Alaska Airlines Review – Seats, Amenities, Customer Service, Baggage Fees, & More

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Frequently named “Best U.S. Airline” by many awards that passengers vote on themselves (including Condé Nast Traveller, Kayak, etc.), Alaska Airlines provides great service and has a very loyal customer base.

If you’re looking to fly Alaska for a future trip, then continue reading to find out all you need to know about baggage allowances, their frequent flyer program (Mileage Plan), fees and extras, cabin amenities, and more.

Basic Info

Airline: Alaska Airlines

Alliance: Not a member of an alliance, but has many codeshare partner airlines

Category: Major U.S. carrier

Frequent Flyer Program: MileagePlan

Tag Line: “Creating an airline people love”

About/Mission Statement: “Our goal is to always provide safe, reliable transportation for a reasonable price, along with the caring, friendly and professional service that we are known for.” (source)

Daily Flights: 957

Fleet: 298

Main Hub: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Destinations: 115

Alaska Airlines Route Map
Alaska Airlines route map. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Ticketing Options

Alaska Airlines has clear-cut ticketing options with 3 fare types available to book.

If you’re flexible on dates, then Alaska’s handy low fare calendar view will display the cheapest fares 3 days before and 3 days after your search date — or you can view a full month of the lowest fares.

Alaska Airlines Fare Types
Alaska Airlines fare types. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Saver (most restrictive fare): 

  • No seat selection
  • 1 personal item and 1 piece of carry-on
  • Last boarding status
  • No changes permitted
  • Mileage Plan Elite status members receive bonus miles, priority boarding, check-in benefits, and baggage allowance

Main (standard Economy): 

  • Seat selection free of charge (unless upgrading to Premium Class)
  • Changes permitted (fee may be applicable)
  • All Mileage Plan Elite benefits apply

First Class:

  • Seat selection free of charge (unless upgrading to Premium Class)
  • Access to the Alaska Lounge
  • Priority boarding status
  • Changes permitted (fee may apply)
  • All Mileage Plan Elite benefits apply

Alaska Airlines Frequent Flyer Program

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Mileage Plan is the loyalty program for Alaska Airlines. Affiliated with global partners, you can earn valuable miles flying with airlines such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific (at individual earning rates).

When earning miles flying Alaska, it is among the most generous frequent flyer programs, awarding a mile for a mile. There are also many other ways of earning points from everyday activities like shopping, dining, or staying in a hotel.

Hot Tip: To find out more, check out our in-depth article on Alaska’s Mileage Plan loyalty program.

Alaska Airlines Baggage Fees & Other Fees/Add-Ons

Baggage Fees

Carry-on Allowance

All passengers can bring 1 personal item and 1 standard carry-on bag for free.

Size Restrictions: Alaska does not disclose size restrictions for a personal item. Standard carry-on should not exceed 22” x 14” x 9”.

Lap Infant Carry-on Policy: A diaper bag (or similar) will count toward the ticketed adult passenger’s carry-on allowance. Lap infants receive no carry-on allowance.

Stroller Gate Check Policy: Alaska transports strollers or infant car seats free of charge as checked baggage, either at point of check-in or at the gate.

Checked Baggage Allowance

Alaska updated its checked baggage policy in December 2018, so if you booked prior to this date you can find information on checked baggage here.

Max weight of each piece: 23 kg (50 lb)

Max linear dimensions: 158 cm (62”)

1st bag2nd bag3+ bags4+ bags
Domestic Economy$30$40$100 each
Domestic First ClassFREE$25$100 each
Within the state of AlaskaFREEFREEFREE$100 each

Alaska applies seasonal baggage limits on the number of checked bags a passenger can bring; you can find these restrictions here.

Additional/Excess Baggage Fees:

Additional luggage (3+ bags): $100 per bag
Overweight Fee: $100 for bags 23 kg-45 kg (51 lb-100 lb)
Oversized Fee: $100 for bags 158 cm-292 cm (63”-115”)

*If bag is both overweight & oversize, fee is charged only once

View Alaska’s policy on special luggage such as sports equipment and musical instruments.

