This year was the ninth annual Alaska Airlines Copper River Salmon cook off. What’s that? It is the first time of the season that the very tasty Copper River salmon is flown down from the crisp waters off of Cordova, AK to Seattle. Then, multiple chefs from the region cook up their favorite dishes and the audience of VIPs and MVPs vote their favorite. Even though this event requires me to get up earlier than I would prefer, I look forward to it and it is always worth it. Not only do I get to try some yummy fish, but there are always some good times with planes to be had!
RDU’s stunning Terminal 2 ticketing area – Photo: RDU Airport Authority
Two cities on either side of the country have become the epicenter of a battle royale that would make wrestling promoter Vince McMahon proud. Put on your best ring announcing voice and proclaim this the â€œBattle of SEA and RDU!â€ (rolls off the tongue better than “Seattle-Tacoma International Airport versus Raleighâ€“Durham International Airport)
Through a TV news and PR career, Iâ€™ve lived in some cities I would have never imagined, including six years in Raleigh, NC (2001 to 2007). Back then, American Airlines dominated with regional jet service to smaller cities and big planes to major hubs of Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and New York.
Delta mainly flew to Atlanta and Cincinnati. You also had the option of Northwest Airlines to its hub cities of Memphis, Minneapolis, and Detroit. One city not on the list back then was Seattle. I flew out to the Emerald City in 2005 to see my Minnesota Twins in the baseball opener via a connection in Minneapolis on Northwest.
What a difference a decade makes. Thanks to increased competition and more nonstop flights to cities that were once ignored by the airlines, the consumer has more choices than ever as Seattle and Raleigh, NC have two nonstop flights that started within the past two years. RDU also has a stunning updated terminal that makes Sea-Tacâ€™s 1970â€™s airport look even worse than its brown facade and cramped restrooms seem.
Alaska was first with nonstop Seattle to Charleston, SC and Raleigh, NC flights. It was a roll of the dice for Alaska, who does not have much brand recognition east of the Mississippi. The Charleston flight was literally a gift to Boeing, since so many of its employees shuttle between the two cities (due to their 787 factory there). Raleigh has a big tech and pharmaceutical community, so the airlines are banking on that business.
Alaska says the risk is worth the reward.
“We are all about providing nonstop access to destinations like Charleston and Raleigh making travel convenient and efficient for our guests,” Alaska spokesperson Ann Johnson tells AirlineReporter. “Since we started service in Charleston and RDU, we have increased it based on the demand. We have increased the number of days of week that we operate the Charleston service. At RDU we launched a second destination to SFO last year. Alaska offers the most nonstop service out of Seattle to top destinations.”
Delta did not respond for comment on this story.
I had a personal flight recently on Delta (I paid for and did not receive any perks for doing this story) and thought why not break down the service.
Alaska Airlines’ newly-converted 737-700 freighter on a recent flight from Anchorage to Seattle
Alaska Airlines recently added a new type of aircraft to its fleet: an all-cargo Boeing 737-700, converted from one of their passenger jets.
Alaska’s first completed 737-700 freighter being prepped for paint in Victorville, Calif – Photo: Mike Hogan (manager, Alaska Airlines vendor maintenance)
The conversion was completed in Tel Aviv by Israel Aerospace Industries. The plane was ferried to Israel in 2016, and the conversion process took a total of 19 months. Now that the necessary protocols and systems have been developed, subsequent conversions will be completed at a faster rate.
My first Alaska Air E175 pulls up to SLC
It has been a few years since I first flew on an Embraer E-Jet. That was on Air Canada, from Seattle to Toronto and I was sitting up front. The very long (for a smaller aircraft) flight was a breeze, but being in first class surely helped.
Since then, I have not had the opportunity to fly on another one. When I saw that Alaska Airlines was adding them to their fleet (via SkyWest and Horizon), I was excited. I figured it would only be a matter of time before I would get the chance to fly one, and when I recently took a trip down to Salt Lake City (SLC), I got my opportunity.
On my flight down, I flew on an Alaska 737-800 — been there, done that. But when I looked at my flight options back home, I saw that there was the option to fly on the E175. Yesâ€¦ that please.
The first Copper River salmon of the season arrives to Seattle on N764AS
As I headed to the eighth annual Alaska Airlines Copper River Cook Off I was excited, but a little nervous about my story angle. For six years I shared a pretty similar story aboutÂ the first Copper River salmon of the season being flown down from Alaska. How the huge (and delicious) fish is walked off the plane, cut up, cooked by a few fancy restaurants, and one dish is chosen as the winner. Do not get me wrong, I have loved every year participating, but I didn’t want to be that guy, telling the same story over and over again.
Kiss the fish!
Unloading delicious cargo
Last year I was pretty darn lucky to get a chance to fly up to Cordova, Alaska, watch all the boats go out to get the fish, and follow the fish back to Seattle and into my belly. Even with all my airline adventures, I have to say flying with the fishies has been one of my favorites (flying with fishies good, sleeping with fishies bad).
Last Friday, I was still very sleepy when I got to the Alaska Air Cargo parking lot at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waiting for this year’s plane to land. I started chatting with Halley Knigge, Alaska Airlines Media + Content Editor, and she mentioned that Alaska was retiring their first 737-400 Combi (half cargo, half passengers, all 737) out of their fleet the following week (aka this week). Oh thank you once again AvGeek Writing Gods… I had my angle.