Review: The New Alaska Airlines Lounge in Seattle (SEA)
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In June, Alaska Airlines opened a new lounge at its home airport in Seattle. Thanks to the Priority Pass membership I have through my Platinum Card from American Express, I was able to stop by and check out the space on my way to Las Vegas a few weeks ago. The new lounge boasts a fresh design with high ceilings and lots of natural light, and while some of the amenities come up short, it’s arguably the nicest of Alaska’s three locations at SeaTac.
Located by the end of the C terminal like the other Alaska lounges at SeaTac Airport, the new lounge is open daily from 5:00am to midnight — it’s convenient if you’re actually flying Alaska Airlines out of the C gates, but a bit out of the way otherwise. SeaTac’s north train loop stops close to the lounge, so taking the tram may be faster than walking if you’re coming from the D gates. Wherever you’re coming from, find your way to gate C16A and you’ll see the entrance to your left.
Take the elevator or stairs up to the main landing, where you’ll find two check-in desks. Only one receptionist is shown in the picture below, but both desks were staffed during my visit. The lounge seemed to have plenty of hands on deck generally, and the staff were attentive and helpful.
In case there’s a wait, Alaska Lounge members can also check themselves in biometrically using one of the tablets stationed along the opposite wall.
There was no line when I arrived around 8:15am, so I was able to get in quickly after showing my boarding pass and Priority Pass card. Alaska Airlines recently began limiting guest access for Priority Pass members in its lounges, and the new policy was clearly indicated at the front desk.
The staff I spoke with said overcrowding hasn’t been an issue in Alaska’s Seattle lounges since the new facility opened, but Priority Pass members may still be denied entry if the space is full.
Layout and Seating
Alaska’s new lounge covers 4,650 square feet; that’s only 150 more than the recently expanded Seattle Centurion Lounge, but the high ceilings and abundant natural light make the Alaska lounge feel much larger.
The main seating area comprises two rows of furniture set along the lounge’s western wall. Roughly half of the space’s 87 seats are found here.
The cushy green armchairs are set in groups of four with coffee tables between them. From there, you’ll get an excellent view of the taxiway and runways, with the Olympic Mountains visible in the background on a clear day.
The smaller blue corner chairs are a good fit for couples or solo travelers.
Beyond the large water feature is a cluster of eight large, swiveling armchairs. These are partially enclosed for greater privacy, but I found them to be less comfortable than the other seating options.
The rear section of the lounge houses an ample bar area with more casual seating. Due to a local ordinance, there are no chairs at the bar itself, but you’ll find an assortment of tables, benches and individual chairs nearby.
If you’re looking for somewhere to lie down, your best bet is this longer bench spot in the corner along the blue wall.
Throughout the lounge, most seats have built-in power, and the rest at least have outlets in the vicinity. In any case, you should have no trouble finding somewhere to charge your electronics.
Food and Beverage
The self-serve dining area sits at the center of the room. The limited menu is comparable to what you’ll find in most domestic airline lounges — breakfast is served from 5:00am to 11:00am and consists mostly of an oatmeal bar, whole fruit (apples, bananas and oranges), yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and an assortment of baked goods.
The other hot option in the morning is the self-serve pancake machine.
There’s an assortment of sodas, juices and teas, along with an automatic Starbucks coffee machine.
The later menus are equally basic. Lunch and dinner are served from noon to 7:00pm and feature a soup of the day, a fresh salad bar and various snacks, like pretzels and cookies. From 7:00pm until the lounge closes at midnight, the salad bar is replaced by snacks such as cut veggies, cheese and crackers.
The bar has its own selection of beverages. Complimentary drinks include Coors and Coors Light in cans; Alaskan Amber, Seattle Cider and rotating seasonal microbrews on tap, four wines and various spirits. Premium wines and spirits cost $7, with a few wine bottles also available for $20.
Overall, I think the dining options here are uninspiring. If you just need a light snack or a drink, this lounge is adequate; otherwise, I’d head for the Centurion Lounge or the newer Delta Sky Club between Terminals A and B.
Amenities and Wi-Fi
The Alaska lounge offers standard amenities, but nothing beyond that. The bathrooms are clean and spacious, but don’t include shower suites.
Two flight boards hang between the dining area and the bar, but they only display flights on Alaska Airlines and its partners.
The lounge has four televisions: The largest is mounted on the wall at the south end of the main seating area, while three smaller sets hang above the bar. Given their placement and the lack of bar seating, none of them are particularly convenient. On the other hand, they’re easy to ignore if you’re not interested in whatever’s on.
Fortunately, the Wi-Fi is fast enough to stream content on your own device. The connection was blazing during my visit — Netflix and YouTube videos played without buffering, while other sites loaded instantly. The network password is posted in several spots around the lounge, or you can get it from the front desk.
Finally, you can grab a copy of The Seattle Times from the bar. It would be great to see a few other newspapers offered here as well.
The new Alaska Airlines lounge has several things going for it. I think the view is the best you’ll find in any lounge at SeaTac. The copious daylight makes the whole space feel modern and cheerful, and the water feature adds pleasant background noise to further improve the overall ambience. The excellent service and speedy Wi-Fi make this lounge a good spot to get work done, and I’d rank it above the other Priority Pass lounges at this airport.
On the downside, the lounge’s food offerings come up short. I wouldn’t visit if I wanted more than a light snack, as the menu is simple and uninspiring. The location is great if you’re flying out of Terminal C, and good enough if you’re coming from the D or N gates. If you’re flying out of the A, B or S gates, the Alaska lounge is a bit of a hike.
Ultimately, I don’t see myself coming back while I can access the Centurion Lounge and the new Delta Sky Club. If that changes, however, this lounge would be my first choice, especially if the menu improves.
Have you been to the new Alaska Airlines Lounge at SEA yet? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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