Hot Tip: Check out our post on Alaska Airlines baggage fees and how to avoid paying for them, which details credit cards that reimburse you for checked baggage fees and waivers/exclusions for frequent flyers.

Other Fees & Add-Ons

Reservation & Service Fees

By Phone: $15 (free for MVP Gold or 75K members)

Paper Itinerary Charge: $5

Ticket Receipt Request Research Time: $20

Partner Award Booking: $12.50

Same Day Change: $50 ($25 if traveling within California, or shuttle flights between Portland and Seattle, Anchorage and Fairbanks, or Spokane and Seattle).

Cancellation: $125 (free for First Class refundable tickets)

Exclusions/Waivers:

  • Free same-day changes and ticket changes for MVP Gold or 75K members.
  • The same-day change fee is waived for customers booked in refundable coach (F, D) or refundable first (Y, Z) fare classes.
  • Passengers traveling as part of a vacation package are not eligible for same-day confirmed changes. Any changes must be made by calling 1-844-762-0087.
  • Ticket change fee free for flights originating and finishing within Alaska (excluding reward flights, which incur a fee of $125)

Seat Selection Fees

You do not have the option to select a seat if you purchase a Saver fare. Otherwise, there is no charge for seat selection with Alaska (unless you opt to upgrade to Premium Class).

Premium Class Upgrade

Once you’ve selected your Main Cabin fare, you can choose to upgrade to Premium Class seating from $15 (depending on flight route, with the exception of the Saver fare as mentioned).

Alaska Airlines Premium Class
Alaska Airlines Premium Class. Image courtesy of blog.alaskaair.com.

Inflight Entertainment Tablet Rental: $10

Wi-Fi: $7 (1 hour) or $19 (all-day pass)

Onboard Refreshments

Snacks: $2.50-$6

Fresh Food: $8.50-$9.50

Beer: $7.50

Wine: $7.50-$8.50

Spirits: $7.50

You can reserve your food in the Main Cabin before your flight using the Alaska Airlines app.

How to Avoid Paying Excess Fees & Travel Expenses

There are a number of credit cards that will reimburse you for excess fees and travel expenses.

The way this works is that you can use your points to erase your travel expenses at the time of paying off your statement — or, by using the annual “travel/airline” credit that comes with your rewards card.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This no annual fee card comes with a 20,000 mile welcome bonus (worth $200) once you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. When you use your card for travel purchases (e.g. baggage fees), use your miles to pay off all, or part of, your statement! This is why we like this card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - The "big brother" card to the VentureOne® with a larger 50,000 welcome bonus (worth $500), when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months, and you'll earn 10X miles per $1 spent across thousands of hotels.

Alaska Seat Specs & Inflight Amenities

Alaska Airlines Aircraft Fleet
Alaska Airlines Aircraft Fleet. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Seat Specs

Alaska Airlines has a young fleet of 34 different aircraft, including their standard and colorful commemorative planes.

We’ve listed some seat specs below to give you an idea, but Alaska does not publish these on their website.

All seats within the Main Cabin and Premium Class recline 3″, and you can view the general aircraft configurations and seat counts on Alaska’s website.

Aircraft
Type
 FirstPremiumMain Cabin
AirBus A320Seat count818123
Seat pitch41″37″-38″31″-32″
Seat width21″17″17″
Boeing 737-400Seat count12n/a132
Seat pitch36″n/a32″-34″
Seat width21″n/a17″
Bombardier CRJ-700Seat countn/an/a70
Seat pitchn/an/a31″
Seat widthn/an/a17″
Embraer 175(E75)


Seat count121252
Seat pitch42″36″32″
Seat width21″18.25″18.25″

Inflight Amenities

Alaska Airlines First Class
Alaska Airlines first class dining. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

