Kudos: Alaska Airlines Leads The Way With Restoring Inflight Service

Kudos: Alaska Airlines Leads The Way With Restoring Inflight Service

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During the pandemic we saw most airlines cut inflight service to minimize contact between passengers and crew (for example, here’s my review of an April 2021 Alaska Airlines first class flight).

In mid-May, Alaska Airlines began to restore service in both first class and economy class, and now the airline will be taking it a step further, and is immediately restoring more service. Stuff will start to look a lot like it did pre-pandemic. Alaska Airlines is calling its inflight offerings “the most comprehensive onboard food and beverage program of any US airline.”

Alaska Airlines’ updated first class service

With the latest update, Alaska Airlines first class passengers can expect:

  • Full tray service meals on flights of 670-1,099 miles, including Schoenwald porcelain and compostable linen and silverware
  • Hot meals on mainline flights of 1,100+ miles that are over breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours, with the choice of three dishes (with the fruit & cheese plate being one of them)

Here are some of the hot meals you can expect to see on the rotating seasonal menu:

  • Guajillo Chile-Lime Salad with ancient grains, roasted broccoli and sweet potato with a roasted lemon crema
  • Miso Marinated Cod with sesame garlic farro, sauteed yu choy, bell peppers and shitake mushrooms in a sesame-miso butter sauce
Hot meals are returning to Alaska Airlines flights of 1,100+ miles

For context, prior to this change Alaska Airlines has been serving hot meals on transcon and Hawaii flights, a “Fresh Meal Box” on flights of 1,100+ miles, and a light snack on flights of 670-1,099 miles.

With the change back in May, Alaska Airlines already resumed a full drink service in first class, including soft drinks, beer, wine, liquor, coffee, and tea.

Alaska Airlines is continuing to offer meal pre-ordering in first class. Between two weeks and one hour prior to departure, guests can choose from the onboard meal options, or can select a fruit & cheese platter instead.

Alaska Airlines’ updated economy service

In Premium Class (Alaska Airlines’ extra legroom economy section) and economy class, things are looking a whole lot like they did pre-pandemic:

  • On flights of 400+ miles there will be a full beverage service, Starbucks Coffee, Teavana Tea, individual cans of soda, craft beer, West Coast wines, and premium spirits; alcohol is complimentary in Premium Class, and available for purchase in economy class
  • On flights of 679+ miles, customers can purchase snacks, including picnic packs
  • On flights of 1,100+ miles, customers can purchase freshly prepared wraps or a fruit & cheese plate
  • All food can be pre-ordered between 14 days and one hour prior to departure, to avoid having to provide a payment method onboard, and to ensure you get your first choice; alternatively, customers can pay onboard with a credit card, or by storing a credit card in their itinerary
Alaska Airlines’ fruit & cheese plate

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines is leading the way among US airlines when it comes to restoring inflight service. Alaska Airlines’ inflight experience now looks very similar to how it did pre-coronavirus. There’s not another US airline offering meals in first class on so many flights, and economy service is also more or less what it was pre-coronavirus.

What do you make of Alaska Airlines fully restoring inflight service?

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  1. En

    Hawaiian airline has been providing free meals for all passengers. economies -sandwiches +, snacks
    First class - hot meals (2 meals for > 8 hours
    flights) and snackes
    So Alaska airline is not leading all airlines!!

  2. Apso Eyot

    Wait - the first-class benefits do sure sound great, but just wondering, are there any Alaska flights where their premium class (extra-legroom economy) and economy passengers would get a complimentary hot meal, similar to those ones you’d get on full-service long haul flights? Like, even on those relatively long transcon or Hawaii routes, would you get anything for free besides some kind of snack bag and a drink (non-alcoholic for economy) in those two classes?

  3. GLCTraveler

    Sounds great.... Thx for review.
    Akaska FC food rocks.

    INS Vikrant is an idiot....

  4. Tim Dunn

    First, nobody can realistically believe that a sandwich versus a hot meal is going to make a difference in the future of any airline. Financial future is determined by revenue, costs, and balance sheet. Second, Delta gets a substantial revenue premium to the rest of the industry which results into the awards it gets. They managed to win the JD Power award with no domestic catering for last year.
    Third, all of the big...

