It’s not every day that you see any sort of 737 in the Museum of Flight parking lot – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Over the past few years, Alaska Airlines has been making gradual enhancements to its overall product. New seats from Recaro, in-seat power, Wi-Fi from Gogo, Starbucks coffee, and tablet-based in-flight entertainment (IFE). These improvements have all come together to create a product Alaska is calling Alaska Beyond. The most noticeable addition to their product is improving upon their dining options.
To complete the Alaska Beyond project (the last few aircraft will be reconfigured by the end of April), Alaska decided to have a party. Now, that’d be great on its own, but they made it even more impressive by taking a 737-990ER (N462AS, if you wondered) out of service for a day, and gave a two-hour demonstration of the product in flight. Who was to attend? Well, media, stakeholders in the Alaska Beyond product (including Tom Douglas, three-time James Beard award-winning chef), and Alaska’s 0.01% top-tier frequent flyers.
Seattle-area winery Chateau Ste. Michelle has formed a new partnership with Alaska Airlines – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Inside the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, Alaska got the party started with wine from their newest partner, Chateau Ste. Michelle, along with Beecher’s cheese.
After enjoying the ground party, we were ready to head into the sky. We began to head back to the parking lot (yes, the parking lot) to embark on our flight.
Alaska Airlines first Boeing 737-900ER (N402AS) is seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Image from Alaska Airlines.
Yesterday, Alaska Airlines introduced their first Boeing 737-900ER. This aircraft is the newest that is in production for the 737 family and adds a number of firsts for the airline.
Each 900ER delivered (Alaska has ordered 38) will feature the Boeing Sky Interior, new Recaro seats and 181 total capacity (16 in First, 165 in economy), which is nine additional passengers than the 737-900. The -900ER was not stretched over the -900;the additional room comes from re-designing the rear bulkhead to be flat rather than curved.
“Boeing’s Sky Interior and our new custom-designed seats represent the most significant cabin upgrades for Alaska Airlines in more than 20 years and are part of our goal to make flying more comfortable for our customers,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska Airlines’ president and CEO. “In addition to an improved cabin experience, the 737-900ER has environmental benefits, as well. On a flight between Seattle and Newark, New Jersey, for example, the 737-900ER burns 3 percent fewer gallons per seat than a 737-900.”
Here are the new Recaro seats on Alaska Airline’s Boeing 737-900ER. Image by Alaska.
The new Recaro seats still have those headrests that I have come to love on Alaska’s newer aircraft and they offer a pocket for magazines/safety card above the tray table and a net below. Something not as noticeable, but still very important, is the fact that seats are lighter. They are estimated to save 8,000 gallons of fuel per year per aircraft, which will really add up once all 38 are in operation.
“The Boeing 737-900ER is a great addition to Alaska Airlines’ all-Boeing fleet, providing industry-leading efficiency and passenger comfort,” said Brad McMullen, vice president of North America sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The airplane’s Boeing Sky Interior coupled with Alaska’s excellent customer service will provide passengers a flying experience no other single-aisle airplane can match. The 737-900ER also offers the best seat-mile cost on the market, which is especially important with today’s high fuel prices.”
The Boeing Sky Interior provides updated and larger overhead bins, as well as LED lighting. Image from Alaska Airlines.
Alaska’s new 737-900ERs will fly routes between the west and east coasts and is ETOPS certified to operate to the Hawaiian Islands. Alaska also recently announced 50 737 MAX aircraft in an effort to expand and modernize their fleet.
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS OF THE ALASKA AIRLINES 737-900ER by Brandon Farris.
Alaska Airlines new New Recaro seats for economy class that will make their appearance on the airline's new Boeing 737-900ERs. Image from Alaska.
Alaska Airlines has announced that they will be installing new seats from Recaro Aircraft Seating on their 22, soon-to-be delivered, Boeing 737-900ERs.
The seats will offer a six-way adjustable headrest, three inches of recline and an additional inch of legroom.
The additional leg room will not affect the airline’s seat pitch of 31-32″, but it will offer more room for your legs. “The extra inch we refer to is gained by Recaro’s clever design that effectively adds one more inch of room to your living space, without us moving the seats further apart,” Alaska spokes person confirmed to AirlineReporter.com. “Specific to pitch, our pitch will stay consistent with our current standard 31-32 inches.”
Alaska Airlines new New Recaro seats for First Class that will make their appearance on the airline's new Boeing 737-900ERs. Image from Alaska.
Alaska will also get new Recaro seats for the first class cabin that will offer five inches of recline, an articulating seat bottom and a six-way adjustable headrest.
The seat, “design includes a comfortable yet slimmer seatback and bottom and a literature pocket located above the tray table,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing. “The new seats add to a very special onboard experience that all of our customers flying Alaska’s new 737-900ERs will enjoy, including Boeing’s Sky Interiorwith its improved lighting and sculpted overhead bins that create a more spacious cabinonboard Wi-Fi, Starbucks coffee, premium Washington wines and delicious meals for purchase, as well as our renowned personal service.”
The seats are also lighter and are expected to save about 8,000 gallons of fuel annually per aircraft.
Last Friday I showed off Boeing’s 360 view of a Boeing 737 (nicknamed the “gigaplane”) and asked how many photos it took to make this one of a kind view. When the first few “around 20,000” answers started rolling in, I thought people were pretty good. Then I realized that other sites and even Boeing had covered the 360 view and stated it was “around 20,000.” I guess I cannot blame people for doing research, but luckily the “real” answer is not an even 20k — I do not have that many prizes.
