Combi aircraft perform double duty providing freight and passenger service. Part of the passenger deck will be sectioned off to increase the cargo hold beyond what’s normally available below deck. To my knowledge the only carrier that operates them in the United States is Alaska Airlines, although KLM and Asiana both operate 747-400 combis in other parts of the world (there are probably more).
Alaska confirmed today that it plans to decommission the five Boeing 737-400 combi aircraft in its fleet. These will be replaced with three dedicated Boeing 737-700 freighters, retrofitted from their former life as passenger aircraft. Alaska has only a few of these, mostly relying on the -800 and -900 series for its passenger service, so it makes sense that this could simply operations further.
I still have not flown to Alaska, and so this looks like as good a time as any to sneak in my last chance to fly the 737 combi. Keep in mind that there is no first class cabin. Passengers board from the rear, and the front half is dedicated to cargo.
If you’re interested in planning a farewell trip, Alaska Airlines makes it easy by publishing their combi schedule each winter (look at page 2). Seattle is the only airport they serve in the contiguous U.S., and you can fly one up to Anchorage and back with three or four stops in each direction. The Alaska Airlines blog has a pretty good summary of what to expect from these milk run flights. You can reach other airports, such as Barrow, by flying the combi, but you’ll need to reach Anchorage first.
Frankly it might even make for a good meetup. Has there ever been an Alaska CombiDO before? I’ll look into whether it makes sense to organize this trip as a larger event.