    First, nobody can realistically believe that a sandwich versus a hot meal is going to make a difference in the future of any airline. Financial future is determined by revenue, costs, and balance sheet. Second, Delta gets a substantial revenue premium to the rest of the industry which results into the awards it gets. They managed to win the JD Power award with no domestic catering for last year.
    Third, all of the big three are operating international widebody aircraft on domestic routes. Delta, which is Alaska’s largest direct competitor, operates dozens of domestic international flights where Alaska is offering a standard first class seat. I can assure you that most Premium passengers would prefer a lie flat bed or even premium economy over a sandwich versus a hot meal.
    Finally, all of the big three would far rather be flying their widebody jets on international routes and serving hot meals to all of their passengers. Given the bottlenecks and logistics and everything else in the economy right now, it makes far more sense for Delta to make sure that it can fully cater its international flights when that opportunity arises. The difference between a hot Meal and a sandwich simply won’t make a difference all other things being equal.
    I am glad Alaska is offering hot food but let’s keep it in perspective

  5. Eric

    I don't understand why Dfwguy praises Delta so much since they are the only US legacy airline that has no intention to bring back hot meals. I also can't understand why won't anyone call them out for their disgraceful first class "catering" while AA and UA were - rightly - under scrutiny for eliminating hot meal service during the pandemic. Why does Delta enjoy an elite treatment from travel bloggers while offering worse product than...

    I don't understand why Dfwguy praises Delta so much since they are the only US legacy airline that has no intention to bring back hot meals. I also can't understand why won't anyone call them out for their disgraceful first class "catering" while AA and UA were - rightly - under scrutiny for eliminating hot meal service during the pandemic. Why does Delta enjoy an elite treatment from travel bloggers while offering worse product than any other competitor? Do they have a special privilege or something like that?

    1. Tim Dunn

      maybe because it is your double standard that says one company can "rightly" eliminate something that others also do but you don't think that is right?
      The reason Delta got it right during the pandemic is because they realized that food isn't that important during a pandemic. Space was most important followed by reliability.
      Given that Delta managed to win the JD Powers award plus the usual ones they regularly win is proof...

      maybe because it is your double standard that says one company can "rightly" eliminate something that others also do but you don't think that is right?
      The reason Delta got it right during the pandemic is because they realized that food isn't that important during a pandemic. Space was most important followed by reliability.
      Given that Delta managed to win the JD Powers award plus the usual ones they regularly win is proof that the paying public sees things differently than you do - and in Delta's favor.
      American and United's future existence won't come down to hot meals or not - Southwest doesn't and won't serve plated food. The survival and success of carriers is determined by how well each company runs their businesses and a revenue advantage combined with cost control is most definitely something that Delta has figured out how to do and the pandemic shows that has only grown. AS and WN do the same things very well.

      And please let us know when you received a memo that Delta doesn't ever plan to return hot food to first class.

    2. Eric

      I think you misunderstood me. What I wanted to say is that AA's, DL's and UA's service cuts were pathetic but somehow only AA and UA were criticized for it. In my opinion, it is not fair to criticize only AA and UA. It's hilarious to say that because Alaska restores real meal service, Alaska and Delta will be around 10-15 years from now. Why the hell would be Delta around 10-15 years from now...

      I think you misunderstood me. What I wanted to say is that AA's, DL's and UA's service cuts were pathetic but somehow only AA and UA were criticized for it. In my opinion, it is not fair to criticize only AA and UA. It's hilarious to say that because Alaska restores real meal service, Alaska and Delta will be around 10-15 years from now. Why the hell would be Delta around 10-15 years from now when they do the opposite what Alaska does. I just can't follow Dfwguy's logic.

    3. dfwguy

      it's not the food......it's the corporate culture... which shows us who will survive 15 years from now.
      AA and UA don't have the corporate culture to survive another 10-15 years. AA and UA have cultivated a top-to-bottom culture that frankly has disdain their customer base. I stand by my prediction that AA and UA will go away leaving SW DL AS and a bunch of ULCC's.

