***This is part 1 my trip report detailing a recent trip to Maui, Hawaii. You can catch up on all the other installments in the links below***
1. Alaska Airlines First Class San Jose to Maui
2. Montage Kapalua Bay
3. Eating Maui – Road to Hana, Hawaiian BBQ, and Shave Ice
In recent years I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to the Maldives and the Seychelles. But while the Maldives and Seychelles provide ultra-exclusive island getaways, they also have the price tag to match, and are a 24+ hour journey each way from the USA.
As beautiful and amazing as those destinations were, as I reflect on those trips, what I really walk away with is a renewed appreciation for just how lucky I am to have Hawaii in my backyard. From the West Coast it’s less than a 5 hour direct flight to the Hawaiian islands, and they are chock full of mainstream chain hotels to use points at. Also, since you’re still in the USA, it’s easy to drive around and there’s worrying about cell phone service.
Depending on which island you visit, Hawaii can hang with the best island destinations out there in terms of scenery, activities, and beaches. So all things considered, in my opinion as far as island vacations go, it really doesn’t get much better than Hawaii. And to make things even more exciting, while I’d previously visited Honolulu and Kauai, this would be my first trip to Maui.
Our flights to Maui would be somewhat of a deja vu as we’d essentially be flying the same product that we took to Honolulu. Also, in both cases I utilized Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card companion pass to purchase the 2nd ticket for just $121 including taxes. Since the companion pass no longer can be used on First Class tickets, I used the workaround for MVP Gold elites and above to purchase a U-up fare, which is an economy ticket that automatically upgrades to First Class. So all in, that meant that I effectively purchased 2 First Class seats for about $350 each, which is a great deal.
We arrived at SJC just 15 minutes prior to the start of boarding, and made it through security and to the gate in under 5 minutes. I love that airport.
We were among the first to board and found our seats in row 3. Alaska’s First Class hard product is pretty good, but can feel a bit cramped in terms of leg room, especially when the person in front of you fully reclines.
But where Alaska Airlines really shines is with the service. This flight was no exception, and we received fantastic service throughout the flight from the cheery flight attendants. Pre-departure drinks started off with POG (passion, orange, guava) juice, both with and without bubbly. Despite the 9AM departure time, the flight attendant gave us grief for passing on the POG mimosas and opting just for the juice.
Shortly after take-off, breakfast service started with drink orders and a bag of snack mix.
I also grabbed a Digiplayer, which are complimentary for First Class passengers, since the streaming entertainment through Alaska Beyond is no longer free. The breakfast menu looked pretty darn appetizing, and I settled on the cheese blintz.
The meal started off with a fruit plate and danish.
The cheese blintz with pineapple compote was really, really good.
After breakfast and one Kevin Hart movie later, next thing I knew we were beginning our descent into Maui. Island landings never get old.
Given the similar nature of the flight home, I’ll cover it here rather than writing up a separate post. We had arrived at the airport a couple hours prior to departure, which gave me the opportunity to plane-watch at the gate.
One final view of Maui during take-off, and then we were cruising at 38,000 ft. for the 5-hour flight back to San Jose.
The flight product was virtually identical on the way back, and in particular, the service was equally amazing.
Dinner was served about an hour after take-off, and my wife and I ordered the pork and chicken entrees to share. And by “share”, that means she took a bite of each and I ate the rest.
The duck spring roll appetizer was probably a bit too ambitious, and ended up being a cold, soggy blob served on a plate.
But both entrees, and in particular the chicken, were quite tasty.
And to finish things off, the Hawaiian bread pudding was served about an hour after dinner service.
With the time difference and an afternoon departure from Hawaii, that left a late-night arrival back to the West Coast, which was especially dreadful with an early morning start at work the next day.
I’ve written extensively about my love for Alaska Airlines, which in my opinion not only has the best loyalty program among domestic airlines, but also the best overall in-flight product as well. These two flights were consistent with my prior experiences, and only further solidified my loyalty to them going forward.