Welcoming a 53lb Copper River salmon to Seattle
In what town do people get up before 4:00am to greet some fish? In the land of the flying fish, of course!
This was the sixth year in a row that I woke up earlier than I probably should to greet my breakfast, which was flying in on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 Combi. Why? Well, it is a special (aka delicious) kind of breakfast; some Copper River salmon.
Also, I enjoy the fun event that Alaska Airlines puts on each year to celebrate the official start to the salmon season.
The Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 Combi (reg N762AS) arrives to SEA
Why are these salmon different? Well, they like to travel — about 300 miles from the ocean to their spawning grounds and that type of journey requires lots of energy (aka fat). That fat gives the fish its special flavor for which many people are willing to pay a premium.
An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 landing at LAX – Photo: Daniel Betts | Flickr CC
On the way back from my recent trip to the UK, I was scheduled to have barely a two-hour layover at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). That’s a pretty tight connection to clear immigration and customs, then change terminals, so I was expecting my newly-acquired Global Entry membership to save the day.
Yes, Global Entry was extremely convenient, but what I thought would be a story about how I made my connection with moments to spare did not turn out that way. Turns out that the fact I ended up on a flight, arriving to Seattle at 1:52 am, with only one other passenger, made my experience much more interesting.
Here’s how it happened.
Space Bins in the 737 Configuration Studio – Photo: The Boeing Company
During Aviation Geek Fest 2015, a small number of us AvGeeks (seven, to be exact: me, Mal, Dan, Christy, Michael, Michael #2, and Derek — who didn’t seem to make it into the video, but still was great) were invited by Boeing to preview their new Space Bin design and offer our feedback. It was previously announced that Alaska Airlines will be the launch customer for the Space Bin (first aircraft should be delivered by the end of the year), so as a frequent flier on Alaska, I was very interested to see the overhead bin of the future. (Also, this was probably the closest I will ever come to my not-so-secret dream of appearing in an airline safety demonstration video.)
The Space Bin offers a significant increase in capacity, with each bin holding six standard-sized rollaboard bags, instead of four. According to Boeing, that allows for 194 total bags in Space Bins on a 737-900ER or 737 MAX 9, compared to 132 in the current bin configuration; 174 compared to 118 on a 737-800 or 737 MAX 8; and 130 compared to 90 on a 737-700 or 737 MAX 7.
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.