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Alaska Airlines Goes “Beyond” — or Does It?

E ffective as of two days ago, Alaska Airlines introduced its Beyond experience — which comprises of improvements in its offerings: complimentary in-flight entertainment; artisan food and beverages; leather Rocaro seats equipped with personal power controls; and award-winning service — in order to differentiate the airline from its competitors.

Without further ado, let us examine the Beyond experience more closely — and you can click on each heading for additional details…

Beyond Entertainment

Now initially available on 50 Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines, you can enjoy complimentary entertainment directly on your personal electronic device through Saturday, January 31, 2015, which includes premium content — apparently as some sort of “teaser” for customers to get a “taste” of it — and nearly all of the Boeing fleet will be equipped with this in-flight entertainment product by April 2015.

Programming available through in-flight entertainment provided by Alaska Airlines is powered by Gogo Vision, a service which wirelessly streams content from a server aboard the aircraft to your portable electronic device.

Starting on Sunday, February 1, 2015, members of the Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty program who have earned MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K elite level status seated in the economy class cabin will be required to pay for the content starting at $1.99 if you have your own device and $8.00 if you do not; and FlyerTalk members are not happy about that. I cannot say that I blame them — especially as Delta Air Lines offers Delta Studio in-flight entertainment offers some free content to passengers seated in the economy class cabin: “If AS wants to play the game with DL, they should give some free content just like DL is giving. First Class and economy comfort are also free on DL”, posted FlyerTalk member CDKing in this discussion.

Beyond Comfort

Power up with standard and USB personal power outlets at every leather seat, which is custom-designed and manufactured by Recaro and features 6-way adjustable headrests, enhanced personal space and three inches of recline. Access to power outlets is conveniently located in the seatback in front of each passenger. Greater than 95 percent of the fleet of Boeing 737-800, 737-900, and 737-900ER aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines have power outlets at every seat.

Additionally, Alaska Airlines will be the first carrier to install new overhead storage bins from The Boeing Company on its fleet of Boeing 737 and 737 MAX aircraft being delivered in late 2015.

Officially called Space Bins, the larger overhead bins have a similar look and feel to the overhead storage bins currently in use; yet they hold up to 48 percent more bags — or as many as 174 standard carry-on bags as opposed to the current capacity of 117 of those bags. They can even store items which would usually not fit in a typical overhead storage bin — such as a guitar.

When open, the bottom edge of the overhead storage bin hangs approximately 2 inches lower, which means that passengers do not need to lift their bags as high to load them. The deeper bins allow more bags to be stowed; and let customers load overstuffed bags with less struggle — which purportedly will reduce boarding times while improving on-time performance and require less intervention from flight attendants.

Perhaps these new overhead bins will help abate the war over space in the overhead storage bins.

Beyond Delicious

Dine on locally-sourced artisan food and beverage from iconic Northwest brands, including signature entrees designed by award-winning chef Tom Douglas. “The popular Signature Fruit & Cheese Platter features Beecher’s Flagship and Tillamook cheeses are available on all flights, as well as hand-poured Canoe Ridge wines, Sun Liquor hand-crafted liquors, Alaskan Amber and other local micro-brews, and in First Class, Chateau Ste. Michelle wines.”

On flights whose duration is 2.5 hours or greater, hot meals will be available for sale for passengers seated in the economy class cabin.

Perhaps I am not as appreciative as others may be with cuisine; but I really do not care by whom the “signature entrees” are designed — I just care that the food is good…

…that is, if I receive any food at all. Besides, I have dined on “signature entrees” on other airlines — such as by Todd English and Michelle Bernstein for Delta Air Lines — and while the food can be tasty and creative, I was left wondering on some of the meals why it took an award-winning chef to “design” what I was eating…

Beyond Service

This is the official marketing copy posted at the official Internet web site of Alaska Airlines Beyond: “Smiles, helpful tips, engaging personalities. These are things that make the difference when you are on your next adventure. Our team has earned a reputation for warm, genuine, and exceptional customer service. We’re not just moving people from point A to point B—we know that travel delivers richer and fuller lives, and we are enthusiastic about the role that we play on your trip.” Regardless of whether or not this is true, it sounds to me like there is nothing new here.


While there seem to be some improvements — such as more space in the overhead bins — a significant part of the rollout of Beyond appears to be little more than marketing hype similar to what was introduced by Delta Air Lines earlier this month, in my opinion.

What are your thoughts?

Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

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