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


Our return segment from Mexico to the United States was on the unusual Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines had just started service between the United States and Mexico City to compliment service to their many other Republic of Mexico Destinations of Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. We had received a complimentary upgrade into First Class courtesy of Alaska Mileage Plan MVP status and earning into their terrific Alaska Mileage Plan frequent flier program.

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, Mexico City International Airport – San Francisco International Airport

After arriving off LATAM Business Class Santiago – Mexico City, we had an 8 hour layover at the Mexico City International Airport. Our check in with Alaska Airlines for this leg didn’t open until well into the afternoon so we had a little extra time to kill off on our layover.

Burning Time on a Mexico City Layover:

After arriving at 7:30 AM, we tried and were unable to access the pre-security American Express Centurion Lounge. Unfortunately the new American Express policy of no more cash entries for $50 each thwarted our entry plans. There was a nice pictographic of all cards available at the front counter and collection of 4 American Express SPG cards (personal and business) we were not among them.

The American Express Centurion Lounge Mexico City

There was no one at the Alaska check in counters and Alaska online check in was not on our side again. Instead we wandered through the terminal until we found the La Maison Restaurant.

Not Great News on the Online Check In Front for Alaska Airlines
Passing by the In Terminal Hilton Airport Hotel
Walking the Corridors of the Mexico City International Airport

Settling in at La Mansion, it was actually a terrific breakfast menu with waiters all in white shirts and ties. We experienced a very un-rushed service as we had scrambled eggs and Jalapeno peppers, tortillas and beans. All for a reasonable price of $7 USD! There was no rushing and they let us sit, with the requisite CDMX handbag table stand, for a full 90 minutes, despite the place filling up slowly during our stay.

Dining at La Mansion at Mexico City International Airport
Scrambled Eggs and Jalapeno Peppers
A Light Bill for Breakfast

In the end, we were able to burn through a long layover without a lounge thanks to some great food offerings available at the airport.


Checking into Alaska Airlines First Class:

We checked in at the Alaska counters where there was an Mexican army of help screening the check in lines. I asked for the Primera line and were shown over with out a forced document check. We were upgraded from economy to First Class courtesy of Alaska MVP status at the 48 hour window.

Alaska Airlines First Class Check In

It was a bit of a slow check in process today as the group of five at the sole counter ahead of us was dealing with an Electronic System for Travel Authorizations. I can’t speak for what nationality they were as Mexico is not part of the US group of countries that normally require an ESTA.

After we were done check in, and having throughly investigated the public side of the airport on our long layover, we decided to head straight through to the secure side. There was no line at international security and we were straight through into the Duty Free labyrinth mayhem with attendants everywhere offering scotch samples to perfume information.

We wandered past the Pay lounges – Visa Infinite was offered. I went up but told it was only accessible for Mexican Visa cards? Another minor strike after the Centurion lounge denial.

We passed on the “pay in” Admirals Club and just wandered toward the gate. It was a very long walk across a disjointed skinny terminal which appeared to be as a result of various add on’s and expansions over the years.

Mexico International Airport Secure Departures Side

We eventually located a larger add on terminal containing the usual Victoria Secret and Tumi stores along with Dufry duty free. We eventually wandered down to a far end at Gate 31.

Wandering through to Gate 31
Arriving to Our Departure Gate 31

While we waited for our flight, there was an interesting video graphic being played on the media boards thanking the citizens of Mexico City for their resilience and assistance during the recent earthquake.

Earthquake Search Effort Video

We were asked to be at the Gate for 14:10 hrs but boarding didn’t start until 14:30 PM. As boarding got underway, I was first in the First Class line behind the wheel chairs and immediately identified for secondary “at the gate” screening. I had a full invasive body pat down and every corner of the bag and laptop bag searched. MrsWT73 didn’t stick around to get called over and headed on board. The security people didn’t seem to interested in searching others as no one else was called over since the searchers were also doing the selecting. I guess I must have looked rogue (laughing).

Alaska Airlines
First Class (U)
MEX-SFO (Mexico Juarez International Terminal One – San Francisco Terminal Two)
AS 241
Oct 18, 2017
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800
Departure: 3:15 PM
Arrival: 5:39 PM

On Board Alaska Airlines First Class:

On board, we settled into the usual Alaska Airlines First Class Seat. The cabin configuration is the usual 2 -2 in First Class with four rows of First Class goodness.

Alaska Airlines First Class

Pre Departure Services:

There was no official Pre-Departure Beverage but water was available on the seat. The staff did not come around with any additional offer of beverages.

The usual Alaska Airlines pre-departure beverages: Dasani water

As we got underway, I overheard the flight attendants preparing the cabin commenting that there were over 50 seats open on the way back.

The Views departing Mexico City:

We had an “on time” push back and quick taxi over to the runway. It was followed by an interesting view on the climb out of MEX. It seemed like urban sprawl with low rise housing everywhere and traffic jams.

Getting Ready to Take Off
Views of Mexico City
A Spread Out Urban Landscape
An Interesting View on the Climb
A Vast Spread Out Horizon

On our climb to altitude, it was a bright and sunny day despite some bumps on the way up.

Unfortunately, there were no pillows, blankets or printed menus today. Alaska going to more international destinations but still acting like a short to mid haul US carrier.


The Meal: A Light Lunch

The meal service on today’s flight was a chicken and quinoa salad. As always on Alaska, this is more of a snack than a full fledged meal. I find that their meal portions are quite tiny.

Chicken and Salad Quinoa

After the lunch, I enjoyed a Gin and Tonic to drink after many days of pisco sours and South American wines. The lighter Gin and Tonic’s were a better choice for me today than the heavy Browne family / Chateau St Michelle wines of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvingon that are usually on board Alaska Airlines First Class.

A Refreshing Gin and Tonic with Biscoff Cookies

We eventually arrived into San Fransisco to the “A” International gates where we departed from. We rolled in approximately 30 minutes late thanks to headwinds, despite departing Mexico approximately 10 minutes early.We arrived into the belly of the SFO arrivals terminal. It was a much larger terminal with “proper” infrastructure than the small outdated hallways of Chile or Mexico city.

We were quickly through with Global Entry. I was quizzed by CBP at the hall exit why I had my SLR camera over my shoulder instead of packed in the bag? “Where you taking pictures in the arrivals hall?” Ahh, just of the baggage belt? =) I offered for him to take a look but he didn’t seem interested. Everyone is touchy these days… Truth be told, I didn’t bring the Lowe Pro case for it on this trip so I had nowhere else to pack it other than on my shoulder.

Passing Through the San Francisco International Arrivals Hall

We exited right over to the connections area outside of the International sterile area. A friendly Alaska connections agent there was unable to take our bag or issue boarding card for the Virgin America flight. For some reason, the Mexico City Alaska check in desk was unable to issue one baggage tag all the way to Vancouver and was only able to bag tag to SFO. “You’ll have to take the blue train up two levels over to terminal 2.” A quick rush over to the Virgin America San Francisco – Seattle since we only had a two hour connection and time was starting to run short.

My Thoughts on Alaska Airlines First Class Mexico Service:

All in all, the international service with Alaska is best compared to that of a short haul carrier. While the drinks were great, the food was pretty tiny. I can’t complain too much as even as a lowly Alaska Airlines Elite MVP, we were able to be upgraded to First Class, which is much better than nothing!

If you’ve flown a short haul narrow body carrier to and from Mexico, did you miss having a wider body jet ?

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