First Class

  • Spacious Recaro leather seats with 40″ pitch and generous recline
  • Power sockets
  • Quilted blankets
  • Freshly prepared meals (flights over 675 miles) plus premium wine, spirits, and craft beer
  • Wi-Fi (fee applies) with free texting
  • Dedicated flight attendant for the cabin
  • Alaska Beyond Entertainment to stream to your personal device
  • Inflight entertainment tablet (coast-to-coast flights and to Hawaii)
Alaska Airlines Premium Class
Alaska Airlines Premium Class. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Premium Class

  • 4 extra inches legroom than Main Cabin
  • Recaro leather seats
  • Early boarding (before Main Cabin)
  • Power socket
  • Wi-Fi (fee applies) with free texting
  • Alaska Beyond Entertainment to stream to your personal device
  • Inflight entertainment tablet available to rent (coast-to-coast flights and to Hawaii)
  • Complimentary soft drinks and snacks
Alaska Airlines Main Cabin
Alaska Airlines Main Cabin. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Main Cabin (Economy)

  • Leather seating with 6-way adjustable headrest
  • 31″-32″ legroom
  • Most seats have a power socket
  • Wi-Fi (fee applies) with free texting
  • Complimentary soft drinks and snacks

Hot Tip: View our article on Alaska Airlines boarding policy so you’ll know when it’s your turn to board the plane. 

Alaska Airlines Customer Satisfaction

Overall, passengers have a lot of love for Alaska Airlines. Customer Service is at the heart of this, with Alaska receiving praise for their friendly, helpful flight attendants and proactive customer service team.

Alaska’s loyal customers regularly take to social media to thank the airline for their continuing service, and are quick to defend their favorite carrier from comments by critical customers.

However, Alaska’s new Saver fare is causing a few issues for some customers who are used to the flexibility in changing tickets. But Alaska makes it very clear when purchasing a Saver ticket that changes are not permitted, so they can’t really be held accountable here.

Actually, these tickets are one of the most generous basic fares out there, allowing both a personal item and carry-on plus the opportunity to earn miles (which isn’t the case with budget fares for other major U.S. airlines). Alaska customers will probably be raving about the savings soon enough!

Most Common Complaints

132 complaints were lodged against Alaska Airlines from January-September 2018, according to the September 2018 Air Travel Consumer Report. These are the complaints broken down by category:

  • Flight problems (cancellation, delay, or misconnection): 32
  • Baggage: 24
  • Customer Service: 16
  • Disability: 14
  • Reservation, ticketing, boarding: 13
  • Other: 13
  • Fares: 6
  • Refunds: 5
  • Oversales: 5
  • Discrimination: 4
  • Advertising: 0

Consumer Rankings, Ratings, Etc. 

There are websites out there for airline ratings based on customer reviews. Here are a few of the most popular ratings, so you can see the general consumer opinion for Alaska Airlines.

Skytrax Ranking: 3 Star Airline (out of 5)

Skytrax Customer Rating: 6/10 (average from 506 reviews)

Alaska Airlines Skytrax Rating
Alaska Airlines Skytrax Rating. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

TripAdvisor Airline Review Rating: 4.5/5 (average from 11,556 reviews)

Kayak Customer Rating: 8.4/10 (average from 25,305 reviews)

Safety and Performance

Airlineratings.com Safety Rating7/7 (factors in whether the airline holds an IATA Operational Safety Audit Certification, in addition to utilizing government and crash records and information from the World’s Aviation Governing Body).

Recent Awards

Condé Nast Traveller: 2018 Best U.S. Airline

Kayak: Traveler Favorite 2018 Best Airline

Flyertalk: 2018 Best Rewards Program

Air Quality Rating: No. 1 U.S. Airline 2018

Charity Partnership

Alaska is as generous as they are friendly when it comes to philanthropic giving. In the last 5 years, they have made over $45 million in donations supporting disaster relief projects, youth/education, and community outreach.

They encourage their employees to get involved by donation matching and allowing volunteer time, and they allow their Mileage Plan members to donate miles to a choice of charities.