So what is the exact answer? According to Boeing it is 22,240.
There were a lot of guesses and I appreciate the involvement, but who got closest? Well, I am giving props to the two who were the closest: Ariff Shah from Moscow who was only off by 240 and Allen Cheng from Langley, BC who was off by 260. So what do they win besides uber props on the blog?
These are the fabulous prizes for the Boeing 737 360 giga-plane contest. Good stuff.
They will both be mailed the prizes above: three AirlineReporter.com stickers, one magnet of an ANA Boeing 737 and last, but surely not least a coffee cup holder I got during the first flight of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. For the average person, the paper coffee holder means nothing, but for the true aviation geek, this is gold.
The video above shows behind-the-scenes on the making of the gigaplane image created by Boeing. It seems that fans are not the only ones excited about the giga-image. Rahsaan Johnson, the Director of United’s Communications told AirlineReporter.com, “Boeing is a great partner and the 737 is a great airplane, so we’re happy to join them in showing it off.”
A huge thanks to Boeing for creating and sharing this image with the general public — I hope we see more like it in the future.
This will become the new livery of Horizon Air...er I mean Alaska Airlines operated by Horizon Air. Click for larger.
The fine media folks over at Alaska Airlines had quite the day yesterday. They were very busy announcing all sorts of exciting things. I am sure some of this stuff you have already heard, but maybe some you haven’t. Here are some of the announcements:
HORIZON LOSES OWN BRAND, GAINS ALASKA’S:
As an Alaska Airlines/Horizon fan and one that loves liveries, this is huge news. On January 1, 2011, Horizon Air stopped flying under its own brand and for most people, this was not an obvious change. Instead of flying their own routes and doing their own marketing of their routes, they started flying 100% via capacity purchase agreement under Alaska Airlines. At the time, questions started to surface on what Horizon’s future would be. Horizon could have been sold off, started to fly for other carriers or be absorbed completely under the Alaska brand. Yesterday, Alaska announced they will be re-branding Horizon with the Alaska brand. This means the sun on the tail will be replaced with the familiar Eskimo. Over time, all of Horizon’s fleet will be repainted in Alaska colors with some Horizon lettering.
If you love those Horizon Q400’s in university livery (go Dawgs!), do not worry, Horizon stated via their Twitter account, they are here to stay. Just because the outer brand will be changing, doesn’t mean the Horizon brand of service will be changing. You will still get the Ala Cart baggage service, flight crew uniforms and of course that free beer and wine you can get with every flight.
I have always enjoyed the Horizon Air livery on the Q400’s, but I have to say, Alaska’s livery on the aircraft looks slick. Normally a change like this will look odd and takes some time to get used to (ie United’s new livery), but this just seems natural. The “Horizon” after the Alaska name looks odd, but my guess is the “Horizon” will be removed as passengers get used to the new, combined brand.
This makes sense. A lot of sense. Horizon and Alaska have been operating under the Alaska Air Group since Horizon was purchased in 1986, but they have remained pretty separate. There has been a lot of overlap between the companies, where they did things separately. Not only will this move save money in advertising one brand, instead of two, but it also allows them to merge offices and jobs. This can secure both the futures of Alaska and Horizon Air and should make it easier for the airline to swap out aircraft between the mainline Boeing 737’s and Horion’s Q400’s when needed and possible.
This is a booming time for the airline business. Many of the airlines are seeing profits they haven’t seen in years — or ever. Alaska is one of those that is very much enjoying the boom. They reported their 4th quarter 2010 net income as $47.4 million. That is not bad, especially seeing how they only made $4.4 million during the fourth quarter 2009. The entire Alaska Air Group has $1.2 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities at December 31, 2010. Adjusted debt-to-total capital ratio of 67% — lowest leverage since 1999.
Anytime airlines make a profit, some people seem to want to punish them. Asking for lower fares and removal of fees. Please. They are a business and need to save up money and reinvest money for future growth. I think we should all be happy for the airlines and especially Alaska for making such impressive profits.
ADDITIONAL BOEING 737 ORDERS:
Alaska announced they have ordered an additional 13 Boeing 737-900ER’s, which will will have the new Sky Interior. Alaska hopes to start taking delivery in 2012 and to be completed by 2014. Alaska posted a photo of the proposed new Sky Interior on their new 737’s via Twitter yesterday, which is small, but at least gives you an idea of what it will look like. Boeing released a computer generated photo of what the Alaska Air Boeing 737-900ER will look like (spoiler: no big surprises, but still cool photo). Dan Webb via his blog, Things in the Sky, took a closer look at what this order means for Alaska so no point in repeating his findings.
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS OF INTEREST:
* Alaska Airlines holds the No. 1 spot in U.S. Department of Transportation on-time performance among the 10 largest U.S. airlines for the last twelve months.
* Alaska Airlines reaches a tentative agreement with its IAM-represented employees ’“ including customer service agents, reservations agents, and certain clerical staff.
* Horizon Air’s mechanics and pilots ratify long-term labor contracts.
* Alaska will be retiring all the CRJ-700’s in the Horizon fleet by the end of 2011. Although I love the Q400’s, it would have been nice to see a CRJ in Alaska livery — oh well.
Although some will be sad to see the Horizon brand will vanish over the horizon (sorry, couldn’t help myself), it does mean that the Horizon you have gotten to know and love will be going anywhere. All these changes is great news for Alaska and in turn for many of those that fly in and out of Seattle and the western United States. Alaska has done an amazing job of growing in to new markets an providing a high level of service for their customers. I see that these changes will only help Alaska continue to succeed and grow.