options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlinesoptions trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

My $112 cheeseburger.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


  • The “$100 hamburger” is an aviation rite of passage and refers to when pilots fly their aircraft to a different city for a meal and come right back.
  • As a non-pilot, I flew as a passenger on a plane from New York to get my $100 burger at the In-n-Out Burger next to Los Angeles International Airport.
  • The ticket cost me $112 on Alaska Airlines, which now serves numerous transcontinental routes from New York.
  • The fast-food restaurant is one of the most visited sites in aviation for its unique views of the airport. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the aviation world, pilots routinely spend hundreds of dollars on food items.

It’s not the cost of the food itself that drives up the price, but rather the cost of flying to get it.

General aviation pilots, when deciding on where to fly to, will often select destinations with a good food scene or even better, restaurants at the airport themselves. The 121 Restaurant at Waterbury-Oxford Airport in Connecticut, for example, is located at the airport with its own airplane parking stands, making it ideal for short trips from nearby airports. 

The “$100 hamburger,” as it’s referred to, is a rite of passage for pilots, especially newly-minted private pilots eager for a reason to get in the air.

For non-pilot aviation enthusiasts such as myself, however, some creativity is required since we can’t as easily hop in a plane and fly it ourselves. 

So when the opportunity arose to fly to Los Angeles for $112 roundtrip thanks to an Alaska Airlines “buy one get one” promotion, I jumped on it for a chance to visit one of the most famous restaurants in aviation.

Here’s my quest for the $112 cheeseburger.

Options trading Since merging with Virgin America, Alaska now serves cities up and down the West Coast from my hometown of New York, making the decision on where to go difficult. I could pick anywhere from San Diego to Seattle and get a great price.

options trading Virgin America Airbus

A Virgin America Airbus A320.

AP


Options trading I ultimately decided on Los Angeles. My plan was to fly out early in the morning on Saturday and back the same night on a red-eye in time to catch the Super Bowl.

options trading Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

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Options trading Fast forward to February 1, I found myself at JFK Airport’s Terminal 7 ready to fly with only a backpack and my camera.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Terminal 7 at JFK Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading Alaska operates multiple transcontinental services per day to the West Coast from New York, a market in which it had little presence only a few years ago.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Terminal 7 departure board.

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Options trading The airline has a few check-in kiosks in the terminal so I could avoid going to the desk for my boarding pass.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines check-in kiosks at JFK Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I had booked a saver fare, Alaska’s version of basic economy, which surprisingly allowed me a seat selection before departure. The assignment, however, couldn’t be changed after booking without the help of a gate agent.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines’ check-in kiosk at JFK Airport.

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Options trading Forcibly content with my seat, I headed to the gate. Terminal 7 is mostly used for international flights, which depart primarily in the evening and leave the terminal and security checkpoint wide open in the early morning.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

An empty Terminal 7.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading The terminal is tiny, making it easy to navigate. I was at the gate in seconds just as boarding started.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

The boarding gate for our flight to Los Angeles.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading Our chariot for the 6 hours and 40-minute flight to Los Angeles would be a Boeing 737-800, one of Alaska’s workhorses and flagships.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Boarding an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I was mildly disappointed before boarding as the airline had stopped using ex-Virgin America Airbus A320s complete with in-flight entertainment screens, cool mood lighting, and a roped-off first-class cabin on the route. I still miss that airline.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Inside an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading At first glance, the seats looked to be slim and without padding but they were actually leather and comfortable. A little meat on the bones definitely would’ve helped, though.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Onboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I got to my first seat, a window seat at the back of the plane and was ready for the journey ahead. I’d stayed up late the night before to tire myself out for this flight.

options trading Alaska Airlines Window Seat

A window seat onboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I even brought a pillow from a prior trip on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350 to help me sleep.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Bringing another airline’s pillow on an Alaska Airlines flight.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading My nostalgia for Virgin America was enhanced by the fact that the airline offered no physical seatback screens and an aging aircraft interior beyond the newer seats.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

The seatback of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 seat.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I was all set to jet when the flight attendants announced when the boarding door closed and I turned around to see the row behind me was wide open. I quickly staked my claim.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Retreating to the last row.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I waited just until after take-off to head to sleep.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Departing from New York.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


Options trading I didn’t sleep the whole way as I planned but did get nearly three hours which put a good dent in what turned out to be only a 5 hour and 20-minute cross country journey.

options trading LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines

Waking up after a near-3-hour nap.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider


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