Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Yes, I traveled 3,400 miles for pancakes.
(Photo: Alaska Airlines)We travel writers are a difficult lot to impress.
But when Alaska Airlines made national news last summer for installing a
pancake printing machine in its Board Room lounges, I squealed with delight
(actually, it was more of a silent squeal; my World traveling club Travel
colleagues don’t take kindly to squealing at work).


News that an airline was allowing passengers access to a machine that
makes something as wonderful as pancakes — little slices of sweet,
fluffy goodness that you get to douse in sweet syrupy goodness —
actually made me proud to be a human being.
Sure, we destroy the planet, kill each other for no reason, and post
satirical news stories on our Facebook feeds because we think they’re
real.
But an invention this wondrous, I thought, proves once and for all that we
still deserve our place at the top of the food chain.
Despite my glee, I let almost a year go by without seeing this miracle of
innovation for myself.
For as much as I love pancakes, I rarely allow myself to partake —
especially since I moved to Los Angeles, where carbs are illegal.


But when I finally booked a flight on Alaska Airlines for an assignment in
Anchorage, I decided this new airport lounge innovation was worth suspending
my self-imposed pancake ban for three reasons: 1.
) Vacation calories don’t count; everybody knows that.
2.
) I was going to be traipsing through the Alaskan wilderness on my trip, so I
figured I should carbo-load in case I had to run from a bear.


And 3.
) It’s a flippin’ pancake machine!

So after spending the
five-hour flight to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport fidgeting in
anticipation, I headed straight for the Alaska Airlines Board Room for my
pancake encounter.
I found myself thinking about that Louis CK routine where he makes fun of
himself for stopping to eat at a Cinnabons in the airport where he’d
just arrived, which was essentially what I was doing — except that
pancakes are much, much better than Cinnabons.
 Still I continued undaunted, refusing to let the specter of food shaming
deter me from my quest.


At least if I was going to be food shamed for seeking out airport
pancakes, I wouldn’t be alone.
"Some people say they have [memberships to Alaska Airlines’ Board
Rooms] just for the pancake machine," Board Room manager Jennifer
Freeberg-Huss told me when I arrived in the lounge.
Word is, some passengers even arrange their flight times so that they can
arrive in time to use the pancake machine during its hours of operation, which
are usually from 5 a.
m.
to 10 a.
m.
(by the way, if you’re one of those people who adjust your travel
schedules solely for pancakes, follow me on Twitter.
I think we might be potential best friends).

Related: Cheaper Ways to Visit Alaska this Summer — From a
Local
Behold, the pancake printer in the Alaska Airlines Board Room in Anchorage!
(Photo: Sid Lipsey)Of course, drawing weary travelers like me to their Board
Rooms is the whole point behind Alaska Airlines’ pancake machine.
Major air carriers no longer are satisfied to just compete with each other in
the air; they’re also in a bitter ground war over airport-based
amenities, and airport lounges are right on the front lines.
LoungeBuddy.
com co-founder Tyler Dikman estimated in an interview with Tnooz that airlines
take in over $10 billion annually from their airport lounges.
Each airline is trying to one-up the others with some interesting lounge
perks — from the Qatar Airways Airport Lounge Jacuzzi at Doha
International Airport to the billiards table at Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at
Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.


And, of course, there’s Alaska Airlines’ pancake printer,
which Jennifer tells me came about after the machine’s distributor,
Popcake North America, approached the airline with a simple proposal:
we’ll give you the pancake machines if you buy the batter from us.
"We were totally up for it; it was kind of a no brainer," Jennifer recalls,
saying the airline jumped at the chance to "surpass the competition and find
new ways to set the Board Rooms apart.
"

Jennifer showed me how to use the machine.
Step One: Push a button on the front of the machine.
Step Two: Wait a couple of minutes.
Step Three: Enjoy your pancakes.
It really is a simple, fully automated process.
The only way it could be less complicated is if it were one of those
replicators on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," where you just speak your
order and it materializes instantly.
(Speaking of which, why didn’t Captain Picard ever order a plate of
flapjacks to go with his Earl Grey tea?)

