ALASKA AIRLINES TO CANCUN
Ten years ago who would have thought that the best thing to happen to Cancun would be Alaska Airlines? Certainly not Carlos Fiesta. Or even Alaska Airlines founder Mac Mc Gee, the daring flyboy who started it all back in 1932 when he bought his first Stinson floatplane. But after putting up with fair to marginal service from several different Mexico based airlines, Alaska Airlines has indeed come to the rescue for the Cancun air traveler.
Alaska Airlines has taken the excellent service that has made them famous in the U.S. and taken it south of the border. The term 'Excellent Service' is something the Mexican airlines just couldn't quite figure out. Now, however, they might be able to follow the lead of Alaska Airlines, who has had excellent service figured out for years now.
Just so you don't get the wrong idea, Cancun Expo has no relationship with Alaska Airlines and has no reason to shine their spinner without due cause. On the contrary, Cancun Expo once contacted Alaska Airlines to see if they were interested in becoming a sponsor on the Mexico Expo web sites. They politly told Carlos Fiesta "No thanks, but have a nice day". But Carlos holds no grudges and besides, there's no stopping a great airline.
Although Alaska has connections from all across the United States with it's Partner Ships (codeshare partners), Los Angeles International Airport is a major hub for Alaska customers with a hankering to slip south to the land of cold cervesas and hot tortillas. They are located in Terminal 3 on the north side of LAX, and take up a fair number of gates in that terminal for their flights to Cancun, Cabo, Baja and mainland Mexico.
Alaska Airline Partner Ships currently include American Airlines, American Eagle, Continental Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Northwest Airlines. This list of code share partners is subject to change, but you get the idea. Alaska tries hard to make your trip to Mexico easy.
Checking in at the Alaska Airlines counter at LAX is a pretty simple process. For those who aren't afraid to interface with a touch-screen kiosk, the process takes about 4 to 5 minutes before moving on to the next stage...checking in their luggage at the main counter. For those who just aren't too keen on the idea of checking in without talking to a human being, the line to the far right accommodates those who want to check in with a real live person.
Hanging out at the Alaska Airlines Mexico departure gates (down the long hall, to the left) is a good way to get into the feel of your Mexico vacation early. Folks around the terminal are hanging out and checking in for flights to Cancun, Los Cabos, Loreto, Guadalajara, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. It's kind of like a pre-departure party...but different.
The Alaska Airlines gates at LAX usually include gates 31-A, 31-B, 32, 33-A, 33-B, and gates 34. At any one given time most of these gates will be setting up for a Mexico departure. Yep, there are a few folks in the terminal headed for New Jersey, but they are easy to spot. They are the ones who aren't smiling.
The terminal area near the Alaska gates offers a Starbucks, a well stocked magazine stand, a sportsbar/restaurant plus an ample supply of telephones and bathrooms. Internet access is available for a fee ($3 minimum), and the terminal even has an outdoor area for those who have to have that last cigarrette before getting on board their flight to Paradise.
There is also a check-in kiosk for those who are of the carry-on-only persuasion, allowing them to completely skip out on the check-in crowd downstairs. Few people use this upstairs check in option so it's a great way to go for those who are running behind schedule (as long as no luggage is involoved).
For those not traveling out of LAX the Alaska Airlines terminal at San Francisco International Airport is located in Terminal 1, in Seattle/Tacoma drop by Concourse C, in Portland swagger over to Terminal C, in Anchorage shiver on over to Concourse C, in Boston it's Terminal B, in Chicago it's Concourse L, and in Vancouver it's the International Terminal. Coming from El Paso Texas? Sorry...you can't get here from there.
Alaska is set up to accommodate those hungry hombres who didn't have a chance to eat before boarding (unless you are traveling between San Diego and Los Cabos). For $5 you can buy a Turkey Sandwhich Wrap when heading southbound or a Cheeseburger and Chips northbound. Morning southbound flights offer a Grilled Sausage and Egg Breakfast Sandwich. Beer and wine is also available on board for a fee, and sodas, tea, coffee, water and juices are still free.
Keep in mind that when returning from Cancun Mexico the plane will not be dropping you off at these same gates. Flights returning from Mexico to LAX usually unload at the Bradley International Terminal, which is located several hundred yards west and south of Terminal 3.
Alaska Ailines has a nice fleet of Boeing 737's with most of those being 737-400's, followed by 737-700's as well as a fair number of MD 80's. Alaska has a few 737-800's on the way, which will be their newest and nicest birds in the sky.
For additional information call Alaska Airlines toll free at (800) ALASKAAIR or drop by their easy to navigate web site at www.alaskaair.com.
Watching the clock prior to departure with Alaska Airlines....
Carlos Fiesta's Hot Tip
Alaska Airlines allows their customers to check in on the Web up to 30 hours before the departure of the flight. The on-line seat selection helps you garner that coveted window or isle seat, and your boarding pass can be printed from your home or office computer. Now that's pretty hot from an airline named Alaska!