airlines in January 2018. Due to COVID-19, Alaska Airlines has stored 30 of their 51 A320s leaving just 21 currently active and flying.

All of the ex-Virgin America A320s have been repainted in the Alaska livery which I really like. In addition, all of the old interiors have been retrofitted with the newest Alaska Airlines ones.

Boarding began promptly at 5:35AM with pre-boarding for those who need assistance and families with infants. Next, was First Class and Elite passengers.

The Flight

Alaska Airlines offers a total of 12 First Class seats aboard their A320s arranged in a 2-2 configuration between rows 1-3. In addition, there are 24 Premium and 114 economy seats in a 3-3 configuration. Each First Class seat was the new Recaro CL4710 recliner which Alaska was the launch customer for. On their Boeing B737s, Alaska Airlines features the older generation Recaro CL4400s.

Each seat was 21″ wide and offered an industry leading 41″ of pitch. I really appreciate how Alaska offers four inches more than all the other US domestic carriers in the forward cabin. Similar to American and United, Alaska has decided to focus on streaming IFE instead of seatback screens. There was a basic literature pocket in the seatback.

The legroom was very generous.

One unique feature of the first class seat when compared to Delta, United, and American is that Alaska offers a footrest which I like.

There was a dedicated bottle holder in the center console for each seat in addition to a small table top space.

Below the table top was a USB port and 110V outlet for each passenger.

The recline button was located below the bottle holder. There was also a small storage pocket.

The right armrest contained the tray table and was non-adjustable.

I appreciated how sturdy the tray table was.

An improvement over the older First class seats is that Alaska opted to install a device holder which folded up from the tray table.

Even when fully folded out the tray table was stable.

Once each passenger in First was situated, flight attendants came through and passed out chilled water bottles. We were also given sanitizing wipes.

At around 5:50AM, 20 minutes after boarding began, flight attendants made an announcement over the intercom that our flight had been delayed and that all passengers were going to have to deplane. SEA was currently under a ground stop with an indefinite end time due to the heavy snow. Gate agents updated us as we exited the aircraft that the new boarding time was at 6:50AM.

After I deplaned, I made my way to the Airspace Lounge, which I had access to thanks to my AMEX Platinum Card. Quiet a few passengers on my flight also entered the lounge.

There was an assortment of complimentary packaged snacks available from the bar area. In addition, there was a bartender staffed espresso machine and bar as well. Alcohol was available for purchase.

All passengers accessing the lounge through AMEX are given a $10 voucher for use. There was a printed menu at the bar with the food offerings.

I ordered the breakfast sandwich with bacon, Americano, and a large bottle of water.

At 6:50AM, I dutifully made my way back to the gate area to find the boarding doors still closed. Gate agents made another announcement that they would update us again at 7:50AM on a new departure time. At this time, they had no idea when our departure would be.

Our new boarding time came and went as I sat in the Airspace Lounge. By this time I started looking on United and American for alternative flights and told myself if the Alaska flight was delayed pass 10AM, I would cancel and book with another carrier. Once my own deadline passed, I made my way back to the gate area and asked the gate agent to cancel my flight. She handed me a paper slip with a number to call and assured me that I would get a refund.

Thanks for the 20 minutes onboard!

I managed to book a United flight home to Chicago through Houston and I made my way to Terminal 2 East to check-in with UA. Once I landed in Houston, I checked my phone and received multiple alerts that both of my original Alaska flights had been cancelled.

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