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:



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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.


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.


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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At the Széchenyi Bath in Budapest. Photo courtesy of Allison Czarnecki.

Traveling with children can be a daunting proposition.

Strollers, car seats, nap times, milk, diapers, escalators – and, not to mention, the children themselves. Add it all up and it’s a recipe for one big headache.

But to raise good travelers, you have to start early, says Salt Lake City-area blogger Allison Czarnecki.

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Sorting onboard recycling is not a clean job. It’s slimy, oozy, smelly and, sometimes, horrifyingly splattery. But believe it or not, it’s a coveted volunteer position at Alaska Air Group – so popular that there’s not always room for all of the hopeful volunteers.

About six times each year, onboard food and beverage specialist Kathy Hues sends out an email calling for volunteers. And each time, a handful of employees meet bright and early at the airline’s catering kitchen to sort about 10 flights’ worth of trash and recycling.

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A photo of Rick Russek wearing his name badge on a camera card allowed a fellow employee to identify him almost a year after his camera was dropped in Resurrection Bay.

A photo of Rick Russek wearing his name badge on a camera card allowed a fellow employee to identify him almost a year after his camera was dropped in Resurrection Bay.

When Los Angeles-based Alaska Airlines First Officer Rick Russek saw his point-and-shoot camera fall into Resurrection Bay one summer, he was certain he’d never see it, or the precious family photos that were on the memory card, again.

But an unlikely series of events combining the forces of nature, the kindness of strangers and co-workers, and simple good luck meant that Russek was eventually reunited with his photos, if not the camera that took them.

Russek, his wife, Kimberly, and their three children were on an Alaska vacation based out of Anchorage. They decided to rent a car and travel to Seward for a glacier and whale-watching cruise.

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