Airline review: Alaska Airlines, Seattle to Los Angeles, economy class

THE PLANE

Boeing 737-700. Alaska Airlines operates 155 Boeing 737s (across all models), which are manufactured near its home city of Seattle.

THE ROUTE

Seattle to Los Angeles.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Points can accrue to Qantas' Frequent Flyer scheme, along with those of other partner airlines including Emirates, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and American Airlines.

CLASS

Economy, seat 18C.

DURATION

2.5 hours from Seattle to LA.

FREQUENCY

There are departures between the two cities about every hour.

THE SEAT

32 inches (81cm) pitch, 17 inches (43cm) width. There are 112 economy seats in a 3-3 layout.

BAGGAGE

Checked baggage costs $US25 each for the first and second bags, $US75 for subsequent bags (up to 23kg each in weight). One carry-on bag plus one additional personal item may be taken aboard without charge.

COMFORT

The seats on this 737 are squeezed for width, particularly noticeable on this morning flight as the economy section is completely full. However, I'm pleasantly surprised by the relatively generous leg room, which avoids having my knees pressed into the seat ahead. Miraculously, the passenger in front of me doesn't recline his seat, which helps maintain the space. My seat is comfortable, with enough cushioning for this short-haul flight. This is apparently an older aircraft, lacking recharge sockets for electronic devices.

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ENTERTAINMENT

There is no seatback entertainment system on this plane, but passengers can watch movies and TV programs by connecting to the Alaska Beyond entertainment selection via their own devices' Wi-Fi; though you need to download the Gogo Entertainment app before flying. Popular movies on the system include Kingsman, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, and Mad Max: Fury Road. TV shows include Gotham, Castle and Black-ish. There is also a free music track each month from a local artist, courtesy of the airline's partnership with Seattle's Sub Pop Records.

SERVICE

Alaska Airline's cabin crew is cheerful and helpful throughout the flight, efficiently serving food and drink shortly after we leave Seattle.

FOOD

As it is a mid-morning flight, the main item on the menu is a roast turkey sandwich with provolone and rocket, served in a soft sweet bun. It also contains espresso mayonnaise, described in the menu as "a nod to the Seattle coffee scene". In addition to this there are several snack packs. I order the fruit and cheese platter ($US7.50), which is tasty and well presented. The cheese is from the west coast, consisting of wedges of Beecher's Flagship cheese, along with Tillamook sharp cheddar and brie. Alongside this are crackers, sliced apple and grapes, rounding off a fresh and satisfying snack. Other packs feature hummus and olives, salami, and beef jerky. There is also a kids' pack which contains curious processed items such as a "honey brown sugar turkey snack stick".

ONE MORE THING

There is a Wi-Fi service available inflight, with various access options starting at $7 for an hour's connectivity. A cost-free alternative is the airline's free chat service, which allows passengers to use Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp while in the air.

THE VERDICT

I could do with more seat width, but otherwise this Alaska Airlines service is sufficiently comfortable for a domestic hop, with good catering and entertainment options. It also makes a handy link to Australian-bound services operating to and from LAX.

OUR SCORE 3.5 out of 5

Tim Richards paid for his own airfare.

See also: Airline review: Singapore Airlines shows how good economy can be

See also: The best and fastest routes for Australians flying to the USA

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