Review: Alaska Airlines First Class B737-8, Kahului Maui – Bellingham


The Alaska Airlines First Class service from Maui to Bellingham allowed us to sneak onto one of the few day time operated flights that didn’t require a red eye overnight flight back to North America. Our flight was scheduled to depart Hawaii at 2:30 PM, allowing a more dignified and comfortable return to North America, landing at 10:13 PM. This is easily an advantage to fly American Carriers back to North America and a great tip to chose your routing and flight schedule carefully.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Honolulu & Maui, Hawaii, United States of America. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and Fairmont President’s Club. 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 B737-8, Kahului Airport Maui – Bellingham International Airport

“Alaska Airlines First Class featured a traditional recliner seat, along with some innovative catering and exceptionally friendly service”

Alaska Airlines
First Class
OGG-BLI (Kahului International Airport – Bellingham International Airport)
AS 808 – First Class (G)
January 12, 2016
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800
Departure: 2:25 PM
Arrival: 10:13 PM

Checking into Alaska Airlines First Class:

We left the Fairmont Kea Lani. We were sad to go after such a great short stay. We took in one last parting view from the 7th floor of our wing at the breach overlooking the Fairmont Villa’s.

We returned our rental at Hertz. The roving return met us and we had the quick bus over to the terminal. We put our checked bag through the agriculture inspection and proceeded over to check in. All the computer kiosks were off work sick today so we queued in the regular first class line. There was a very short line at the Alaska First Class check in, but with two counter agents working, we were checked in quickly. Okay – it’s also fair to say we had a few bags as well.

Kahului Airport Check In Halls
Alaska First Class and MVP Check In Maze
We had baggage as we packed our own snorkels, masks and dry bags with us
First Class MVP Counters

We went through with TSA Pre-Check and into the departure area of the Kahului airport. Like the Honolulu airport, it has some nice open breezeways in a very dated and 1980’s functional décor. There haven’t been many changes here over the years!

On the Secure Side at OGG Kahului Airport

We took in lunch at the food court and the California Pizza Kitchen. There are no accessible lounges here for Alaska customers and we had deliberately arrived late so that we weren’t at the airport for too much longer prior to our flight. As a matter of fact, there aren’t many lounges at all at Kahului Airport unless you’re travelling Hawaiian Airlines. After lunch, we went over to the Alaska gates at the end at gate number 1.

Headed to Gate 1

Arriving to Gate 1, we had an air conditioned holding area that was quite busy.

Alaska Airlines Service to Bellingham
Gate Hold Area

Alaska continued its’ trend to start boarding of its flights early, and this one was no exception. Despite posting a 25 minute flight delay, we were being boarded at T-45, with a plane that had already been at the gate for some time. There was certainly some “honesty” in the flight schedule.

Alaska Airlines B737-8 being prepared to take us to Bellingham

On Board Alaska Airlines First Class:

We boarded our Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-8 into first class. The Alaska Airlines First Class cabin is a 2-2 configuration set in a deep blue with heavily upholstered leather seats.

Boarding Alaska Airlines

We settled in on board, this time in row 3A / 3C. It was the third row of a four row first class cabin. It was far enough away from the galley, but not completely in the back near economy.

Alaska Airlines First Class Seats B737-8
Alaska Airlines B737-8

Pre-Departure Services:

There was a bottle of Dasani water available on our seats in the center console. A pre-departure beverage was offered today which was a mimosa made from sparkling wine mixed with passion fruit guava. This was presented in the usual plastic cup; which is a bit of a low rent touch. While we were settling in, our captain announced a flight time of 4 hours and 58 minute during the pre-flight announcements.

A Pre-Departure Beverage of Mimosa with Passion Fruit Guava or Dasani Water

As we got underway, we had a slight hold prior to taxi and a departure on runway 7. Some neat plane spotting on the way out. We were able to spot the Alaska Airlines Hawaiian Livery with the Hawaiian Lei around Chester at the rear vertical stabilizer, and a Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 320 on the apron at Maui.

Alaska Airlines B737-8 in Hawaiian Livery
Hawaiian Airlines A320 Arriving at OGG

Taking off from Maui:

There were some great views over the North Shore coastline as we climbed to altitude.

Views of the North Shore
North Shore Coast Line
Views of the North Shore Coastline

The Meal: A Full Dinner

Once we were at altitude, printed menus were passed out. It’s nice to see that Alaska Airlines still goes with a printed menu on it’s Hawaiian flights; one of the few routes that it still provides them.

Alaska Airlines First Class Service Menu OGG-BLI

Due to some turbulence, dinner and beverage service took a little time and started about T+60 into the light with the mains being served at about T+90 (4:15 PM Hawaiian Standard Time).

A snack service was offered. A drink with the Alaska Sunrise blend “oat bran, sesame sticks, dried banana chips, and dried cranberries”.

A Chateau St Michelle Chardonnay with the Alaska Sunrise Blend

Today’s appetizer was Wasabi Pea Crusti Ahi with Guacamole, hijiki seaweed salad, warm Hawaiian sweet roll, paired with Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay from Washington. There were some great sunset views while I enjoyed the start of the meal.

Wasabi Pea Crusti Ahi with Guacamole, hijiki seaweed salad, and a warm Hawaiian sweet roll
Sunset Views While we Headed Towards North America

I asked for the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi with beurre blanc sauce but by the time they got to the ninth dinner order, so I ended up with the buffalo seasoned chicken breast, with roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted celery root and carrots, again paired with Chateau St Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay. It was definitely a “pub style” effort different than many other meals that you’d have on a plane.

Buffalo Seasoned Chicken Breast, with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Celery Root and Carrots,

Dessert was a tasty purple Okinawa sweet potato cheesecake. I enjoyed this with a coffee and the Steve Jobs movie on the tablets.

In Flight Entertainment:

As I had I mentioned earlier, Alaska doesn’t have hard wired in flight entertainment, rather they hand out Toshiba Tablets loaded with movies. The tablets are free in first class, they were announced as being $10 to rent in economy.

Dessert and Steve Jobs – The Movie

I ended up watching a little of the movie as we continued with our afternoon flight back to the mainland.

The Second Service: A Snack Basket

In the last ninety minutes of flight, a snack basket round was offered. The choices included Almonds, Kettle Chips, Pop Lite and gourmet popcorn, which was consumed as I worked on the trip report. Admittedly, I got a bit bored with the Steve Jobs Movie.

A Snack from the Snack Basket

The flight passed by really quickly and before we knew it, we were down at the deserted Bellingham airport. There were only three flights left to land at the end of the day and most of the place was pretty buttoned up.

Arriving to Bellingham International Airport

Our bags were out in 10 minutes and another 5 minutes later, we were on the Interstate 5 back up to Canada.

My Thoughts on Alaska Airlines First Class Hawaiian Service:

Overall, Alaska Airlines is a reasonable alternative to other carriers. The service is typically pleasant, the food. is always interesting and the ability to arrive back to the mainland North America on an afternoon flight (as opposed to a red eye flight) is an advantage that can’t be understated. The ability to use smaller Bellingham is also a great alternative to busy Seattle Tacoma International Airport.

If you’ve flown from Hawaii, is the afternoon flight return time slot to the mainland a key advantage for you ?

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