Trip Report to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Lounge at SFO, SFO – PVR on Alaska Air
While I was packing, I remembered that I had some Lounge Club cards and I had not taken advantage of the two free annual passes that is built in.
The Chase Ink Bold used to offer the Lounge Club card (and the first two passes of the calendar year, free, as a benefit). Lounge visits after that would be charged (still a discounted rate off the typical price, most often). When Chase and Lounge Club discontinued the relationship, Lounge Club cardmembers were free to use the card until it expired. I still had two Lounge Club cards that expired at the end of March 2016, so it was a perfect opportunity to optimize the benefits, since I had used neither one.
A quick but important aside: make sure to read the T&Cs to verify the benefits and schedule time after you use the card to followup. After cardmember benefits change, sometimes things can be lost in translation and you may be charged for something that you shouldn’t be (because you are grandfathered in). In my case, I set a calendar reminder to review the credit cards the Lounge Club cards are attached to, to make sure no charges were incurred. I’ve had many instances where a quick call avoided $100+ charges.
Using Lounge Club at the Air France Lounge at SFO
There was no problem using my card at this lounge. I had been to this lounge before and know that the food selection is small, so we had breakfast with a friend before our 9am flight. The staff is friendly and the view of the tarmac is delightful. I made some mimosas for us since it seemed appropriate to get the party started early.
But then we felt that we needed to balance our diet with some cultures so we also had parfaits. I also find that having dairy immediately once getting to a new destination helps your stomach start to adjust to the local cultures (in many ways). And who doesn’t like parfaits? They are delicious!
When we arrived at the gate we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we had been upgraded to first, likely due to these variables that can increase you chance of upgrade:
- Several months advanced purchase of the fare
- Choose a mid week flight (and it was half full)
- Have MVP Gold status.
The seat is a standard domestic first seat – similar to what you’ll find on AA or United. It’s Alaska’s soft product that makes them one of the premier US airlines. A welcome beverage was offered – more mimosas? Why, yes! And about an hour in we were offered a grilled chicken salad with bacon and bleu cheese. The garlic bread was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The Mrs. ate mine too after devouring hers…but she made up for it by giving me her brownie, which I liked better anyway.
Although the seat was wider and had more legroom, the recline wasn’t that much more than in economy. The angle necessitates a neck pillow for us to sleep comfortably. Thankfully since discovering the Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow, we have had very good sleep experiences on flights, even short 1 hour hops.
The Mrs. can fall asleep anywhere and at anytime (not quite narcolepsy), which is a very good skill to have to rest and recharge as needed. However, in the past, she would get neck pain and knots from the awkward sleeping angles. Not anymore with this highly-rated neck pillow! The high sides help keep the head in place, to prevent overextension of muscles/ligaments and unnecessary compression on nerve endings.
After the meal and a wonderful nap, we were about an hour out, so I played around with the in-flight internet. I discovered an interesting feature exclusively for T-mobile customers on AS flights – FREE TEXTING!?
I tested it out to a friend in SF and it worked! One caveat is that it does not send iMessages, but rather real text messages.
The landing was smooth and uneventful, but once we got to the immigration, we were in for a rude awakening.
In my next post, I will share this experience as well as our hotel planning experience, so grab a mimosa and come back for the next post!