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In January 2017, Alaska Airlines will begin daily commercial service to Havana, Cuba. This year the United States and Cuban government signed a historic agreement that reopened the pathways to regularly scheduled commercial air service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years.

“There’s nowhere I’ve ever been that’s like Cuba,” says Adam Brady, Alaska’s manager of international facilitation, who has traveled to Cuba several times this year in the course of establishing Alaska’s new service. “The thing I love about Cuba is that it’s this blast from the past. You can stay in hotels from the 1940s and see antique cars driving the roads; dine in these really cool, hidden gem restaurants. It’s a really unique culture.”

But before you can steep yourself in that unique culture, you’ll need to do a bit more advance preparation than for many of the other destinations Alaska serves.

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At the age of 17, Caleb Diaz picked up his first camera and has never looked back. As a film student and photographer from Los Angeles, California, Caleb knows how to capture the pure essence and beauty of everything he sees. He just returned from an Instagram takeover in Mammoth Lakes, California as part of Alaska Airlines’ Weekend Wanderer series. For more Weekend Wanderer posts, make sure you’re following Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

Have you ever spent three days exploring a new town with a near stranger? This weekend I did just that.

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Many people are familiar with self-checkout at the grocery store – it can be a speedy and simple option when there are long lines or when purchasing just a few items. Imagine that ability, but with bags at the airport. Alaska Airlines is bringing this technology to the Los Angeles International Airport by piloting a “Scan and Fly” self-bag-drop process that started this week.

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Don’t call it hiking. That was the first thing I learned about hiking in the Scottish Highlands. It’s hill walking. Don’t forget it.

“Hill walking! It makes more sense, love. It’s just walking in hills. Why do you Americans need another word for it?” a coffee barista in Edinburgh corrected me when I told her I planned to begin hiking the next day.

I’m not sure why my friend Glynnis agreed to come along when I told her my plans to hike through the Scottish Highlands a week shy of my 36th birthday. Hill walking in one of the least sparsely populated regions of Europe seemed to offer just the right amount of adventure for two girls looking to escape the busyness of work and city life for a little while. I’d just finished writing a book and had given it over to my editor. Glynnis was just starting one. We desperately needed to be somewhere without our computers, even for a few days.

“It will be like Little House on the Prairie meets Brigadoon,” I’d offered as a way of making it seem more appealing to my friend.

“Both of those stories eventually had a happy ending!” Glynnis replied cautiously. “Kind of.”

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Kent Brooten will never forget the moment he hit one million miles on an Alaska Airlines flight.

Two and a half years ago, as he was flying from Seattle to Los Angeles after a visit with his fiancé, the pilot came on the intercom with this message “We are 227 south of Seattle. The person sitting in seat 3d has just reached one million miles.”

Brooten made sure to document that moment.

“I recorded it on my iPhone of course,” he said. The model Alaska Boeing-737 aircraft that Booten received to commemorate the milestone still sits on his desk.

Brooten became a Mileage Plan member 33 years ago, and today has 1,331,597 miles in his account – hard earned by a job that took him across the United States and a passion for climbing mountains that took him across the globe.

He is one of eight Mileage Plan members featured in Alaska’s latest ad campaign – a thank you to loyal fliers – which focuses on the draws of Alaska’s frequent flier program.

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By Albert Rodriguez for Alaska Beyond Magazine

On a cold, drizzly February evening outside Neumos, a small concert venue in Seattle’s buzzing Capitol Hill neighborhood, 500 fans stood in line for hours to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. It was a tiny crowd in comparison to the nearly 50,000 who attended the three sold-out concerts at Seattle Center’s KeyArena in 2013, when the hip-hop duo closed out an extensive world tour in their own backyard. But the Neumos show was an unexpected treat—a free bonus show for hometown fans that had been kept under wraps until just two days beforehand. The concert was streamed globally via Amazon Music to celebrate the release of the album “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.” But for those who packed the floor of Neumos, it was a chance to share a few relatively intimate moments with one of the hottest acts in hip-hop.

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This week, Horizon Air is celebrating the 35th anniversary of its inaugural flight on Sept. 1, 1981.

Although Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines remain separately managed to this day, the two companies have been closely linked for nearly 30 years.

Both are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group, and all Horizon flights are marketed and sold by Alaska. Since 2011, Horizon’s Q400 aircraft have featured Alaska’s familiar livery with the Eskimo on the tail.

“Horizon has a strong legacy in the Northwest and beyond because of our exceptional delivery of service and the great people who make it happen seamlessly and safely every day,” says Dave Campbell, Horizon president and CEO. “Our growth over the years is something all of our team members should be extremely proud of, and as a member of the Alaska Air Group family I’m greatly looking forward to the coming years at Horizon. To our customers, I’d like to say thank you for your continued loyalty. It truly is our privilege to serve you.”

A new way of doing things

Passengers board Horizon Air's first flight in 1981.

Passengers board Horizon Air’s first flight in 1981.

When it launched in 1981, Horizon was one of hundreds of new air carriers to pop up around this time in response to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Many large airlines discontinued shorter routes across the U.S. in response to the act, creating a gap in the market that many people were eager to fill. One of those people was entrepreneur Milt Kuolt.

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Based out of San Jose, California, Wayne Nguyen is a travel and landscape photographer who has an eye for capturing extraordinary moments through his lens. He just returned from an Instagram takeover in Edmonton, Alberta as part of Alaska Airlines’ Weekend Wanderer series. For more Weekend Wanderer posts, make sure you’re following Alaska Airlines on Instagram.
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Flying can be a stressful experience. It’s even tougher when you’re responsible for other people, especially if those people are small children. To help ease the stress of your travel day, here are a few useful tips.

Before travel

Reserve seats early

For large families or parties with small children, getting everyone together can be a challenge, so make sure you reserve your seats as soon as you book your flight. If you book through a third party or online travel agency, double-check that your seat requests are confirmed by navigating to alaskaair.com, then clicking on the “Manage” tab on the homepage.

Read more: How to snag a better seat on the airplane.

If you don’t reserve your seats in advance, they will be assigned by a computer program, taking into account the many rules surrounding where children and infants are allowed to sit. On full flights, this can result in families being split up if they haven’t reserved their seats in advance.

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Ever wonder about the white cheese featured in Alaska Airlines’ Signature Fruit and Cheese Platter, and where you can get it? This is how a Seattle shop began selling 100,000 pounds of locally-made cheese to Alaska every year.

What was Seattle missing before 2002? According to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese founder Kurt Beecher Dammeier, a hometown artisan cheese shop. Which was the void Dammeier aimed to fill when he acquired a space at Pike Place Market in 2002.

“I didn’t even know if it was legal to make cheese there when I bought the place,” Dammeier said.

About a year later, he opened Beecher’s and nearly every day since, the corner store has been full of locals and tourists enjoying everything from cheese curds to rich and comforting mac and cheese.

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