On May 19, I flew from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA Airport) to Portland International Airport (PDX) on Alaska Airlines. The flight was aboard the Alaska Airlines “Our Commitment” Boeing 737-900ER, N492AS, so I will give you both my experience onboard and a bit about the special "Our Commitment" livery.

The in-flight experience

I recently shared my experience of the renovated Alaska Airlines C Concourse Lounge. I even was able to unpack and get in some planespotting, but after about an hour, the time came to head downstairs and board my flight.

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I had a most pleasant boarding experience, even though I was running a few minutes late for priority boarding. I raced over to my gate, somewhat in disbelief that for the first time flying the Alaska Airlines mainline, I would get to fly on one of the airline's special livery aircraft. Yet, there I was about to board the Alaska Airlines “Our Commitment” Boeing 737-900ER.

As per below, I was greeted kindly by a male and a female flight attendant as I took my boarding photo. I could then place one of my two bags into an overhead bin and the other at my luxurious seat, seemingly more at home in a living room or mancave than an airliner. Then I was allowed to tour the cockpit, which made my day.

After getting seated and receiving an equally pleasant and necessary safety briefing, the 737-900ER pushed back from the gate. We then got to see some of the other 737s in Alaska Airlines’ fleet I’ve had the pleasure of flying – including a 737 MAX that I flew premium class on. This was followed by a pleasant, exciting take-off from SEA Airport to climb to altitude – so exciting that I had to set the camera to 1/4000 sec to capture the take-off.

Once at altitude, due to the short flight, passengers were kindly informed of no in-flight service beyond requesting beverages. But the views of Mount Saint Helens – an active volcano – from altitude were much appreciated. Ditto being able to take a few selfies aboard.

But finally, we made our smooth approach to Portland International Airport (PDX) with few jostles due to expected turbulence. When we landed, I saw the Oregon Air National Guard’s F-15C Eagles prep for drill weekend, so was excited to disembark and walk to the parking garages to capture this special 737-900ER’s departure. I was also able to retrieve my free checked luggage within 14 minutes of deplaning, well within the airline’s 20-minute guarantee.

Alaska Airlines 737-990ER -Our Commitment- Starting to be Turned Around at PDX
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

Overall, especially with the special livery and first class seating, the flight was typically Alaska Airlines: Friendly, professional pilots and cabin crew providing high-quality service in a modern jetliner flying on time. I highly recommend the airline. I also recommend PDX for planespotting due to its garages in between the active runways, public restrooms a few minutes away, and food options just a quick Trimet MAX light rail ride away.

Read more of our trip reports of flights and lounges around the world

With the flight experience shared, let’s get to the special livery. The livery may not have affected the in-flight experience, but it added to the thrill of this aviation geek (avgeek) by flying on a truly unique aircraft when I expected another Boeing 737 MAX ride.

About the “Our Commitment" livery

As Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO, explained on the rationale for the livery in a previous statement,

"As a company, we know we are not yet where we need to be when it comes to diversity, but we are inspired and guided by our value to do the right thing. With this aircraft, we are doing the right thing by amplifying the conversation around education, equity and belonging and taking it to the skies. This aircraft will continue to be an inspiration for us on the journey."

Minicucci also, at the time of the unveiling, considered this one of the top experiences he’s had as an Alaska Airlines employee. To Minicucci when the commitment was made, it was important to have a special aircraft with the livery to help solidify the promise with a powerful symbol. Minicucci’s full speech on Vimeo is linked at the bottom.

Nose of Alaska Airlines UNCF Jet
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

For a long time, Alaska Airlines has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to assist in offering young African Americans the opportunity to access Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). In fact, the airline recently ferried 43 high school juniors from Seattle & Portland to tour five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta. As one student, Joshua, explained, the experience helped him because,

“Living in the Northwest, we don’t have any HBCUs. Traveling to a city with multiple HBCUs really helped me get a grasp on what the college experience is like.”

This seems fitting as Alaska Airlines had 14 family members and mentees of Alaska’s employees who are BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) painted on the side of the 737-900ER. There is also a seatback brochure that I decided to take home so I could scan and share it with you below:

Ultimately, this aircraft is intended to be a flying billboard for Alaska Airlines' values. By demonstrating its commitment to BIPOC children and mentees of Alaska Airlines' employees, the airline can, "Drive awareness and inspire conversation around topics of importance to our company and the communities we serve."

About N492AS

N492AS is a Boeing 737-900ER – the ER variant of the Boeing 737-900 – which had its first flight on November 18, 2015, and was delivered on November 26, 2015. Like all other 737-900ERs configured for Alaska Airlines, this one has 138 economy seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 16 business/first class seats for a total of 178 passenger capacity.

According to ch-aviation.com’s database, N492AS, as of March 31, 2023, has accumulated 27,162 flight hours and flies an average of three hours, eleven minutes on each flight. N492AS has an average daily utilization of ten hours and five minutes.

Alaska Aiirlines' -Our Commitment- Boeing 737-900ER Rising From Portlandia Into Blue Yonder
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

So clearly, Alaska Airlines chose a workhorse to take its “Our Commitment” messages to its routes. As Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO explained in the seatback brochure,

Alaska’s values – own safety, do the right thing and be kind-hearted – are the foundation that drives us to be the airline people love. Diversity, equity and inclusion are about valuing each person’s uniqueness and life experiences, so the world can see, learn and benefit from diverse perspectives. Our success depends on it.

What comes to mind when you think of Alaska Airlines? Please share with civility in the comments.

Sources: Alaska Airlines on Vimeo, ch-aviation.com

  • Alaska 737-800
    Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
    Alaska Airlines
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    Anchorage International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Portland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
    Year Founded:
    Ben Minicucci
    United States