Review: Alaska Airlines First Class B737-8, San Francisco – Mexico City


Alaska Airlines was an unusual choice to fly from the United States to Mexico City. We ended up using them thanks to the use of a companion fare, a complimentary upgrade into First Class courtesy of Alaska Mileage Plan MVP status and earning into their terrific Alaska Mileage Plan frequent flier program. Our travels to Mexico City had a few bumps along the way. Read on to see how we fared on this unique segment.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Mexico City, Mexico and Easter Island, Chile. This trip was enhanced through Alaska Mileage Plan and through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. 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, San Francisco International Airport – Mexico City International Airport

We purchased this ticket in regular economy class and were upgraded to First Class at the 48 hr upgrade window courtesy of Alaska MVP status.

We had spent the night earlier at the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel. After we had set the alarm for 6:15 AM and had gotten up and showered, I got a flight tracker notification that the flight had been delayed from 9:55 AM to 11:20 AM. Darn. Having finally gotten to bed at 1:30 AM, there’s nothing worse than a quick turn around and then a delay on a morning flight. We could have spent the additional time sleeping. =/

We took the shuttle bus back to the SFO International Terminal. We had thought about staying a little longer at the hotel to use the room but decided we would respect the initial check in baggage cut off time and get to the airport for 8:55 AM one hour before flight check in cut off. It’s a good thing we did as the check in at the airport was mostly dead after the cut off.

Arriving to San Francisco International Airport
Checking in at Alaska Airlines First Class

There was a large Mexican family checking in at the First Class line up which seemed to take a bit of time.

Checking in Behind a Large Group

The San Francisco International Terminal is one of my favourite air terminals in the USA. It’s bright and beautiful and a nice place to be. After check in, we wandered down to the secure side of the aircraft terminal in order to wait for our departure.

Unfortunately, Alaska’s “on time performance” on this particular trip continued to let us down. There was a flight delay after flight delay posted; first at 12:20, then at 12:48 PM for a total delay time of 2 hrs and 53 minutes. Worried about cancellations, when I checked at the kiosk to find out what was happening, I was told it was “ATC” delays here in SFO. So far, a total of 19 minutes (YVR flight) + 21 minutes (SEA flight) + 2hrs 53 minutes on our outbound legs alone.

While we waited out the flight delays, there wasn’t much to do in this part of the International Terminal “A” Gates. There were lots of lounges, but none of them we had access to. We were not Priority Pass members at the time of this trip and Alaska doesn’t typically include lounge access with a First Class fare.

San Francisco International “A” Gates Departure Lounges
Waiting to get ready to go

After we had been delayed about 3 hours, Alaska Airlines handed out food vouchers for everyone. We received $24 USD person. As a result, we went for a lunch at one of the grill restaurants at the end of the terminal. There wasn’t much to do other than plane spot while we waited. . .

An Arriving Korean Air Boeing 777
A Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 330-300
Waiting at Gate A1B

We finally got on board at 12:30 PM. It was a quick loading and everyone was on board really quickly.

Alaska Airlines
First Class (U)
SFO-MEX (San Franciso Airport – Mexico City)
AS 240
Oct 9, 2017
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800
Departure: 9:55 AM
Arrival: 4:20 PM

On Board Alaska Airlines First Class:

The Alaska Airlines First Class seats were the usual Alaska First Class blue leather seats. It’s not the most comfortable seat out there but far better than being in the back. The Mexico route appears to have very few Alaska elites.

Alaska Airlines First Class
Alaska Airlines First Class
Alaska Airlines Last Row of First Class

Pre Departure Services:

There was a small bottle of Dasani Water on the seat. As with other times, Alaska does not do a pre-departure beverage like the other mainland carriers such as Delta Airlines or American Airlines.

The Only Pre-Departure Services today; bottled water

We taxied out toward takeoff. There was an Air France A380 that was re-positioning to the A gates. Huge!!

