Trip Report Monterey MRY–London LHR AAdvantage 20K economy award: Horizon Air segment MRY-LAX

6:00am flights are the worst.

Even though I can drive to MRY Monterey airport, park my car and check in for my flight within 20 minutes after leaving my house, waking up at 4am is a drag when it means catching an early morning flight.

American Airlines dropped MRY-LAX service and Alaska Airlines added the route. The first flight segment of our Monterey to London MileSAAver itinerary for 20,000 AAdvantage miles one way was an Alaska Airlines flight to Los Angeles scheduled for 6am.

At check-in, the Alaska Air ticket counter agent advised us at 5:15am to go directly through security. He said a lot of people had missed flights lately due to the long security line in the morning.

Seeing ‘TSA Precheck’ printed on both of our boarding passes was pleasant. I expected to see it on my boarding pass as a Global Entry member. Kelley had TSA Precheck on her boarding pass too. Not that it really made much difference in Monterey. There is no TSA Precheck line at MRY, so we waited in the same line with all the other Monterey Airport passengers trying to catch the first morning flights out of Monterey to airports where you can travel beyond San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles. I still had to take out my laptop for the x-ray machine. The only difference in treatment as TSA Precheck at MRY is I could leave my shoes on, the same privilege given to children and seniors.

Horizon Airlines

As we were walking to the airport, I commented to Kelley that it was reassuring to see the Alaska Airlines plane sitting at the airport gate. The plane for the MRY-LAX arrives the night before and spends the night at the airport.

In the MRY terminal gate area we waited for our 6am flight departure as the minutes passed and the United Airlines passengers, also flying to LAX at 6:25am boarded their plane. Alaska Airlines made no announcements to the passengers that the flight was delayed. Kelley and I knew there was a mechanical issue due to our proximity to the gate agents and overhearing other passengers inquiries.

6:00 am on the gate electronic flight board changed to 6:40am. Still, no announcement from the gate agents. MRY is a tiny airport with two seating areas in the terminal. In the area with the two gates for Alaska and United morning flights, a person speaking loudly can be heard by everyone.

The gate electronic flight board changed to 7:20am departure. There was one announcement made at some point that a mechanical issue was holding us up and they needed to move the plane and check out the situation.

Finally we were able to board the plane and depart MRY at 8:00am. The pilot assured the passengers the plane was safe to fly. There had been a fuel gauge level issue, but the plane was full of fuel.

California looked gorgeous on a clear skies autumn day with the Pacific Ocean on the right and the snow capped Sierra Nevada on the left as we flew southeast to LAX.

I don’t recall flying Horizon Air since 2003 when I flew 32 segments flying SJC-PDX on four $156 tickets. A fifth ticket from SJC to Vancouver YVR to reach 35 segments pulled in 100,000 bonus miles in Alaska Mileage Plan from a lucrative promotion offer. Those miles bought a First Class British Airways ticket to London a few weeks later.

I had forgotten the biggest benefit of flying Horizon Air – free microbrew beer.

11-24-15-LAX 105

I was not the only one on the plane having breakfast beer, but there were so few of us that I was offered three cups of beer from the two large bottles of Pyramid IPA the crew had opened.

Many passengers had already missed LAX connections with the two hour delay. Then, to top off the flight, the plane had to wait on the runway for a gate to open at LAX as we idled away another 15 minutes after arriving in LAX.

The delays were inconsequential to us since our AAdvantage award ticket itinerary had us in LAX for nine hours before our American Airlines flight to London. My biggest disappointment was missing breakfast hours at the AAdmirals Club. We were desiring a meal with eggs.

Best surprise of all is this email I received while in London, the day after our Alaska/Horizon flight.

Richard Garrido, Discount Code xxxx, in the amount of $75

Once again, I would like to extend my sincere apologies for your flight experience. Please rest assured that we are reviewing this situation and will do everything we can to ensure that a similar scenario does not occur in the future. I hope that you will accept my invitation to join us on another flight, so that we can demonstrate the high level of service we are typically known for and that you deserve.

Jeff Butler
Vice President
Airport Operations and Customer Service

This $75 voucher makes the Alaska Airlines Ski the West promotion even more tempting. Kelley also received a $75 voucher.

Upcoming post segments:

  • LAX American Airlines Flagship Lounge
  • American Airlines #108 LAX-LHR (Kelley’s flight review)

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »



  1. My wife was shocked to hear it cost $7 for a beer on out LAX-LHR American Airlines flight. I told her I get free booze in economy class as AAdvantage Executive Platinum, but we had both had our fill in the LAX Flagship Lounge and stayed with water for the long-haul flight.

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