Review: Alaska Airlines First Class B737-7: Bellingham – Las Vegas


With a population spread out across wide distances in Canada, there is usually a lot of travel time between Canada’s cities. With only two major air carriers in Canada, the options for full business class are pretty lean, without a lot of competition as compared to our neighbours to the south. Air Canada has had a monopoly on business travel in Canada for quite a number of years and is the leading choice for regular business travelers. We used upgrade credits to land ourselves into Business Class for today’s flight into Middle Canada.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. This trip allowed us to earn through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Alaska Airlines First Class B737-7, Bellingham – Las Vegas

“Alaska Airlines departures from border town Bellingham, Washington, USA offers a reasonable alternative from expensive Canadian airports for lessor cost

Instead of our usual departure from Vancouver International Airport today, we opted for Alaska Airlines leaving from Bellingham. Since there was less incentive to stick on our usual Air Canada Altitude Top Tier Status and Aeroplan Frequent Flier Program thanks to years of devaluations, we opted for a cheaper experience with Alaska. 

We left the house. We self drove down into the United States via car. With a hop through the border with Nexus expedited customs screening and a 17 minute drive down the Interstate 5, and we were at Bellingham International Airport before we knew it.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Bellingham Airport. Now it’s a complete facility with private air park and ample parking for $8 a day- all within an easy 2 minute walk of the terminal WITH an option for a free shuttle bus. 

Bellingham International Airport Departures / Arrivals Zone
Bellingham International Airport Departures Entrance

Checking Into Alaska Airlines First Class:

It was an easy check in with the Alaska counter. There were no actual attendants for economy class- only kiosks. Three counters were manned, with one counter for first class / MVP, and the other two assisting bag drop. Overall, Bellingham International Airport is a bright, clean and modern facility – a contrast from many of the tired, dusty airports around the US like the Seattle Tacoma Airport which has seen better days.

Alaska Airlines Check In
Alaska Airlines First Class / MVP Lane
Alaska Airlines First Class Monitors

There were only a few flights on the board today in an otherwise deserted airport.

Six Flights per Day:
Departures Board at Bellingham International Airport

There was a short line at security today. Although we were TSA Pre-Check flagged, the airport does not have the hardware to participate in it, as there is only one security lane. The TSA podium gave us a coupon to show so we didn’t have to remove your belt and shoes.

Bellingham International Airport: Departures Zone

On the secure side, there are only 4 gates. Sadly, there are no lounge facilities here. We opted for the Scott Browns Social Lounge for a pleasant quick breakfast, which was handled without delay.

Today’s Lounge: Scotty Brown’s Socialhouse
Friendly Service at Scotty Brown’s Social House

As it came time to board, there were lots of gate hang arounds today, made worse by the “check your bag for free” announcement which prompted a rush of people to the podium. 

Crowded First Class Boarding
Alaska Airlines Standby List

Today’s boarding call was for military, kids and first class all at once. We went outdoor to the apron since there are no jet bridges at Bellingham International Airport. Today’s boarding was double end boarding from both ends of the plane. 

Alaska Airlines B737-7
Alaska Airlines Ramp Jet Bridges
Alaska Airlines B737-7 Cockpit
Boarding Alaska Airlines

The Alaska Airlines service from Bellingham to Las Vegas makes use of Alaska Airlines Hawaiian aircraft from their Bellingham – Honolulu routes. The aircraft continue onwards to Las Vegas, then turn around back to Bellingham and then onwards to the Hawaiian Islands. As a result, at the time of travel, the airframes were decorated with the Hawaiian Lei’s that decorated Chester on the tail fin.

First Class 
Alaska Airlines
BLI-LAS (Bellingham International Airport – Las Vegas McCarran Airport)
AS 628 – First Class (P)
10:03 AM – 12:33 PM
August 16, 2014
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800

On board Alaska Airlines First Class:

Settling in on board, we were met with a new aircraft with very comfortable new leather seats in First in a 2/2 seating configuration. There was a full load of 16 in four rows of first class. Economy was configured in the usual three / three configuration in the back.

Alaska Airlines First Class B737-7
Alaska Airlines First Class
Alaska Airlines First Class Cabin
Alaska Airlines First Class Lounger

An interesting Navajo (or similar type) décor on the headboard of the cabin, coupled with Hawaiian shirt traveler. Sharp observers will notice that the in flight entertainment system, television or any type of projectors are completely absent. 

Alaska Airlines Bulkhead Patterned Design

No pre-departure beverage was offered today, one of the only carriers I have been on that isn’t offering this service in business class.

I always find that the in flight magazine is an interesting representation of any airline. Alaska Airlines’ Magazine was packed with fur advertisements and a guarantee for $20 voucher or Alaska Mileage Plan miles if checked bags are not delivered within 20 minutes of landing. Now that’s impressive service!! MrsWT73 agreed. She hates waiting for bags. In blogging spirit, I have no affiliation with any of the fur companies listed. 

Alaska Airlines Baggage Guarantee

We were underway without any wait on runway 16L, headed for a southern departure over rural Bellingham.

Runway 16 at BLI
On Climb to Altitude over rural Bellingham

There is no printed menus offered on Alaska short haul flights. Instead, I found the wine list in the magazine. Hey – there it is, along with our Lei’d napkins.

Alaska Wine List; located in the in flight magazine
Alaska Airlines St Michelle Chardonnay with Alaska Hawaii Napkins

The Meal Service: A Light Brunch

A terrific tasting breakfast quiche was offered, with salad with low fat Rasberry Vinigrette, along with regular beverage top ups. I was happy to have the full breakfast back at Scotty Brown’s at Bellingham airport. There was no way that this portion was going to fully substitute for a meal. 

A Breakfast Quiche accompanied with a light salad with vinaigrette

Views from the Wing:

Today’s flight path took us down the western side of Washington state. We had great views of Mount Olympia and Mount Rainier from Seat 2A on the left side of the aircraft. I never find it tiring looking at mountains from the air. 

Arriving to Las Vegas McCarran Airport:

The approach today into Las Vegas was over some fabulous arid mountains. We caught a glimpse of the Red Rock Canyon just west of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Mountains on the Approach to McCarran
Las Vegas Mountains
Aerials of Red Rock Canyon

Our approach led us around the south side of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s a better view when approaching at night, but it’s still interesting to see the “Million Dollar Mile” in the day time. We eventually passed over the suburbs of Las Vegas, Nevada; a stark contrast from the casino strip.

Mid to South Las Vegas Strip

The Bottom Line: Our Experience on Alaska Airlines First Class

Overall, Alaska Airlines was a better than expected alternative than Air Canada. The on board service was friendly and frequent. The service felt similar to a small company rather than a large legacy carrier operating in a unionized environment. I would easily fly Alaska Airlines again in the future.

Have you ever flown the unusual Bellingham – Las Vegas route by Alaska Airlines?

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