I booked a last minute, discounted flight on 'the best US airline' for around $100, and I still can't believe how incredible the deal was
Joey Hadden/Business Insider
- Alaska Airlines has been ranked the best airline in the US two years in a row by Money, and it's been named the best traditional airline in North America by JD Power and Associates for 12 years straight.
- I recently flew with Alaska Air one-way from New York to Los Angeles for about $100 during a holiday weekend thanks to the airline's Saver Fare, which is essentially a basic economy ticket.
- I decided to take a last-minute trip to LA to visit my best friend for his birthday, and Alaska Airlines had the best available price online, which was well within my budget.
- Even though I booked my ticket only three weeks before my flight, the price was excellent, and I was shocked to find that I didn't have to compromise on the experience.
- I was able to bring a personal item and a carry-on bag for no additional cost, I received my seat assignment when I purchased my ticket, I was later given the option to upgrade my seat to a better class, and my in-flight experience was the same as someone else who'd paid more for a main cabin economy ticket.
- I was so impressed with the price, in fact, that I reached out to Scott Keyes, founder and CEO of discounted airfare newsletter Scott's Cheap Flights, to see how I scored such an excellent deal.
- Keyes told Business Insider that airlines no longer make the majority of their money from economy fares. Instead, they rely heavily on upgrades, first-class fares, miles, and cargo space to make their money. So don't be too surprised if you find your own discounted fare on an economy seat.
- I would hop on another basic economy flight with Alaska in a heartbeat. Here's why.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
I arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport at approximately 6:20 a.m. — just a little more than an hour before my flight. As soon as I stepped into the airport, all I had to do was look to the left to see where Alaska's patrons check-in.
But I didn't have to check-in because I checked in the day before from my phone.Advertisement
And I didn't need to check any bags because I only had one carry-on suitcase and one personal item. Stowing these bags in the airplane cabin is included in the price of the ticket.
The line at security wasn't too long, and before I knew it I was headed to my gate. On the way, I saw Alaska airplanes out the airport windows.Advertisement
Alaska had its own cluster of gates at my terminal in Newark Airport, and in the center, there is food available for purchase.
At 7 a.m., some of the gates were mostly empty ...Advertisement
... but a few others, like mine, were very crowded.
I decided to sit across from my gate so that I could see what was going on without sacrificing my personal space.Advertisement
When I got settled, I began rearranging my personal bag, since it was hand-checked by the TSA.
While waiting to board, I enjoyed the morning light coming in through the windows all around the diameter of the room.Advertisement
I also decided to check out the Alaska Air app to see what it had to offer me.
The app included basic information about my flight and my boarding pass.Advertisement
It also showed me my seat assignment ...
... included a tracker of my plane's route ...Advertisement
... and some more information that one might find helpful...
... like the type of plane I was about to board, which was a Boeing 737-900 Aircraft.Advertisement
The app also showed menu items available for purchase on my flight complete with descriptions and pictures.
While scrolling through the app, it also informed me that for an additional $100, I could upgrade to premium class. For a sweet moment, I thought about this, but then I was swept back to reality when it was time to board.Advertisement
I was in group E, the last group to board the plane. "E for everyone" the gate employee called out when it was my group's turn to board.
The boarding process began 30 minutes later than scheduled, so people seemed anxious about getting to their seats.Advertisement
When we got to the actual plane, I noticed that there were still employees packing luggage into the plane.
I was starting to think I would arrive in LA later than expected as I was welcomed aboard.Advertisement
My seat was at the very back of the plane, so I knew I had a long way to go as we inched deeper and deeper into the cabin.
My seat was very close to the bathrooms.Advertisement
But I had an aisle seat, which was nice ...
... especially considering the amount of leg room I had directly in front of me. The seat pitch was around 32 inches, which is average for an economy seat, according to Trip Savvy — not the worst, but not the roomiest, either.Advertisement
By the time I was settled, a flight attendant was already demonstrating emergency safety procedures.
While she was talking, I noticed how thin the seats seemed. They weren't especially comfortable or uncomfortable.Advertisement
The seats were 17 inches wide, they reclined, and their slim form allowed for more negative space between seats and rows.
Though I couldn't help but long for a slightly larger tray table.Advertisement
It couldn't fit much more than my Nintendo DS and a soda.
There were printed menus in the pocket on the seat in front of each person.Advertisement
They showed meals available for all flights, rather than only the meals available for the current flight.
For entertainment, Alaska Air patrons were encouraged to download the Gogo Entertainment app, which has hundreds of options for movies and shows to watch. Unfortunately, none of these options sounded good to me on my tiny phone screen. I prefer when flights have screens on the back of each seat.Advertisement
Not too long after taking off, flight attendants came around with food and beverage carts.
The only available free snack was this tiny package of Biscoff cookies ...Advertisement
... which I devoured in seconds.
Luckily, I brought my own snacks.Advertisement
I was able to charge my phone during the flight, thanks to the USB port in front of me. Alaska has USB ports for each seat on all of their planes, while many competing airlines only offer this luxury on some of their planes, according to Lifehacker.
The plane had all the passenger controls that most flights have.Advertisement
This plane had three bathrooms, so the lines stayed short.
The bathroom I used was tiny. This didn't bother me, but it might bother a larger person.Advertisement
The time between take off and landing went by fairly uneventfully.
Luckily I brought my own devices to help pass the time during my six-hour flight.Advertisement
Although the plane took off a little late, I was pleasantly surprised when we landed in Los Angeles 15 minutes early. Overall, this was a sufficiently average economy flight —much better than I was expecting considering the cost — and it was definitely worth the low price.
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