Alaska Continues to Downgrade their In Flight Service

Alaska Airlines quietly rolled out another downgrade to their inflight service on December 1st without so much as an announcement to their frequent fliers. They sneakily changed their website and hoped that no one would notice.

Alaska Airlines is a great option for those who live in Portland, Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles. If you’re living on a coast, Alaska is a great option. Delta has made a lot of inroads in Seattle, Alaska’s home. Delta’s planes are newer and they have better in flight amenities, but their frequent mileage plan sucks. Alaska’s one area for improvement in order to compete with the Delta are the in flight amenities.

Alaska First Class Sale

Making Long Flights Bearable

It’s no doubt that Alaska Airlines has one of the best frequent fliers programs around. They’re very rewarding, but one area that they’ve always needed to make life a little better was on board the aircraft. I mean… they still have carpets on the wall in first class for crying out loud…

When traveling in First Class you could always count on getting an inflight tablet to watch movies. The other good part about being a 75k is that they would give you that tablet in coach…when your upgrade didn’t clear it made it a little easier to deal.

Adios Inflight Players

Well, kiss that goodbye. In the past, any flight over 3 and a half hours would come with Inflight entertainment players. Now, they’re taking them off all flights except “certain” trans-continental flights and Hawaii flights.

Not all transcontinental flights are created equal however. We spoke to someone who flew to Pittsburgh and they didn’t have it. We spoke to someone else who flew to Raleigh-Durham and they didn’t have them. That makes me assume that they’re only going to put them on the premium transcontinental routes like JFK/EWR/BOS/BWI/etc…

Why remove them?

There’s the official line, and then there’s what I really think happened.

Officially they’re “removing them so they can make room for more food and beverage options to customers.”

Why do I think they did it? I think they did it because no one was renting them and they were giving them away for free. They’re seriously heavy and probably it came down to a cost savings option. Every pound on an airplane comes down to a cost benefit analysis.

While they could be rewarding 75k members and giving them an extra perk for flying, it just cost too much. I’d imagine they were offsetting the fuel cost by renting them out to people in coach class.

Free Inflight Entertainment

Alaska says that they’ll still continue to offer their in flight entertainment on your own devices. The problem there? Sometimes it doesn’t work. They don’t have all of the latest movies (often the tablets are loaded with the latest releases). On this flight, I got to see such blockbusters as Curly Sue and Home Alone. 

Awesome.

Thanks Alaska Airlines for once again downgrading your service and screwing over passengers just to delight the board members.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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16 Comments

  1. FYI, this happened before Dec 1, as I flew from Fairbanks to Seattle on 11/25 and was told this from the FA, when I asked about my tablet in 1st Class.

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    • Well damn… even more sad that no communication went out.

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  2. And within the last week, if you book ‘infant in arms’ on a partner award ticket, they charge the same price as an adult award ticket. I have been planning ATL-SEA-HKG on CX for the longest. I have enough miles for me & my wife and infant in arms but not enough for 3 adults so what am I supposed to do with my 5 month old???

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    • Why can’t you just book it with two people, and then call Cathay afterwards and add the infant? Don’t book it that way through Alaska?

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      • I tried and they tell you to call Alaska. And its clearly listed on the Alaska website award page now.

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  3. Hi Jon – If i recall correctly, that carpet on the wall has some significance related to Alaskan Inuit Heritage. The person in the parka in their logo and on the tail of the planes is also an Alaskan Native, though I am sure you knew that already. I learned about the carpet a few years ago.

    We flew from Kona to Seattle just this last Tuesday and they had them.

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  4. Alaska has added used Airbus aircraft to the fleet and the Airbus have substantially smaller galleys. Tablets were removed from markets that are, or could be round trip catered because 30 percent of the fleet now does not have space in the galley to provision them. Premium Long Haul flights are always supported by extra catering at both ends of the flight, which keeps the tablet program viable in those markets.

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  5. Alaska is still my favorite go to airline. And they sure don’t seem to make the news in a negative way such as American and United.

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    • If we’re going to set the bar as low as being dragged out of a flight and punched in the face… We agree, Alaska too is our favorite airline, and certainly our favorite mileage program, but there is no denying they’ve been chipping at their benefits for a while.

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  6. Just flew from PDX to HNL on 12/3 and got a tablet up in FC

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    • Good to know they’re still around on those long flights to Hawaii!

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  7. Alaska surveys their elite customers constantly before they make these changes. They are positive that they are not upsetting the majority of their customers before changes occur.

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    • They definitely do survey, but they do not run their business as a democracy. No matter how many people complained about food, they haven’t improved it. No matter how many people complained about the amount of first class seats, they still took one full row away. We’re surveyed all the time and invited to focus groups frequently, but at the end of the day the decision are made to please the board after calculating the business impact.

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    • As we live in the first world, yes! Very observant of you 🙂

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  8. For me this world be an upgrade. I’m more concerned about their lack of special meals on long flights when they offer meal service, the only US airline with this failing.

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