As delightful as Jennifer was, my
raging pancake craving could only survive just so much small talk.
"Would you like to try some pancakes?" Jennifer finally asked.
Of course! We quickly whipped up a batch and I finally got to sample them.
The pancakes themselves are medium-sized (the machine allows you to adjust
the size of your pancakes, but Alaska Airlines keeps theirs medium-sized to
fit on the plates in the Board Room).
I’m pleased to say that after numerous samples, I can give Alaska
Airlines’ printed pancakes the thumbs up.
They are fluffy with a sweet, but not overbearing, flavor.
And they are pleasantly chewy — not at all spongy like you might
expect from an automated chef.
Technology, you win again!Related: 11 Hotel Breakfasts Worth Traveling
the Globe For Get in my belly! (Photo: Sid Lipsey)

Jennifer seemed
pleased at my enthusiastic reaction to the pancake printer.
"We have them in all of the Board Rooms," she told me.
"Anchorage, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles…"

Wait, what…?
Los Angeles? You mean I didn’t have to fly all the way to Anchorage to
try this out? I could have just driven to LAX? I guess in my pancake-induced
glee after reading Alaska Airlines’ "WE HAVE A PANCAKE MACHINE!!!!"
headline, I forgot to read the fine print.


Oh well, it’s not as if I flew to Anchorage just for pancakes
— that would have been silly right?  But even if I had, it was
worth the trip.
Because Alaska Airlines’ pancake machine is probably the tastiest
airline perk out there.


…at least until an airline installs a bacon-making machine.

WATCH: Flying Singapore Airlines in First Class for an Hour Ruined My
LifeLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
and Pinterest.
 Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad.
 To learn more about World traveling club Travel’s travel policy
please click here.
Why our breakfast-obsessed writer traveled 3,400 miles for pancakes.
Yes, pancakes.
.
Of course, drawing weary travelers like me to their Board Rooms is the whole
point behind Alaska Airlines’ pancake machine.
Major air carriers no longer are satisfied to just compete with each other in
the air; they’re also in a bitter ground war over airport-based
amenities, and airport lounges are right on the front lines.
LoungeBuddy.
com co-founder Tyler Dikman estimated in an interview with Tnooz that airlines
take in over $10 billion annually from their airport lounges.
Each airline is trying to one-up the others with some interesting lounge
perks — from the Qatar Airways Airport Lounge Jacuzzi at Doha
International Airport to the billiards table at Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at
Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.


And, of course, there’s Alaska Airlines’ pancake printer,
which Jennifer tells me came about after the machine’s distributor,
Popcake North America, approached the airline with a simple proposal:
we’ll give you the pancake machines if you buy the batter from us.
"We were totally up for it; it was kind of a no brainer," Jennifer recalls,
saying the airline jumped at the chance to "surpass the competition and find
new ways to set the Board Rooms apart.
"

Jennifer showed me how to use the machine.
Step One: Push a button on the front of the machine.
Step Two: Wait a couple of minutes.
Step Three: Enjoy your pancakes.
It really is a simple, fully automated process.
The only way it could be less complicated is if it were one of those
replicators on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," where you just speak your
order and it materializes instantly.
(Speaking of which, why didn’t Captain Picard ever order a plate of
flapjacks to go with his Earl Grey tea?)

As delightful as Jennifer was, my
raging pancake craving could only survive just so much small talk.
"Would you like to try some pancakes?" Jennifer finally asked.
Of course! We quickly whipped up a batch and I finally got to sample them.
The pancakes themselves are medium-sized (the machine allows you to adjust
the size of your pancakes, but Alaska Airlines keeps theirs medium-sized to
fit on the plates in the Board Room).
I’m pleased to say that after numerous samples, I can give Alaska
Airlines’ printed pancakes the thumbs up.
They are fluffy with a sweet, but not overbearing, flavor.
And they are pleasantly chewy — not at all spongy like you might
expect from an automated chef.
Technology, you win again!Related: 11 Hotel Breakfasts Worth Traveling
the Globe For Get in my belly! (Photo: Sid Lipsey)

Jennifer seemed
pleased at my enthusiastic reaction to the pancake printer.
"We have them in all of the Board Rooms," she told me.
"Anchorage, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles…"

Wait, what…?
Los Angeles? You mean I didn’t have to fly all the way to Anchorage to
try this out? I could have just driven to LAX? I guess in my pancake-induced
glee after reading Alaska Airlines’ "WE HAVE A PANCAKE MACHINE!!!!"
headline, I forgot to read the fine print.


Oh well, it’s not as if I flew to Anchorage just for pancakes
— that would have been silly right?  But even if I had, it was
worth the trip.
Because Alaska Airlines’ pancake machine is probably the tastiest
airline perk out there.


…at least until an airline installs a bacon-making machine.

WATCH: Flying Singapore Airlines in First Class for an Hour Ruined My
LifeLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
and Pinterest.
 Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad.
 To learn more about World traveling club Travel’s travel policy
please click here.
Why our breakfast-obsessed writer traveled 3,400 miles for pancakes.
Yes, pancakes.

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