    4. Eric

      Regarding the last question, I didn't but actions speak louder than words and Delta started offering sandwiches in first - the same sandwiches UA offered a few months ago so this is a statement for me that they are not planning to restore meals at least in the close future.

      Btw, I don't have any problem with Delta. They are just as mediocre as their competitors just they are weak at different things, e.g....

      Regarding the last question, I didn't but actions speak louder than words and Delta started offering sandwiches in first - the same sandwiches UA offered a few months ago so this is a statement for me that they are not planning to restore meals at least in the close future.

      Btw, I don't have any problem with Delta. They are just as mediocre as their competitors just they are weak at different things, e.g. catering and you probably have heard how long you have to wait if you call Delta's customer service.
      They are not better or worse than UA, AS or AA, but for me meal service is a crucial part of premium cabin experience and I will definitely try to avoid flying them until they restore hot meals.

  6. Scott

    I hope they extend status like Delta

  7. BRMM

    Yes! Flew ORD-SFO this week and was pleasantly surprised with a hot meal (the miso cod, mentioned in the post), on china! Nice meal, too. Didn’t have glassware, but had full alcohol service. A great flight.

  8. Dfwguy

    And this is why Alaska and Delta (and Southwest) will be around 10-15 years from now. American and United will go the way of Eastern, Pan Am, TWA, etc.

  9. Tim Dunn

    Alaska is a well-run airline but many other larger airlines, Delta excepted, are running horrible operations. Alaska is a niche airline and is much more capable of delivering what they promise - but in a world where every basic function of modern living is less reliable and more subject to failure, it isn't a surprise that other airlines are making decisions to not try to add complication.
    Good for Alaska in believing that they...

    Alaska is a well-run airline but many other larger airlines, Delta excepted, are running horrible operations. Alaska is a niche airline and is much more capable of delivering what they promise - but in a world where every basic function of modern living is less reliable and more subject to failure, it isn't a surprise that other airlines are making decisions to not try to add complication.
    Good for Alaska in believing that they can create a competitive advantage by returning to a high-quality product but the vast majority of passengers would far see better on-time performance and fewer cancellations from their airlines.

  10. Bill n DC

    Wow good timing for my Late September Oregon Getaway DCA-PDX

    Who should I earn miles with??

    1. GLCTraveler

      50% Elite bonus through Sept 30th.... choose AS.

  11. Elk Archer

    Just flew SLC - SEA and had the Guajillo Chile-Lime Salad and it was AMAZING!! I am an admitted meat-a-holic and I didn't miss the protein a single millisecond.
    Hats off to Alaska Airlines!! Well done!!

    1. GLCTraveler

      Sounds great.... Thx for review.
      Akaska FC food rocks.

      INS Vikrant is an idiot....

  12. Jason

    Flying in first next week MCI>SEA. Have three options: Carmalized Onion Fritatta, Marinated Kale Breakfast Bowl, and Fruit and Cheese Plate. They all sound delicious from the description.

    1. GLCTraveler

      Had the Frittata yesterday on BWI-SEA and it was great choice!!

  13. Greg

    Bravo its' time they all realize with less 'OPM' paying for premium cabin they need to step up the differentiation and food / beverage even beyond early 2020 levels

  14. SHane

    Not up and running yet. Just showed them my reservations for today and another upcoming one and still can't pre-order. They said they
    d "look into that"

    1. David W

      I flew SEA-JFK round trip a week ago and I had a hot meal in First on JFK-SEA. I had an early morning flight to JFK but i cant remember the specific meal i was served. Trays, porcelain dishes, silverware was all used for both flights though.

    2. INS Vikrant

      Typical alaska air amateur IT

Featured Comments Load all 24 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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En

Hawaiian airline has been providing free meals for all passengers. economies -sandwiches +, snacks First class - hot meals (2 meals for > 8 hours flights) and snackes So Alaska airline is not leading all airlines!!

dfwguy

it's not the food......it's the corporate culture... which shows us who will survive 15 years from now. AA and UA don't have the corporate culture to survive another 10-15 years. AA and UA have cultivated a top-to-bottom culture that frankly has disdain their customer base. I stand by my prediction that AA and UA will go away leaving SW DL AS and a bunch of ULCC's.

dfwguy

Tim sums it up beautiflly.

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