The newest location of Alaska Airlines’ Company Store is in “The Hub,” a 6-story office building the carrier opened near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in July 2020, just as the world was going into lockdown due to the pandemic.
That’s why there’s been little publicity about this great avgeek shopping destination.
The store is filled with all manner of branded gear for fans of Alaska Airlines and its sister regional carrier, Horizon Air.
During our visit before Thanksgiving, we found lots of great gifts at very reasonable prices.
Here are some snaps of just some of our purchases, which are also available online.
Pack light. Avoid jet lag. Stay safe; but choose adventure.
These are the oft-repeated mantras of frequent travelers and
buying gifts for them is often a challenge.
To get you started on your holiday shopping, we gathered some gear, gadgets and great ideas for gifts to help travelers stay on course and find new adventures this holiday season.
Our list posted first on CNBC.
great ideas on the go
Smartphones and tablets are great for taking pictures and notes, but what about keeping track of feelings, impressions, sketches, perfect one-liners, overheard snippets of odd conversations and great ideas that arrive out of the blue when you’re on the road?
That’s why frequent travelers usually carry some sort of pocket notebook and why new and cool ones are great gifts.
In addition to classic and themed planners and notebooks (many of which can be personalized), Moleskine has city-specific notebooks, passion journals and a line of limited-edition pop culture notebooks celebrating David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and others.
Inspired by the promotional memo books seed, tractor and
agricultural companies would give away to farmers, the modern-day Field Notes line of small notebooks are
loved by detail geeks and hipsters alike. Give a Field Notes e-gift card,
a limited edition set celebrating National Parks, Space expeditions or the band
Wilco, or a year-long subscription ($110) that delivers four quarterly mailings
with the two-sets of the newest limited editions design and bonus surprises.
Books that inspire and inform travel or offer historical or
political context for a planned trip are always great gifts, as are calendars
that can serve as daily reminders of favorite destinations and those places still
on “want to go” lists.
E-calendars are useful,
but for marking the days until the next trip, travel-themed calendars are far
more fun. Look for the 2020 wall or page-a-day versions ($14.00 to $16.99) of
“1000 Places to See Before You Die,” “Atlas Obscura,” and “Rick Steves’
Delight those devoted
Many airlines, hotels
and cruise lines offer plastic, paper or virtual gift cards and certificates
that can be used towards booking flights, adventures and stays. The cards are
super-convenient but be sure to check for restrictions and any expiration rules
if you go this route for gifts.
Find special gifts for
aviation geeks and travelers devoted to certain airlines on airline company
store websites. Southwest Airlines may no longer serve
peanuts, but it does sell a retro-style lunchbox with the airline’s peanut-pack
image on the outside and two 10-oz bags of peanuts (honey-roasted and lightly
salted) inside; ($29.00). And fans of the new custom-designed uniforms fashion
Seattle designer Luly Yang created for Alaska Airlines can purchase
Yang-designed socks, sunglasses, scarves, shoes and handbags and weekend bags online
at the Alaska Airlines Company Store.
Over at the Airportag aviation and travel gift shop, the choices range from travel bags
and bedding to fashion, gear, gadgets, art and housewares that all have airport,
airline and travel-related themes. Bonus: much of the gear is customizable.
Need to fill some
stockings? Travel-sized versions of lotions, potions, snack-foods, personal
care items and first-aid staples can do the trick. And a box or bag filled with
a dozen or more hand-picked travel items makes a great gift.
Travel PAKT creates customized kits of travel-sized toiletries with an eye to
sustainable sources, natural ingredients and recyclable or compostable
packaging. Minimus.biz carries more than 2500 travel-sized items as well as pre-made
sets, including an Eco-Traveler gift set, an Avid Traveler Essentials Gift Set
($65.48; 60 items) a Business Traveler Kit ($24. 24; 15 items) and a Carry-On
Caddy for men ($16.72) or women ($16.10).
Finding a great
restaurant on the road is a treat, but a variety of dining-with-locals programs
connects hungry travelers with amateur chefs. “These programs follow the Airbnb
model of connecting travelers with locals worldwide,” says Seattle-based travel
writer and Carol Pucci, “Not with a room but with a shared meal in a private
You feel good giving a
gift. The recipient feels good getting a gift. But it doesn’t have to end
The World Wildlife Fund offers symbolic species adoption kits ($55 and up) that include a plush version of one of 100 animals (search by popularity or threat level: extinct, endangered or near threatened) as well as a photo, adoption certificate and a species information card. Gift a ‘virtual’ adoption of animals ranging from African Elephants and Hammerhead Sharks to honeybees and zebras and more of your funds go to saving animals travelers may get to see in the wild.
