The Pacific Northwest is perhaps one of my favourite locations in the world. This generally encompass the coastal cities of Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and Vancouver, BC. These are cities with a multi-cultural diversity, some of the nicest climates in summer, and mild winters (even though it is gloomy and wet) with great mountain resorts. However by my desire to reside in the Pacific Northwest, there are few cheap tickets originating from here. This is because neither SEA or YVR are that big of an airport like LAX or SFO, which are the general hubs on the West Coast. This means that there is less supply of airline seats and thus higher prices in general.
And since I have lived in Vancouver the past year or so, it is frustrating to fly on Air Canada as they act like a big monopoly and thus domestic travels within Canada are sometimes expensive. Though as many Canadian residents still desire to fly, they tend to be driven to fly from US Airports across the border. This was what I did for my last trip to Southern California, travelling to Los Angeles from Seattle. Even considering the one night hotel stay, the fuel and the parking at the airport in Seattle, I still saved money for the travel expenses to Los Angeles in comparison to travelling from Vancouver. I learnt about the transborder leakage problem from my MBA classes and it is indeed growing to be a bigger problem, as discussed here.
However this arrangement might not always be the most convenient and that is why Alaska Airlines flies 3 destinations from Vancouver, that is to Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. With its hub from Seattle, Alaska Airlines flies to nearly all the major US Cities, including New York and Washington. It also flies to other Pacific Northwest destinations like Edmonton, Calgary, Kelowna and Victoria in addition to vacation destinations like Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and 4 points of arrival in Hawaii. This makes it convenient for the average leisure traveller. For the frequent US traveller on business, Alaska Airline also has a very generous unlimited (with caveats) upgrades to Domestic First Class once attaining ‘elite’ status.
But the best part of joining Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is how the airline allows earning miles on flights with its airline partners like American Airlines, Air France, Delta, KLM, Emirates, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways and LAN. This is great for someone who is not bent on flying Star Alliance flights or is seeking an alternative to the de-valued Aeroplan mileage program. One of the best rewards of collecting airline miles is the redemption possibility of flying real ‘First Class’ (of which Air Canada does not have) and Alaska Airlines also offers redemption possibilities on its airline partners. It is worth noting that Emirates, Korean Air and Qantas has First Class on the Airbus A380 which is one of those airline cabins worth flying in. British Airways is also getting its A380 soon and should have its new First Class soon. Meanwhile Cathay Pacific still has an amazing First Class cabin and its First Class lounge at Hong Kong has just completed renovations and features enclosed cabanas with a huge spa bathtub. Now that is really ‘First Class’…
And that is one of the reason I have joined the Mileage Plan. In addition to just joining the Mileage Plan, the Alaska Airline MasterCard is also worth applying for. It has a $75 annual fee which is one of the lowest considering it earns 1 mile per $1 spent on all spending and 3 miles per $1 on Alaska Air flights. But it gives card holders a 25,000 bonus miles upon approval, so I figured the annual fee is worth it just for the bonus miles. Plus there is the perk of buying a companion fare starting from US$110 so depending on where you are headed to, the annual fee can be worth it.
Just for disclaimer purposes, I do not hold any shares in Alaska Airlines, nor do I work for the company or have any family members standing to gain from my promotion here. Though they are an airline company I would most probably invest in if I were to pick one airline stock to buy.