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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nicon Andritsakis

Whale Watching: San Diego to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines



There are some routes you just expect certain airlines to fly, and some you don't. Those that do, and take their sweet time getting around to it, you're left there thinking "What took you so long?" Such was the case with Alaska Airlines with its new route between Anchorage, Alaska, and San Diego, California. This is a route that should've been started years ago, I'm talking about at least 2 decades or more, back in the Boeing 727 days.


Last Winter, Alaska Airlines announced a new service between San Diego and Anchorage to begin May 18, 2024. I was immediately booked on it, having my trip planned out to cover the new service between Atlanta and San Diego, on May 16th. I was set.


Time to Go!


Having spent the last two days in San Diego being a tourist (something I very rarely get to do with my job), I was ready to get the show on the road and back in the air.


San Diego International Airport in the morning is a madhouse, especially the East end of Terminal 2, where Alaska's counter is, considering it's shoved into a corner of the terminal surrounded by elevators and terminal support beams. There were crowds of people everywhere, but thankfully with my spinal issues, one of the Alaska greeters waved a wheelchair pusher over for me and I got checked in pretty quickly, even though I was also in First Class.


Festivities at Gate 21 were already set up by the time I was wheeled up, and a few of my Alaska cohorts exhorted me to join in. Who am I to say no? I played along with the passengers, spun the prize wheels, got my photo taken with the star of the flight, the Boeing 737 MAX 9 N932AK, sporting its appropriate for the route West Coast Wonders livery showcasing Orcas throughout the fuselage (definitely one of my favorites of all of Alaska's special liveries), and hobbled my way down the long jetway to board the flight as Passenger Number One.


The Flight Itself


Once in my seat, I was asked if I wanted a pre-departure water or Mimosa. Since it was a first flight, I sipped on a Mimosa as the rest of the passengers made their way past First Class and into Economy, with boarding going by pretty quickly despite how full the flight was. I gotta admit, Alaska's San Diego ground crews know how to turn a flight. We were out right on time from the gate, and even though Lindbergh Field is a one-runway airport, we were number 3 in line for departure, behind another Alaska 737 and a Hawaiian A330 on its way back home.


Blasting off from Runway 27 and out over Ocean Beach before turning to the North for the haul up to the Last Frontier, those of us on the left side with seats could see a gaggle of US Navy Seahawk choppers heading back to Naval Air Station North Island (I couldn't tell which squadron from our point of view, but the formation was cool to see). Settling in after climbing up to 36,000 feet just East of Bakersfield, the meal service in First Class began, and the drink and Purchase Onboard service back in Economy was getting set up. Since I had already pre-ordered my breakfast that morning, and I was in 1A (that first row of First is not my favorite with my long legs and big feet, but it was the last seat in First, so I took it regardless), the food came out real quick. I had ordered the Banana Foster French Toast, and lemme tell ya, it did NOT disappoint. Portion sizes were great and the presentation on the tray was fantastic. Of course, I had my customary inflight Ginger Ale as well, which was kept filled the whole way up to Anchorage.


With breakfast out of the way, I napped right up to the announcement that we were beginning our descent. I looked out the window at the gorgeous Alaskan scenery passing by below, spotting Hinchinbrook Island and Whittier before making our turn to the South over Point Mackenzie for an almost featherlight landing (you can never have a completely featherlight landing in a 737) on Runway 15. Springtime is always my favorite time up North, and I was not disappointed.


The Travel Genius Opinion


I love this route. Honestly, out of all the new routes Alaska has begun, this makes such perfect sense and a great way to get to either city. I sincerely hope this is a all-year-long segment. I urge all my Alaska/SoCal denizen fans to try this service out. ASAP!



















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