Is Alaska Airlines first class worth it?

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Alaska Airlines is known for its incredible partnerships with international and domestic airlines alike, which provide travelers with unbelievable value when redeeming their Alaska miles (even if they’ve never actually flown the airline)!

While many travelers end up transferring their points and miles to Alaska Airlines’ partners because of these great deals, if you live near an Alaska Airlines hub, consider keeping your miles and flying first class right on Alaska. It is definitely worth it. 

For Alaska Airlines elite members, flying first class won’t cost you a penny extra because the airline offers unlimited complimentary first class upgrades to elite status members of all tiers. Even if you aren’t an elite member, flying first class on Alaska Airlines will not disappoint. 

(Photo by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock)

Perks of flying first class with Alaska Airlines

The perks of flying first class on Alaska Airlines are exceptional and lengthy. Here’s everything you can expect when you book a first-class seat on the airline:

  • Two free checked bags
  • Expedited check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • Express security screening at select airports
  • 75% more Mileage Plan bonus miles
  • Complimentary access to the Alaska Lounge
  • High-speed internet and WiFi access
  • Food and beverage service on all flights over 670 miles and the ability to pre-order selections via the mobile app
  • Complimentary snack baskets, bottled water and alcoholic beverages on flights over 350 miles
  • Fruit and cheese platters available for pre-order on flights over 670 miles
  • Spacious, reclining seats with footrests, tablet holders and cup holders
  • Flight attendant dedicated to the first class cabin for personalized service

It’s clear that flying first class on Alaska Airlines can get you a decent bang for your buck. 

Average cost of flying first class with Alaska Airlines

The average cost of flying first class on Alaska Airlines is between $650 and $1,050 for domestic flights. While this is a bit pricey, the perks of Alaska Airlines first class pay for themselves even at this price. International first class seats on Alaska Airlines easily cost at least $1,500 and can go up to be in the tens of thousands, but that is typical for most airlines.

If you’re a part of Alaska’s rewards program or have one of their credit cards, you can upgrade your ticket to first class for 15,000 miles. If you’re an elite status member, you’ll get unlimited complimentary first class upgrades when space is available. You can also pay to upgrade your seat to first class, which costs anywhere from $29-$199 on domestic flights, depending on your flight’s distance and date.

Alaska Airlines first class vs other airlines

In terms of pricing, a domestic first class ticket on Alaska Airlines is more expensive than most other carriers, but their benefits are also better. Alaska Airlines has committed to keeping their food and beverage service, even during the pandemic, while other airlines like American have scaled back considerably or cancelled it altogether.

Alaska Airlines has also just upgraded their first class seats to custom-designed Recaro leather. Each seat is equipped with power outlets, generous recline, footrests, tablet holders and easy-to-reach cupholders. They’re also in the process of upgrading their aircraft to satellite Wi-Fi in the first class cabin, which is 20x faster than the standard air-to-ground system. While other airlines have comfortable seats and Wi-Fi in their first class cabins, Alaska Airlines goes the extra mile.

Flying first class during the pandemic 

Alaska Airlines is committed to making flying a safe experience for all travelers amid the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean their first class service is lacking now compared to before. The airline is requiring all passengers to wear a mask while onboard, and they’ve upgraded their air filtration systems on all planes. Plus, the airline has permanently eliminated change fees on all their flights so that you can book with ease.

As for service, Alaska Airlines has found innovative ways to keep its exceptional level of service. The first class cabin has gone wholly virtual, and now passengers pre-order and pay for food all through their Alaska Airlines mobile app. This limits interactions between the flight crew and the passenger while still providing great service. But, food and beverage services are unavailable on flights under 350 miles. For trips 351 miles to 670 miles, pre-order and contactless payment will be available for soda, tea, water, wine and beer and complimentary snack bags will be provided. For trips over 670 miles, full-service meals will be available, including fruit and cheese platters and smoked turkey sandwiches.

Additionally, Alaska Airlines has also made the information in the seatback collateral available on your own device through their app. Besides these few virtual changes, you can expect most things to be the same when flying first class on Alaska Airlines.

Bottom line

Flying first class on Alaska Airlines is worth it. This is especially true for elite status members of all tiers because they get first class upgrades for free. If you’re not an elite member and fly Alaska Airlines at all, consider joining for that perk alone. But even for travelers not in the program, the perks that come with Alaska Airlines first class are simply unbeatable and blow most of their competitors out of the water. 

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Alexandra Maloney is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel. She's worked as a writing consultant for the University of Richmond and is a features writer for The Collegian UR.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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