For some, hanging out in an airline lounge is an everyday activity. For others it is a rare treat, but for most it is an unknown adventure. Honestly, I haven’t had the experience hanging out in an airline’s lounge and wondered what it would be like. Fortunately, Alaska Airlines was more than happy to let me hang out for a few hours in their Board Room at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to see what it is like to be there as a passenger.
Luckily for me, the day I visited was a bit more special than regular days. Ponti Seafood Grill was handing out free samples and $20 gift certificates while Sleight of Hand Cellars was pouring a red and a white wine for Board Room members. Alaska has started having these special days about once per month, when they highlight local cuisine and wines. Thank goodness I was being a passenger this day and could partake in the great food and drink.
The Alaska Airlines Board Room has a feeling of elegance, yet at the same time is comfortable. You can enter wearing a suit, shorts or jeans and still feel at home. It seems cool enough that maybe someone like Billie Zane would hang out there (he actually was just leaving as I was showing up). From the moment you enter the large double doors, you are greeted with many smiles and there is always someone there to help you.
It really does give you the experience of flying first class. Everything is a bit fancier, you have more room and a lot of people there to help and answer any questions you might have. The Alaska Airlines Board Room in SEA is divided into two main areas. The bottom floor is more for the business traveler or people looking for a quieter area. Along the window there are plenty of work stations to plug into and get some work done using the complimentary Wi-Fi (which all of SEA has now as well).
The upstairs is where you will find families traveling together or folks looking for a little more entertainment. There are two large TV’s that become quite popular during sporting events. You also have some pretty awesome views of Alaska Airlines Boeing 737’s out the windows and you can see planes taking off in the distance.
The board room has a bar area where you can get adult drinks. Most are free, but if you want top shelf, it might cost you a few dollars. There are also two self-service locations where you can get soda, coffee and snacks. Throughout the day there are different food options ranging from pastries to cheese to boiled eggs. In the morning folks can try out one of the most amazing food machines I have seen: an automatic pancake maker. All you need to do is push a button and a double stack comes on out. They say it is popular with the kids, but heck, I found it super entertaining.
After spending some time in Alaska’s Board Room, it felt…well…a little lame being in the main terminal. Not to say that SEA is a bad airport to hang out in, but once you visit an airport lounge, it is hard to go back. So how do you visit the Board Room as a passenger? Miles and money!
If you aren’t a MVP or Gold Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Member, it will cost you $450 for the year. If you are MVP, it goes down to $375 and $295 for Gold. If you want to visit only for a day (maybe your flight is delayed or you want to come for wine/food day) then it only costs $40 for a day pass. Since there are many concierges to assist you (and free alcohol), $40 would be a deal if you need to get re-booked on a flight and will be hanging out for a few hours. As a member you have access not only to Alaska’s Board Rooms, but also partner airline lounges located all around the country.
Besides all the goodies, you are going to find first class service. The people that work in the board room are well trained in many areas to make sure they can help any passenger’s request (more on their duties tomorrow).