On Sunday, May 21st Sonoma County Airport (STS) welcomed a new arrival from Alaska Airlines, an Embraer 175 regional jet. The new aircraft will be used for daily flights between Santa Rosa and San Diego. The aircraft is also set to be added to the Portland, Oregon, route on July 18.
Alaska Airlines, which has been serving the Santa Rosa airport for 11 years, has begun upgrading some of the planes flying in and out of Sonoma County to first class service.
There aren’t really any bad seats on Embraer jets, as there are no middle seats. This is great news if you’re traveling with someone since you both can have a window and aisle. The Embraer 175 also has a healthy ratio of first class seats. The aircraft has a total of 76 seats, and 12 of which are first class seats (~16% of the plane).
Many regional jets have small windows that aren’t even at eye-level. The Embraer 175 has huge windows (at least they feel that way) at the perfect level. They appear as if they’re bigger than on a typical Airbus or Boeing narrowbody, though perhaps that’s an illusion.
Other new features for Alaska Airlines service from Santa Rosa are in-flight WiFi, the company's video and audio entertainment system, bigger windows and larger bins for passenger items.
Also, if you're visiting the wine country, Alaska Airlines will let you check the bottles you purchase for free. The airline expanded its Wine Flies Free program to a total of 29 cities in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
The program began in 2007 to help Santa Rosa/Sonoma County visitors more easily bring home their purchases. New destinations added to the perk include Los Angeles, Burbank, Ontario and Orange County in Southern California.
Other qualifying destinations in California include Fresno, Monterey, Oakland, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara.
Insider Tip: to ship up to a case of wine for free, passengers must join the airline's free Mileage Plan and use their membership number when booking a ticket. Make sure bottles are carefully packed and sealed and then drop off the box with your bags when you check in for your flight.