Alaska Airlines Airport Experience
Alaska Airlines airport experience. Image courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Final Thoughts

There’s growth on the horizon for Alaska, as they have stated they’ll hire another 3,000 employees throughout 2019. This supports their #MostWestCoast commitment to offer the most direct flights from the West Coast U.S. to Hawaii, with their newest flight addition recently introduced from Sacramento to Kona.

2018 saw the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, as well as some amendments to their change/cancellation policies and award flight redemptions. Although the change/cancellation amendments are negative with no free 60-day window permitted anymore, the award flights have positive and negative changes with some routes and classes requiring fewer miles.

But these changes don’t seem to have caused much of a fuss with Alaska’s loyal customers. It appears, in their eyes, that Alaska can do no wrong!


Featured Image: Courtesy of alaskaair.com.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.
She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (22 countries & counting)!

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9 comments

  1. Julian · April 5, 2019 · Reply

    Worst airline ever. Absolutely ridiculous customer service and failure to plan. The flight was delayed by 12 hours for maintenance and the horrible management team informed us in increments of 1 hour. I’m in full support of safety but what maintenance takes 12-13 hours? Cancel the flight if the repair will take that long. Our flight time was only 1 hr. No consideration for the customers. Should have canceled the flight instead of delaying for an absurd amount of time. Extremely poor planning. The delay caused me to have to pay for an extra day of dog boarding, and the POS management team did not want to reimburse me… a poor excuse for an airline. Don’t fly with them.

  2. Sarah B · June 29, 2019 · Reply

    I don’t trust this entire article after having my own experience. I can’t believe you have to pay $10 on a 5 hour flight for a dated iPad from them to watch movies. On Delta it’s free. Service was terrible. I gave Alaskan way too much credit reading a Forbes report and reports like this one. Somebody is slipping some money under a table. There’s no way they are the number one airline. Also, we had a connector with them, plane landed and sat on the runway waiting on a gate for 25 minutes, waited another 10 to de-board, and we were on the other end of the airport. Our next Alaskan flight decided to board early and had left us before we could even get off the other plane. The staff was incredibly rude to us, wasn’t even going to help us out basically just told us off and said it was our fault. They did nothing but talk down to us and belittle us. I’ve got a solid 50-60 flights under my belt with Delta. I know how to fly and I will not be told otherwise. Alaskan is awful. Not flying with any other airline but Delta. Delta helped us get home, thank goodness for them. Delta can run a company right, Alaskan don’t have a clue what customer service is.

    • Catherine Luther · June 30, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Sarah, sorry to hear of your experience. Thanks for sharing with readers.

  3. Pamela Mburo · August 9, 2019 · Reply

    The worst airline I ever dealt with. Being that it was my sister’s birthday, we had reservations to our destination (Maui) and scheduled to arrive in there by 2 pm. We approached the Alaska service desk at 5:30 am, 40 mins before our scheduled flight. As soon as the only agent at the counter-desk saw us approaching the counter, he rudely blurted out saying, “the gate is closed call customer service” as he raced passed us trying to evade us. My sister politely responded it’s only 5:30, our flight takes off in 40 mins. The agent/rep continued to be rude by asserting “ you needed to report here 2 hrs in Advance, the gate is closed” as he rushed off. My sister then asked him for the customer service # seeing that there was nobody else at the counter-desk. The agent then charged off and left us helpless alone. With time elapsing I managed to call Alaska airline’s service #1800-252-7522 that we were provided and the line was inactive. It is then that I resorted to contact my booking agent in hopes of getting Alaska airlines rep to assist us. My booking agent called Alaska airlines on my behalf via a conference call and Alaska was not willing accommodate us, period. Alaska airlines bluntly lied stating that there was no other flights flying to Maui that same day or the following day. We alerted the booking agency to convey that we were willing to be on stand by or connect to a different state as long as we reached our destination that day, but all was in vain. Alaska airlines in return stated that we needed to purchase a new flight itinerary all together. Keep in mind that I had insurance on my initial flight plus we were 3 passengers. I then inquired through my booking agent how will we be able to purchase a new flight itinerary when Alaska stated they were no other flights flying to Maui period. I never spoke with any Alaska airlines representatives, everything was conveyed via my booking agent to them and vice versa through the semi-conference call. I even alerted my booking agent to elaborate that we arrived 40 mins before departure. Domestic flights you’re normally instructed to report to the airport within 1 hr before take off, not 2 hrs in Advance like their agent was stating. Our reservation in Maui would be defaulted including hotel accommodations if we didn’t board the flight to Maui on 7/30/19, but Alaskan airlines did not care to assist us in any way. After 30 mins on the phone going back and forth with them through our booking agent; approximately at 6:12am, Alaska airlines stated the only thing we could do is file a claim before our scheduled flight takes off. Keep in mind our scheduled flight was due to take off within 2 mins at 6:15am. We were obligated to file the claim and up to now I have not heard from Alaskan Airlines. I just want my flight money refunded, I already lost a great deal of money due to cancelled pre-paid reservations in Maui scheduled for 7/30/19 for we were unable to reach our destination at our pre-scheduled time. If it wasn’t for United Airlines, my sister’s birthday and our trip would have been totally ruined. United worked tirelessly to get us in Maui on 7/30/2019 late evening after the ordeal with Alaska Airlines. We were also assured that Alaska Airlines did lie, for there were multiple flights flying to Maui on their database on 7/30/2019 and the following day.

