Home Airlines Alaska Vs. American – How A Similar Plane Can Feel So Different

Alaska Vs. American – How A Similar Plane Can Feel So Different

by joeheg

On a trip to San Francisco, we flew with American on our way there and with Alaska on the way home. We had to connect through Dallas on American, and our flight from there to SFO was on a 737-800. Our non-stop flight home from coast to coast was on an Alaska 737-900. I know there two aircraft aren’t identical but the onboard product is similar. What was shocking was that each aircraft couldn’t have felt more different.

Now that the airlines are going to be partners in Oneworld, I was interested in comparing the two on subsequent flights.

American 737-800 (Old Version)

Our American 737 still had the older seats and hadn’t been updated to the new Oasis configuration. I was thankful because I can’t sit in a slimline seat for more than 2 hours without having a massive backache at the end of the flight.

Here’s the legroom I had on the flight. SeatGuru lists this seat as having 31 inches of pitch.


I’m not kidding when I say that my knees were almost hitting the seat in front of me and I’m just shy of 6ft tall. There were power ports between the seats (2 plugs for 3 passengers) and I was able to work on my laptop, unlike on American’s A321 planes, where I find it impossible to type with my computer on the tray.

Alaska 737-900

The difference in Alaska’s seats was evident the moment I sat down. I had a good several inches from the seat in front of me. Amazingly, this seat is supposed to have the same 31 inches of pitch as the American seat.


We lucked out and had an empty middle seat where I could store my backpack. That meant I was able to stretch out. I find that difficult to do on some other planes, even with nothing under the seat, because of the odd angle of the seats.


This seat almost felt one I’d get if I paid for extra legroom on another airline.

Final Thoughts

It goes to show that just because you’re flying on the same type of aircraft, the airline you’re flying with and the design of the seats makes a massive difference in your comfort while onboard.

I’ve adjusted to American’s seats and know that I’ll have little room to move around unless I pay for Main Cabin Extra.

When I booked our flights on Alaska, I wasn’t looking forward to flying in an economy seat for 5 1/2 hours.  It turned out that this was one of the most comfortable trans-continental flights I’ve ever taken. I just wish Alaska flew to more than three cities on the west coast from Orlando because I’d sure like to fly with them more often.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Cover photo credit N272AK Alaska Airlines 2017 Boeing 737-990(ER) – cn 44112 / 6367” by Tomás Del Coro is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Fordbronx February 22, 2020 - 12:57 pm

we flew first on alaska from luau.dirtiest plane worst attendants.dated plane was particular dirty.warning sign was broken in half and seat was filthy.attitude worse: want do you want ME to do about it? Not my job!!!!!

Mike February 24, 2020 - 3:43 am

You mean to tell me there are planes with less leg room than Alaska? I’m a little over 6 feet tall and must purchase the Economy Plus, and even those are marginal.


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