One hot night in the early 1960s in a tiny music hall in New Orleans, a group of jazz musicians got together to pay tribute to Sam Morgan’s Jazz Band, some three decades after Morgan’s death. New Orleans jazz scene regulars Kid Howard and Kid Sheik were there, on the trumpet and cornet, respectively. Ken Mills of Preservation Hall fame was there to facilitate.

The band had been playing for a little while when they were interrupted by a frantic pounding on the door. It was an elderly man who’d heard the music wafting through the streets and come running.

“Sam Morgan’s back! Sam Morgan’s back!”

My grandfather cries when he tells this story.

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Mmm, Mazatlán.

karen e1404238864252 A locals guide to Mazatlán

Alaska Airlines customer service agent Karen Solis says she likes to joke with her customers. “The first step they see is immigration and I get to make their first smile in Mazatlan.”

Between its golden beaches, local seafood and renowned nightlife, it’s easy to see why this resort town on the Pacific Ocean is such a popular vacation destination.

But for those who crave an experience that’s a little more off the beaten path, it’s worth a round of “what do the locals do?”
Alaska Airlines customer service agent Karen Solis has lived most of her life in the “Pearl of the Pacific,” and offers these hyper-local tips.

She says most people probably have no idea that the world’s tallest natural working lighthouse is in Mazatlán, that 30 percent of all vegetables eaten in Mexico are grown in Sinaloa, or that the people of Sinaloa are known throughout the country for their beauty.

Book your flight: destination Mazatlán.

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A team of experts plate and sample every single dish before it is added to the menu. In this photo, Alaska Airlines onboard food and beverage product manager Kirsten Robinett examines a first class meal in a recent menu quality check. Pictured here: Cucina Fresca penne with herb-roasted chicken breast and broccoli florets.


Let’s be frank. Meals don’t always taste so great at 35,000 feet.

Why does airplane food taste so bad?

Taste buds are dulled and even the most carefully prepared dishes are, at best, reheated leftovers. It’s no wonder that airline food has a bum rap.

But Alaska Airlines’ chef and a team of onboard food and beverage experts have spent the past few years working to change that.

“We don’t want to just have good airline food – we want to have good food, period,” says Lisa Luchau, director of Alaska Airlines’ onboard food and beverage services.

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Aiming to improve onboard storage and make flying easier for customers, Alaska Airlines will be the first carrier to get Boeing’s innovative Space Bins. The larger overhead bins have a similar look and feel to Alaska’s current Boeing Sky Interior pivot bins yet hold more bags.

Space Bins on an Alaska Airlines 737-900ER will hold as many as 174 standard carry-on bags, a 48 percent increase compared to current bins that hold up to 117 bags. Space Bins are deep enough to store nonstandard items, such as a guitar. Space Bins will arrive on all Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX airplanes delivered to Alaska Airlines starting in late 2015.

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A college student’s Alaska adventure was nearly derailed before it even started – until Alaska Airlines employees went above and beyond to deliver him to his final destination.

When Flight 139 from Chicago to Anchorage was diverted to nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson because of unexpected fog May 5, many customers needed help rearranging plans and making connections.

A 21-year-old man on his first visit to Alaska was especially worried.

Andrew Quinones had booked a chartered halibut fishing trip – “something I’d dreamed of doing since I was a kid,” he said.

The boat was scheduled to leave the next morning out of Seward, about 125 miles south of Anchorage – a 2 ½-hour drive.

Because of the time it took to transport customers from the Air Force base back to Ted Stevens International Airport, buses weren’t running to Seward at that time of the evening, and taxi fare probably would have cost more than airfare.

“I was stressing out,” Quinones said. “I had already paid for my fishing trip and would not be able to get a refund. I also had prepaid my hotel in Seward and could not receive a refund on that as well. I was worried that I would be stranded in Anchorage with no hotel or way of transportation.”

That’s when the Alaska Airlines team in Anchorage got creative.

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As much as he appreciates the Bombardier Q400’s sophisticated flight deck technology, Horizon Air Captain Rob Sandberg quite enjoys stepping back in time. He can often be found at the controls of World War II fighter aircraft, flying for a worthy cause close to his heart.

For the past seven years, the Seattle-based pilot has been a member of the Condor Squadron, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit group that preserves and flies AT-6 aircraft at military funerals, sports team games, airshows and other community events. Founded in 1965 by a group of World War II fighter pilots, the squadron’s mission is to remember and honor those who’ve flown for the U.S. military.
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Though some heroes come brandishing a sword or a super power, one Alaska Airlines customer comes equipped with miles and the power of social media.

When Cecily Craighill missed her flight from Atlanta to Eugene, Oregon, on a different airline, James “JJ” Durant, an Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K, came to her rescue on Facebook.

Craighill, director of alumni relations at Emory University Law School in Atlanta, was traveling to Eugene for a friend’s wedding. Due to a series of personal delays, she missed her flight by two minutes. Upset and not sure what to do, Craighill posted the following status on her Facebook account:

01_MVP_Gold

 

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Alaska Airlines began daily service between Seattle and Tampa, Florida, on June 20 – the first nonstop flight to link the cities, which cuts a few hours of flight time for tourists and business travelers.

Aboard the 5-hour-40-minute inaugural flight, my wife and I left our kids and escaped for a quick two-night trip.

At a welcome celebration that featured live pink flamingos and a reggae band (“Don’t worry, be happy – Alaska Airlines is here!”), Tampa airport leaders boldly proclaimed that Northwest residents who experience Florida’s beaches won’t want to go back to Hawaii or Mexico.

How does Tampa compare to Hawaii or Mexico? The jury needs more time for deliberation, but here are five things we enjoyed during our visit. (We saved Busch Gardens for next time, when we bring the kids.)

Book your flight: Seattle to Tampa low-fare calendar

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Gary Beck, vice president of flight operations at Alaska Airlines, testified Wednesday in Washington, D.C., before a Senate subcommittee on aviation.

Gary Beck

Gary Beck, vice president of flight operations at Alaska Airlines, testified Wednesday in Washington, D.C., about NextGen before a Senate subcommittee on aviation.

In the hearing to examine the Federal Aviation Administration’s progress on NextGen, Chairwoman Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, highlighted the work that Alaska Airlines is already doing.

“One of the areas I mentioned is the implementation of the Greener Skies initiative over Seattle, where Alaska Airlines partnered with (the Port of) Seattle, Boeing, the FAA, and leveraged Alaska’s pioneering efforts on NextGen and performance-based navigation,” Cantwell said. “Alaska’s private investment and research in this field has benefited passengers throughout the nation. It is critical that we continue to fund the research and development that will help achieve these technically complex capabilities and long-term goals.”

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Three-quarters of a century after the cries of “Gold! Gold! In the Klondike!” a quirky little airline with deep roots in the state of Alaska decided to pay its own tribute to the gold rush.

Alaska Airlines’ “Golden Nugget Service” era launched in the early 1960s, and passengers would not soon forget it.

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