    • S smith · August 28, 2019 · Reply

      Who shows up for a flight less than an hour before departure? Hawaii has many international connections etc, so they might require all points a 2 hr check in. Who does not check as to what that policy is for every airline and flight, and raised risk zone issues if current affairs?
      Insurance will not cover you being late for departure, just because you didn’t check any of the above. Did you have an accident on the way to airport? Might get some compensation with police report.
      Might have been other flights. But this is just before schools start, kids getting to school, last hooray before school, grandparents ramp up travel, and low season discount shoppers etc. ALL those flights might have been sold out. So yeas they had flights, no to last minute seating, for more than just a couple of people on each flight.

  4. Before Alaska and Virgin merged, Alaska was great. It has been downhill since and all I can say is they’re trying so hard to be a large company that they forgot how they got there. They’ve got the large company thing down now- super awesome to have bad customer service, bad in flight options (as compared to prior) and honestly a whole airline that no longer cares about their passengers.

  5. harold d picton · September 12, 2019 · Reply

    Is an Imogen oxygen concentrator, portable, battery-operated permitted for a passenger with COPD?

    Our party is booked 9/28/19 on BZN-SEA 2453 and then on SEA-HNL 983. Both are Alaska-Horizon flights. The reservations were not made at the same time. Will we be able to check our luggage in BZN directly to HLN? Can we have these treated as continuing flights so we don’t have to pick up luggage, check it and rush through security again in SEA after having gone through in BZN?

    • Hi Harold,

      If you need the Imogen Oxygen Concentrator during the flight for your COPD then yes you should be permitted to bring it on board. But please be advised that we are in no way affiliated with Alaska Airlines. For further information regarding this, you should contact the Alaska Airlines customer service team directly.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. chris Viverito · October 4, 2019 · Reply

    Wow, I have never been so underwhelmed in my life. This “first class” experience on Alaska between Honolulu and Portland was worse than most airlines economy plus.
    Let’s start out by saying that their website clearly stating they “always have vegetarian options” then we find out, they don’t, won’t accommodate us and won’t refund us.
    Then the plane, the seats were so old, they had to be from an old People Express plane from the ’70s, I am not sure there was any cushion left in any of them. They barely recline as well.
    The Digi players we received were about 18 months behind the times when it came to titles available and their streaming app didn’t work for owned devices. When we received the Digi players, they were both at 20% battery and lasted about 90 minutes.
    Once in Portland, I spoke with customer “service” 3 times and was actually told “we got you there, that’s what you paid us for” So that’s how they treat First Class customers. I know who I won’t be flying anymore. Fly Hawaiian Air where they treat you like humans and take care of their fleet of planes!

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