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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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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Roasted sunflower seeds and dried cranberries give this simple granola a special twist.

“This granola remains one of our most popular first class offerings, and we are often asked for the recipe,” says Kirsten Robinett, Alaska Airlines’ onboard food and beverage services product manager.

Custom-designed by Alaska’s executive chef, this popular granola is served in first class on shorter flights, such as Seattle-San Francisco.

Granola

Makes approximately 13, 4-ounce servings

Rolled oats, 32 ounces
Brown sugar, 8 ounces
Butter, 6 ounces
Sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds, 3 ounces
Roasted sunflower seeds, 1 ounce
Dried cranberries, 3 ounces

Melt butter and add sugar on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Mix with oats. Spread on sheet pan and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Put baked oats in bowl and toss in nuts, seeds and cranberries.

Try serving with Greek yogurt and fresh blueberries.

Enjoy!

This is the first in a multi-part series about Alaska Airlines’ new service to New Orleans.

The last time I was in New Orleans was nearly 20 years ago when I was working as a room steward on the American Queen, a sternwheeler plying the Mississippi River with passengers on a week-long cruise of Mark Twain’s South.

During our short shore leave, the boat crew was mainly interested in finding the tallest alcoholic beverage possible (20-ounce hurricanes are standard),  gawking at street performers and partiers on Bourbon Street, catching beads during the Mardi Gras parades and stumbling back to the boat before push off the next day so we wouldn’t be left behind without a job.

This time (as a passenger on Alaska Airlines’ inaugural nonstop flight from Seattle to New Orleans) I had three days – just enough time to get a small sample of all the art, food, music and culture the city has to offer. And, as a bonus, no hangover.

Passengers on Alaska Airlines' inaugural flight June 12 from Seattle to New Orleans were in a festive mood.

Passengers on Alaska Airlines’ inaugural flight June 12 from Seattle to New Orleans were in a festive mood.

My weekend visit was mostly focused on French Quarter, where architectural beauty, history, music and the lauded Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine mix with debauchery and excess on the famous Bourbon Street. It’s the natural place to start for anyone visiting New Orleans for the first time.

Book your flight: Seattle to New Orleans low fare finder.

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It’s a feeling every MVP knows all too well – that sudden leap of joy at the pre-flight email saying you’ve been upgraded.

“It means a lot,” says Keith Hamilton, an MVP Gold 75k who flies anywhere from 25 to 30 times per year. He estimates that he gets upgraded on about two out of every three flights.

But how and when do those upgrades happen?

Not a Mileage Plan member? Join today and start earning your way to your next adventure.

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