We had a climb with a quick view of the California coast before we got underway on our SE heading.

California Coastline Views
California Coastal Views through Alaska Boeing Winglets

Once airborne, a round of drinks was served. I opted for a chardonnay white wine.

Chardonnay & Sparkling as a Pre-Meal Drink
Biscoff Cookies and a Lonely Planet Mexico

The Meal: A Full Breakfast

For this flight, breakfast was also served as the meal. Since it was a morning flight that was supposed to depart at 10 AM, it was morning breakfast catering despite it being about 1 PM now. The choices were egg frittata (with pork sausages) or cereal. This was served with a side of fruit. The flight attendant admitted that the ground operations forgot to send the plates with the catering and it was going to be another 30 minute wait for the plates so they just left for Mexico without them. A bit of an embarrassing picnic presentation but after a 4 hour wait, who’s splitting hairs?

Breakfast in First: Uniquely on Picnic Catering Trays

I slept for a little while and tried to spot the border with Mexico. I was not super successful, instead glancing at large arid topography.


Arriving to Mexico City:

Eventually, we had a twisty and bumpy descent into Mexico City. There was lots of urban sprawl to look at out the window on our descent.

Our First Glances of Mexico City D.F.
Mexico City Skyline
Never Ending Buildings
Elevated Freeways

Once on the ground, we taxied to a very rough and out of date airport that felt like Latin America. I spotted the defunct Mexicana hangars and Interjet, the new Mexican upstart carrier that’s now flying non stop Mexico City to Vancouver.

Old Mexicana Hangars and Volaris Jets
Interjet Services

As with other travellers, it was long and bureaucratic process to get the Mexican tourist cards signed. We waited about 20 minutes to get through the immigration check point. We had a quick walk through Duty Free on Arrival but didn’t get anything.

We met our driver for the W Mexico Cirty, which was arranged via the hotel. He transferred us over to the hotel in a Nissan Altima and an old one at that; at least 10 years old!! I think this was a downgrade from the promised Lincoln Towncar but what can you do about it now?? It sort of punctuated the day in that funny way when nothing went exactly right . .

We later got an automated apologetic email from Alaska with a $100 discount code per person for the major four hour flight delay. It was a nice gesture on their part. It was not too generous but a lot more generous than the useless 5% discount codes that Air Canada has been providing over the years. In summary, we were happy that our Alaska leg had come to an end. And that’s not something that I usually find myself saying. . .

My Thoughts on Alaska Airlines First Class Mexico Service:

Our trip to Mexico City with Alaska Airlines was a pretty bumpy one. It took a few delays and an overnight to get us there. Having said that, the Alaska crews were reasonably pleasant about it. The plane was catered and we ended up getting there in the end in First Class.

If you’ve ever experienced a massive flight delay with Alaska Airlines, did they handle it in a reasonable manner ?

3 Comments on “Review: Alaska Airlines First Class B737-8, San Francisco – Mexico City

  1. I have never flown Alaskan Airlines (I exclusively fly Delta right now), but Alaskan Airlines also comes up as a pet friendly airlines that allows pet birds to travel in cabin with passengers. I’ve never flown with them as I said, but I wonder if they might serve as an alternative for Delta, particularly for locations that Delta doesn’t service. So, I was wondering, in your experience, does Alaskan Airlines tend to be delayed often, or was this just a one time thing?


    • Thanks for reading Andie.

      Most of my delays with Alaska Airlines have been mostly departing from Seattle Tacoma. I’m not convinced this is exactly Alaska Airlines’ issue; as they always board their aircraft early, and have crews that are prompt and motivated for on time departures. Most of my experience with delays have been as a result of ATC or other runway issues at high traffic airports like Seattle or fog with San Francisco. This is something that can impact any carrier, including Delta in similar conditions.

      I’d have no issues recommending Alaska Airlines and tend to fly them quite regularly.

      Liked by 1 person

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