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Alaska Airlines First Class Review: Is it Worth Paying Extra?

When I booked my first-ever flight with Alaska Airlines, I noticed that trading up to first class on my return flight from Seattle to Anchorage would only cost an extra couple of hundred dollars. Considering that the flight is 3 1/2 hours each way, it seemed sensible to pay extra to fly first class on Alaska Airlines.

Here is my Alaska Airlines first-class review, which will let you know whether or not that was a good decision.

alaska plane

Alaska Airlines First Class Review: The Basics

The key selling point for Alaska Airlines first class is that it has the most legroom of any US domestic airline with an impressive 41-inch pitch. The other key benefits are:

-Check-in two complimentary bags. Each can weigh up 32 kg
-Free beer, wine and cocktails
-Expedited check-in
-Express security screening at selected airports
-Priority boarding
-Complimentary meals can be pre-ordered
-Dedicated first-class attendant
-Lounge access when the flight is over 2,100 miles. If your flight is less than 2,100 miles a day pass can be purchased for USD$30
-Alaska Airlines is a member of the One World Alliance. Unlike many other US airlines, Alaska awards one point for each mile flown. First-class flights receive a minimum 50% mileage bonus.

First Class Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800/900 Seattle to Anchorage

Seattle-Tacoma Airport Check-In

Despite the name, Seattle is Alaska Airlines’ hometown. They are located on the C Concourse. Not only is there priority boarding for first-class Alaska Airlines passengers, but there is also a separate area. I was given a pass for a fast-track security lane, but it didn’t appear to move any faster than the non-fast-track security queue.

alaska airlines check in seattle airport
Alaska Airlines check-in Seattle airport

Seattle-Tacoma Alaska Airlines Lounge

The central Alaska Airlines lounge at Seattle Tacoma airport was closed for renovations when I visited. The airline has two other lounges, so I visited the one near Gate C16. When I arrived, I was told that my flight didn’t meet the 2,100-mile distance criteria for admission to the Alaska Airlines lounge (to get a sense of the distance you would need to fly from Anchorage to past Texas in the United States to hit the distance required).

alaska lounge seattle airport
Alaska lounge Seattle airport

Luckily, this rule had only been implemented recently and I was allowed into the lounge. I found out later it is now possible to purchase a lounge pass for USD$30 if flying first class on an Alaska Airlines flight traveling fewer than 2100 miles.

alaska lounge seattle airport inside

The lounge at Seattle Aiport was okay but nothing special, although it did have a lovely water feature. The coffee machine was broken, but they allowed customers to get coffee from the bar. The wifi was quite powerful. Overall, unless you have quite a bit of time or it is evening and you would like a couple of alcoholic drinks I don’t think it would be worth paying for the day pass.

Alaska Airlines First Class Lounges are located at the following airports:

  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC)
alaska lounge seattle food
Alaska lounge Seattle food

As soon as the flight started boarding, I was able to hop on board. I noticed other passengers were being told to check their carry-on bags, but I was exempted from this as a first-class passenger, which was nice.

You might enjoy reading my premium economy flight reviews:
British Airways Premium Economy Review
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review
American Airlines Premium Economy Review
Delta Premium Economy Review

On Board Alaska Airlines First Class

In my opinion, the best thing about flying Alaska Airlines first class was the seats. The seats are 20 inches wide and have a 41-inch pitch. The seats are made from very comfortable Recaro leather and have a generous recline.

alaska first c;lass seat

The cabin layout for first-class Alaska is 2 x 2. The first four rows are first class. I felt that the amount of legroom was very generous, and it also felt like there was a good deal of room between me and my neighbor.

alaska first class seat

The console between the two seats had a small area that easily fit a couple of drinks and snacks – always nice if you don’t have to unfold the main table while enjoying a drink. The tray table could be folded in half.

alaska first power point

The power socket was underneath the seat and included a USB charger. It was, of course, located in an awkward position low down between the two seats in the console.

alaska first leg room

There is no flatbed option in Alaska Airlines first class, but as noted earlier, the 41-inch pitch is the best in the US domestic market.

alaska first drink

The overhead bin was very roomy, particularly in light of the reduced number of passengers with the 2 x 2 configuration. One of my biggest irritants when flying domestically in the US is the stress around finding space for a carry-on bag. It was lovely to not have this issue.

Our friendly, dedicated hostess took our food and drink orders before the flight left the ground, which was quite impressive. My lunch was served on a nice wooden tray which felt like I was in a cute cafe rather than on a plane.

Lunch consisted of a delicious jerk chicken with rice, salad, and a fancy bread roll. The service throughout the flight was very attentive.

alaska first meal

There are no seatback televisions in Alaska’s first class. Passengers can access a large range of free movies and tv on their devices. Or it is possible to pay for a flight streaming and messaging pass for just USD$8. I paid for the wifi, and it was excellent.

The bathroom for first class was at the front of the plane and was nothing special. The benefit is only having to share it with a maximum of 15 other passengers and crew.

First Class Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 Anchorage to Seattle

Anchorage Airport Alaska Airlines First Class Check-in

Unsurprisingly first-class and elite passengers have their dedicated check-in area at Anchorage airport. I couldn’t use the first-class lounge at Alaska Airport as the flight didn’t meet the distance criteria. However, there are quite a few good options for eating and drinking at Anchorage Airport. I was on a morning flight and had a very tasty breakfast at Norton Sound Seafood House.

alaska airlines anchorage check in
alaska airlines anchorage check in

Alaska First Class Onboard

I was exhausted, so I had booked a window seat for a potential in-flight nap. I was delighted to discover that this also gave me amazing views over Alaska. I happened to be flying on a crystal clear day and could see the Turnagain Arm and Portage Lake. I had outstanding views of both.

flying out of anchorage airport

The in-flight service was excellent on the return flight as well. Our hostess even went to the trouble of learning everyone’s first name and then using them.

You might enjoy reading some of my business class reviews: Air France Business Class Review, Virgin Atlantic Business Class Review, Emirates Business Class Review, Thai Airways Business Class Review, Malaysian Airlines Business Class Review, Qatar Airways Business Class Review, Iberia Airlines Business Class Review and Swiss Air Business Class Review.

alaska first way back chairs alaska airlines first class review

Alaska Airlines First Class Verdict

I would definitely fly first class with Alaska Airlines again. I would struggle to justify the cost premium on anything under a two-hour flight, but once the flight time hits three hours, the extra cost is definitely worth the excellent in-flight experience as well as the priority boarding, check-in etc etc.

Having said that, my return flight from Seattle to Anchorage, three 1/2 hours each way, was USD$ 350 for a return economy fare. I paid USD$700 to fly first class. If the cost had been, say, USD$1000, I think I would have needed the flight to be at least five hours long to find it good value.

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Tony N

Saturday 3rd of June 2023

Food and flying? No, they don't mix for me. I take Alaska for a 2 hour flight and would never pay for anything more.

Bruce Scott

Friday 2nd of June 2023

FYI, The lounge you visited at SEA is near the C-16 gate, not B-16. Alaska uses the C, D, and N gates as well as a few B and S gates. Alaska operates lounges at SEA, ANC, PDX, SFO, LAX, and JFK. The plane you were likely on was a 737-900. The smaller planes have 3 rows in first class. Cheers!

Amanda OBrien

Friday 2nd of June 2023

Thanks Bruce! Not sure how I got my Cs and Ds confused! And I went back and checked my photos and you are right - the safety card was for a 737-800/900. thanks for letting me know!

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