Monday, June 1, 2015

Alaska announces Portland-Austin, Eugene-San Jose service

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines will begin non-stop flights between two new city pairs on Nov. 5 when it launches service between Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas; and between Eugene, Oregon and San Jose, California.

The new flights were announced by the airline’s CEO Brad Tilden June 1 in a keynote speech at a Seattle conference hosted by the Airports Council International – North America.

"San Jose and Austin are two of our most requested cities from our customers in the Willamette Valley," John Kirby, Alaska's vice president of capacity planning, said in a statement issued following Tilden’s announcement. "[O]ur new flight to San Jose is our first-ever nonstop from
Alaska 737 departs SEA
Eugene to the Bay Area. These routes will also connect key tech markets in three states." Flights to Austin will depart Portland International Airport (PDX) at 9:50 a.m. daily, arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) at 3:50 p.m. Return flights will leave AUS at 4:35 p.m., arriving at PDX at 6:55 p.m.

Daily flights from Eugene will leave Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG) at 4:20 p.m. and arrive at San Jose’s Norm Mineta Airport (SJC) at 5:50 p.m. Return flights will depart SJC at 5:50, arriving at EUG at 7:20 p.m.

Tickets will be available for purchase beginning June 9.

News of the expanded service was heralded as beneficial to tourism as well as general economic growth in the affected areas.

"Nonstop service to San Jose is a critical piece of the puzzle in supporting the exciting growth of start-ups and technology companies we are experiencing here in the Willamette Valley," Dave Hauser, president of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce said.

The Eugene-San Jose flight will be operated by Alaska's sister carrier Horizon Air, using a 76-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft and, typical of regional jets, space is at a premium. According to SeatGuru.com, the 76 single-class seats are 17 inches wide, among the narrowest in the industry, with pitch of 31 inches.

Customers flying on flights operated by Horizon are offered free soft drinks and Starbucks coffee, a la cart planeside baggage service, and complimentary Northwest wine and microbrews for passengers of legal drinking age.

The Portland-Austin flights will be operated for Alaska by SkyWest Airlines, using new 76-seat Embraer 175 jets which offer 12 First Class seats and 64 seats in the main cabin. Cabin dimensions on par with a Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737, the airline said. The First Class seats will have 37 inches of pitch while main cabin seats will have either 31 or 34 inches, an airline representative told TheTravelPro in an email, though the representative did not provide details about seat widths.  For comparison, Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) operates Embraer 175 jets that have the same number of seats and pitches that the new Alaska equipment will have. Those planes have First Class seats that are 20 inches wide and economy seats that are 18.25 inches wide, again per SeatGuru.

Onboard amenities include Wi-Fi Internet access and streaming in-flight entertainment throughout the aircraft, as well as 110-volt power at every first class seat. Food and beverage for purchase will include hot meals, picnic packs, and Northwest microbrews and wine.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK).

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photo by Carl Dombek
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