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Local food, wine, new wireless connections added to Alaska Air flights

SeaTac’s Alaska Airlines has announced a new bundle of passenger amenities it has dubbed “Alaska Beyond” to improve the airline’s passenger experience aboard its fleet.

The amenities package includes some features, such as thinner Recaro seats equipped with electrical outlets, that have been installed on newer Alaska planes for some time. The airline also is adding a menu of locally sourced meals and snacks available at extra cost. Those meals and refreshments, some of which were devised by Seattle celebrity chef Tom Douglas, include such items as Beechers and Tillamook cheeses, Alaskan Amber beer, St. Michelle wines and Sun handcrafted liquors.

The airline’s biggest addition is an entertainment package that is accessible via a wireless connection to passengers’ personal electronic devices such as laptops, notebooks, tablets and cell phones. That electronic package will allow passengers to watch movies, TV shows, documentaries and other electronic entertainment. During January, Alaska is allowing passengers free access to those entertainment features. Beginning in February, charges, beginning at $1.99, will be levied for access to the system.

Alaska said it has 50 of its aircraft now fitted with that entertainment system. It plans to have nearly all of its planes equipped with the new system by April.

For those without personal electronic devices, Alaska will offer digital movie players that rent for $8 and up depending on the length of the flight. Those digital players are preloaded with movies and TV shows.

Alaska is faced with strong competition from Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which is equipping its jets with seat-back entertainment. Delta is adding dozens of flights to its Sea-Tac schedule in part to feed passengers to and from the international non-stop flights it has begun from Sea-Tac. Delta is making the airport its West Coast hub for international flights with nonstops to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Paris and Amsterdam.

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