Gifts for Good helps companies and corporate gift-buyers find and create gifts
that give back in some way to a wide variety of social causes. Travel-related
gifts include everything from socks adorned with world maps ($14.95) to stainless steel water bottles ($25) and
upcycled backpacks made from old vinyl billboards ($68). Some, but not all, items
on this site have minimum orders.
Still puzzling over a gift for the road warrior or frequent traveler on your list? How about a plane ticket?
That’s what a recent poll from Switchfly discovered people really want.
More than half of those interviewed (65 percent) said they would be delighted to receive an air travel gift for the holiday. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they’d prefer a gift of a first-class upgrade, while 31 percent would rather have a plane ticket to a foreign country.
Buying plane tickets for your friends and family can be complicated – and costly – so consider instead one of the travel-related gifts on this list.
Some help travelers be more efficient on the road. Others may improve a travel experience, help someone out of a jam or just serve as a pleasant perk on a stressful travel day.
Best of all, the items here can be purchased on-line and delivered to an email inbox at the very last minute.
Because we know you’re a busy traveler too.
Words and pictures for travel
The classic DK Eyewitness Travel Guides were recently revamped and now have updated itineraries, new content, even better images and improved usability. The books are still a bit heavy for those who need to travel light, so it’s a good thing that most all the guides, along with the DK Top 10, Eyewitness Family Travel and the Eyewitness Back Roads series are now available as e-books.
Rosetta’s Stone’s courses in 30 languages can also be delivered as e-gifts and can help travelers with down-time on long plane rides learn how to order a great meal or close a deal in another country.
Relying on hotel toiletries can be a hit or miss proposition, so most frequent travelers stuff their TSA-compliant 3-1-1 bags with tiny tubes and bottles of lotions and potions from brands they love or an assortment of items snitched from hotel bathrooms along the way.
The gift of replenishing those minis is made easy with an e-gift certificate from Minimus.biz, a website that carries more than 2,500 travel and individual-sized items (including food) and a nice variety of gift and personal care travel kits.
Another option is a subscription to Birchbox, which will send your favorite traveler a box filled with five beauty and personal care samples for the next 3, 6 or 12 months. (Prices start at $30 for women and $60 for men.)
Birchbox chooses the grooming products in the amenity kits offered to travelers flying in JetBlue’s Mint premium cabin between JFK and LAX or SFO and has a couple of JetBlue discount codes out there that anyone can use for subscriptions and product discounts.
For the hassles
Just about every airline offers gift cards for travel that can delivered electronically. But for those days when a buddy is stuck at an airport due to bad weather, an ailing airplane or a canceled or just-missed flight, a gift certificate for a service at an airport day spa, such as XpresSpa, or a day pass or full year’s entry into a club lounge may be the answer.
“One option for e-gifting lounge access is — if a friend or family member is a frequent traveler, purchasing a lounge membership online for them could make a lot of sense. For example, United offers their United Club membership for $500 per year, while Delta offers their Delta Sky Club membership starting at $450,” said Lounge Buddy co-founder Brent Griffith.
The Plaza Premium Lounge, an independent all-travelers-welcome lounge with branches in London, Vancouver, Hong Kong and 15 other airports, offers e-certificates for gift cards that are good for a package of 5 to 10 visits that can be used by one person or shared around.
Need more ideas? In his Seat 2B column, Joe Brancatelli has a great list of tried and true gift ideas for road warriors.
(My story about last minute gifts for travelers first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior in a slightly different version.)
Don’t tell my friends and family, but pretty much everyone on my list – including me – is getting some sort of scratch or crumple map from me this year.
Yes, everyone is happy to have Google maps back on their iPhones, but these crumpled/stuff-able city maps seems like they’d be loads of fun. They’re printed on some sort of fibrous, rip-resistant, waterproof material and are available for New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona and Tokyo for about $20 each.
Some people keep a number tally of how many countries they’ve been to; this scratch-off map let’s them keep a visual tally. About $24.
I found these – and lots of other map and travel-related goodies that will end up in gift boxes this year -on the Uncommon Goods site, although I suspect you’ll also find these items in some other on-line and ‘in-person’ stores as well.