As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
At Outside, we’re all about scoring reasonable airfare to cool places that we can sneak off to for the weekend, and we’re definitely not going to hit the rental shop when we get there. You better believe that I’m going to haul our surfboard to Costa Rica and bring our whole quiver for an Alaska ski trip. There’s no need to feel guilty about that, either, because on Alaska Airlines, gear counts as your first bag, and it’s only $25 (same goes for the second bag).
That’s just one of the reasons we (and the Points Guy, among others) love this airline. Here are nine more:
- A robust flight schedule with lots of destinations that just got even better. After its 2016 acquisition of Virgin America, Alaska Airlines has more nonstop destinations from the West Coast and more West Coast hubs than any other carrier. What’s more, the union will allow Alaska to expand across the country, so now everyone can experience its superiority.
- Low prices and fees.
- A mileage rewards program that actually feels rewarding. It gives you a point for every mile you fly, not how much you shell out for your ticket. And if you have the rewards card, you get a free companion pass every year so you can bring your favorite adventure buddy along.
- The cabins don’t feel like flying buses.
- The airline treats its people well. Employees are frequently described as “empowered,” which I don’t need to tell you is superior to their counterparts, whose only recourse when shit hits the fan is to say, “I’m sorry, ma’am, there’s nothing I can do for you.” Alaska employees have the discretion to do things like waive flight-change fees, offer meal vouchers, or give out free Wi-Fi codes without calling their supervisor.
- Early boarding for those wearing the jersey of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (the company’s “chief football officer”).
- Serves West Coast fare à la chef Tom Douglas and from local companies like Tillamook cheese and Tim’s Cascade chips. It sounds ridiculous, but I know people who choose to fly Alaska just so they can order the famous cheese plate. The last time I flew Alaska, a flight attendant whipped me up a specialty cocktail for no reason at all.
- Alaska makes me feel at ease, joyful even, when flying. For some inexplicable reason, it makes me want to tag my Instagrams with #IFlyAlaska. Who says that about air travel? All I can say is that when flying other airlines, especially the budget carriers, I go into a travel day essentially bracing to get screwed, rehearsing arguments with customer service before a problem even arises. Flying Alaska feels easy because I know I’m going to be taken care of, especially if something goes awry, and that’s the real dream.
- But seriously, that cheese plate.