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When having to travel between Seattle and Anchorage, AK, you have multiple airline options with numerous nonstop flights or a handful of single stop connection cities. Plus, one of a couple different multi-stop routes. Those routes are called The Milk Runs.
I'm here to tell you two main things. One, what the heck is a Milk Run in the airline world, and two, what my experiences were flying on this once in a lifetime route.
Let's start off with the fundamental question, which I am sure is on your mind at this point. "What is The Great Alaskan Milk Run?" Back in the old days when rural towns such as Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and Wrangell, Alaska needed milk they would call up Alaska Airlines, based down in Seattle and have milk shipped to the towns on a regular basis, sometimes every day. Nowadays milk may not be the number one thing sent to these Alaskan towns, but these milk runs allow for people in these rural areas to get products and supplies vital to living, especially in the winter months when barge shipping isn't an option. But Alaska ships these products in the cargo hold, allowing passengers to hop aboard and essentially plane hop, on the same aircraft, through multiple Alaskan towns all the way from Seattle to Anchorage.
Being the passionate AvGeek that I am, as soon as I found this route and a decent price. I booked my seat and boy, was I in for a real beautiful treat. I flew onboard Alaska Airlines flight #67 the 15:30 departure from Seattle to Anchorage with stops in Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau. My aircraft was a 10-year-old Boeing 737-800 registered N593AS. She took me through all four flights of my journey.
One neat fact that I learned about at the beginning was, people get on and off in each city that we land in. To my knowledge, I was the only person who continued on the full routing up to ANC. We were scheduled to leave at 15:30 local time in Seattle and arrive into Anchorage after the three stops at 22:45 local time with a minus one-hour time difference.
I sat in seat 28F from SEA-KTN-SIT-JNU, and seat 18A from JNU-ANC. The views from both seats did not disappoint one bit. As always on Alaska from the second I boarded the first sector to the last second before I deplaned in Anchorage, I was shown outstanding service by the wonderful Alaska Airlines flight attendants. We had two sets of flight attendants. One from SEA-JNU and another just for the JNU-ANC sector. Our pilots flew the whole route as I did. I guess that means at least three people flew on the full route!
Marshall, Samantha, Megan, and Taylor were the FA's on the first three legs, and I must say they were some of the best FA's that I have ever seen in the sky in the 500 + flights I have taken. Their dedication to the customer was indeed felt and shown.
The first flight to Ketchikan was 1:27 minutes long, so, the full service was provided as we went up the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada. After landing in KTN, I went into the small terminal to look round as I did in each city we stopped in. In each city we had around a 45-minute ground time to allow local passengers to deplane and for new passengers to board. One fascinating fact about KTN is that the airport is located on an island that is only accessible by ferry from town. So be sure to allow enough time to get to your plane!
Next was a stunning 30-minute scenic flight up to Sitka. The mountainous terrain mixed in with a slowly setting sun made for quite the sight from behind the wing in 28F. Only orange juice and bottled water were offered on this segment. I was told that Sitka has a famous pie-shop in the airport by our flight attendants Samantha and Marshall. So, of course, once we landed, I had to deplane, check out the tiny terminal, and get some pie. And yes, it was delicious and worth going back through TSA to get. I had the chocolate peanut butter cream pie, and it tasted just like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!
The third flight was even shorter. A 23-minute flight, cruising at flight level 160 (16,000 feet) up to Juneau. No service was provided due to the short flight duration. JNU has three gates and a small but decent sized terminal. Here is where the flight attendants switched, and we got a new crew. Most passengers continuing to Anchorage deplaned in Juneau first, although like every stop, you were not required to. Once re-boarding for the 4th time I found my new seat 18A and took my seat. All of the Alaska Airlines B737-800's have an excellent seat pitch of around 32 inches and a personal charging outlet conveniently placed on each seat. This last portion was the longest of all the flights with a flight time of one hour and thirty-four minutes. A full service was provided on this leg as well. This was also the emptiest flight with only around a 60% load factor.
We landed gracefully into Anchorage 45 minutes early at 22:00 local time, and even though it was raining, the sun was still out. That is just one of the crazy facts about Alaska in the summertime. The sun sets after 21:30 and rises again at 3:00.
Overall my "Milk Run" was superb and will forever be a memorable flight experience. I want to thank all of the Alaska Airlines personnel for making this unique route so much fun to fly.
If you have the time and want to see some beautiful views, I would suggest flying aboard on one of The Great Alaskan Milk Runs!
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