To show off its new “Alaska Beyond” package of in-flight amenities and services, Alaska Airlines parked a 737 out in front of Seattle’s Museum of Flight on Thursday and welcomed aboard a planeload of frequent fliers, reporters and bloggers for a two-hour flight over Oregon and Washington.
I got to tag along.
During the flight passengers could test out the new on-board entertainment options, which include both free and for-purchase TV shows and films that can be streamed on personal devices and new inflight entertainment tablets (rented in the Main Cabin for $8-$10 and free in First Class) offering access to new movie releases, selections from the Seattle International Film Festival, TV shows, music, digital magazines and games.
The Alaska Beyond program extends to the buy-on-board menu, which now includes Canoe Ridge Wines blended especially for drinking at 30,000 feet and dishes created by Seattle’s three-time James Beard award-winning chef Tom Douglas, who was on board serving his BBQ chicken sandwiches and coleslaw and, afterwards, helping to gather up the empty wrappers.
Alaska says that by mid-April, 70 percent of its planes will feature all the Alaska Beyond amenities (which also include power at each seat and leather seats by Recaro with adjustable headrests) and all the airline’s 737s will offer direct-to-your personal-device-entertainment.
Why is Alaska doing all this upgrading now? Some say it has to do with Delta Air Lines’ aggressive push into the market. No doubt. But who’s going to argue against welcome improvements in services and in-flight amenities, especially those that remind Pacific Northwest passengers of home?