“You’re brave,” a teenaged boy with elaborate dreadlocks and a tattoo of a dinosaur told me as I hoofed it up one of the steeper sections of the hike to Hanakapi’ai beach along the Na Pali Coast.

I shot him a smile. “Oh this is nothing,” I bowed my head with false modesty.

The truth is I was proud of myself for making the relatively difficult four-mile in-and-out trek while six months pregnant and I wanted all the high fives I was getting on that trail. My husband Nick laughed behind me, content to allow me to bask in my pregnant lady glory.

We flew to Kauai, the furthest west of the Hawaiian islands open to the public because we wanted a vacation that would offer at least a little adventure—the kind a pregnant lady can safely get into and out of. This was our “babymoon,” a relatively ridiculous word first coined by an anthropologist in the nineties and popularized by tabloid magazines exploiting celebrity baby bump photos in exotic locations in the 2000s. I was once one of those magazine editors. The word might even be my fault.

But the celebritized babymoon ideal of floating in a pool while my husband enjoyed real alcoholic beverages and the delights of a piping hot Jacuzzi held little appeal for me. I wanted a real vacation, the kind we took before I was pregnant, the kind where I could still do things.

Kauai doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Nick and I spent four long days hiking, snorkeling, sailing and swimming in hidden beaches found at the end of long dirt roads. And no one loves pregnant ladies like the Hawaiians. It’s true that Kauai’s residents are among some of the friendliest people on Earth and they bend over backwards for all visitors, pregnant women in particular. Several times each day I was made to feel like a queen, or Beyoncé.

More Kauai: 5 must-do’s on Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island

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Four months after merging, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America guests are seeing more and more benefits. Today, the combined company announced big growth at Dallas Love Field with four new daily nonstop routes to the West Coast.

New, daily nonstop flights to Seattle; San Diego; Portland, Oregon; and San Jose, California will be operated using the Embraer 175 jet. A second daily, nonstop flight to Seattle will be operated by Virgin America using an Airbus 320 family aircraft. Both airplanes offer three classes of service and are equipped with Free Chat, free movies, premium food and beverages, Wi-Fi and advance seat selection.

“The beauty of operating as a combined company is that we have more fleet flexibility, and can customize our offerings with the right size of airplane in the right market,” says John Kirby, Alaska’s vice president of network planning.

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Some travelers earn elite status by accident, a byproduct of traveling for work. Other people are tempted by the possibility of upgrades and bonus miles and do everything they can to qualify. Whichever camp you fall into, Alaska Mileage Plan has some unique benefits that go over and above the competition. By familiarizing yourself with some of these perks you can earn more miles and potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars each year.

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Juan Flores, a born and raised Hoosier, has lived in Indianapolis, IN for a decade now. During that time, he earned his BFA in visual communication design while picking up photography as a creative side project. Fast forward to today, he is a social media manager for a local camera store, which he uses his technical and informal skills to capture Indiana through his point of view. Take his upbringing near Lake Michigan with a fond love for architecture, he documents the natural and architectural landscape that this city has to offer. He recently took over the Alaska Airlines Instagram account as a “Local Wanderer” as a part of Alaska’s Weekend Wanderer series.

Happy Monday! I am taking over the @AlaskaAir IG the next few days to showcase my favorite areas around Indy and central Indiana. Come juander along // #localwanderer

Happy Monday! I am taking over the @AlaskaAir IG the next few days to showcase my favorite areas around Indy and central Indiana. Come juander along.

Six must-visit spots in and around Indianapolis:

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Alaska Airlines “super fans” are easy to spot. They can be found carrying around their very own mini plane, or glued to the window trying to capture a photo of the airplane’s winglets. They can be overheard talking with a flight attendant like they are longtime friends, or saying, “I love Alaska Airlines!” when seated at an airport bar. They are experts on Mileage Plan, inflight amenities and the pancake machine at the Alaska Lounge.

The feeling of love is mutual – are you an Alaska Airlines super fan?

You know you’re an Alaska Airlines superfan when…

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Imagine arriving at the airport and immediately feeling welcomed to a fresh, modern experience.

You know you’ll reach your destination on time with minimal hassle, and the airline you’ve chosen offers consistently low fares and more nonstop flights to more destinations from the West Coast than any other. At your gate, you can’t help Shazaming every song on the upbeat playlist, and the overhead announcements tell you what you need to know with a healthy dose of fun.

On the plane, you make your way to a comfortable leather seat in a mood-lit cabin. For the next three hours, you’ll enjoy fresh, West Coast-inspired food and drinks; Free Chat with friends and family on the ground via iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp; and all the free movies you have time to watch. Not to mention the personal power outlets throughout the cabin, so your devices arrive at your destination as ready for adventure as you are.

Your airline is unconventional, just like you are.

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March 16, 2017 update:

The surgery to transplant a kidney from Alaska Airlines Captain Jodi Harskamp to Flight Attendant Jenny Stansel was performed successfully Monday at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and both women are well on their way to recovery.

Following the four-hour surgery, the women’s conditions were listed as satisfactory and they were both able to walk around the hospital together Tuesday morning. Their recovery rooms are next to each other.

They both reported being in great spirits and were enjoying having their families there.

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From the winter wonderland of Anchorage, Alaska comes Bex Farleigh. Scrolling through her Instagram feed is no problem as she showcases the adventures she has had in some of the most majestic places in America. She just returned from an Instagram takeover in Maui, Hawaii as part of Alaska’s Weekend Wanderer series. For more Weekend Wanderer posts, be sure to follow Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

When we touched down in Maui, we were overwhelmed by the sweet, thick ocean air. There’s really nothing like that feeling – it’s one you can only get in Hawaii.

More Maui: 5 must-do’s on Maui, Hawaii’s Valley Isle

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Alaska's frontline employees

A forecasted more than 2,300 frontline jobs will be up for grabs at Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air throughout 2017. The growing airlines are looking for candidates to fill hundreds of flight attendant, pilot, reservations and customer service jobs throughout the airlines’ route network.

Jobs will be posted to alaskaair.jobs and horizonair.jobs throughout the year. More than 2,000 of the positions do not require previous airline experience.

“This is an exciting time for our airlines – we are growing and that means more new job opportunities in the communities we serve.” says Laura Fowler, Managing Director Talent Acquisition & Inclusion.  “Our team is on the lookout for people who want to be a part of a great culture and help create an airline people love.”

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Family at Pensacola Beach

Finding out your child is in the hospital is terrifying, especially if you get the news while you’re in the air, aboard a flight headed in the opposite direction.

Jason Carlton, a resident of De Queen, Arkansas, was flying on Feb. 20 with two friends from Dallas to a ministry conference in Seattle.

Prior to the trip, Carlton’s 8-year-old daughter, Mia Beth, had been sick with a cold. Mia Beth has severe asthma and has struggled with respiratory distress. Carleton’s wife, Melanie, had scheduled a doctor’s appointment for Mia Beth that morning.

“Since I had an early flight on Monday morning, I had left home on Sunday afternoon to spend Sunday night with friends in Dallas,” said Carlton. “During the night, Mia Beth’s cold went from bad to worse. We were concerned, but it had been two years since her last hospitalization. I decided to go ahead and make my trip to Seattle.”

At the doctor’s office, Mia Beth’s percentage of oxygen saturation had dropped below normal, and her doctor decided to transfer her to the local hospital via ambulance, and then on to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, about 120 miles away.

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