Flying Cossacks

Last week’s History Nugget was about Alaska Airline’s “Golden Nugget Service” featuring a gold rush themed flight experience which started in 1958 and continued for twelve years until it was replaced with a Russian theme called “Golden Samovar Service.”

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner January 10, 1970


Samovars, Cossack-inspired stewardess costume, maxi coats, the sounds of the balalaika, imported caviar and Russian cuisine will usher in a new “golden” era of elegance in service for the flying public when Alaska Airlines formally inaugurates its new Golden Samovar Service Monday.

Alaska Airlines selected “Golden Samovar” as the name of its new service to signify the unity of the state of Alaska’s Russian heritage with the airline’s already highly acclaimed “Gold Rush-Gay Nineties” theme. The service is provided for both first class and tourist passengers.

Friday night members of the new media and travel agencies in Fairbanks were invited to a preview party to get a before-hand look at Golden Samovar. The guests were treated to a number of Russian foods and the classic Russian beverage.

When Alaska was a part of czarist Russia and the influence of the imperial Russian court was evident throughout the great land, the Samovar was always present and was the symbol of elegance. Preciously possessed by every Russian family, the Samovar was decorated as finely as possible, complete with family crest, hallmarks of excellence and other embellishments. The samovar is a Russian urn used for making tea with a unique charcoal heating core. Alaska Airlines flights will carry two imported Russian samovars especially hallmarked with the double eagle crest to signify the new service, aboard its flights. The samovars, one to be used in the first-class compartment and the other in the tourist section, will be featured in a new and different role. A complimentary beverage, especially created for Alaska Airlines by the House of Seagram, called “Bolshoi Golden Troike” will be served all passengers from the samovar. The beverage, a combination of Russian vodka, a coffee liqueur and coffee will be served piping hot prior to breakfast on morning flights and is featured over ice after the meal on afternoon and evening flights.

Authentic Russian meals will be served in both the first class and tourist compartment. The menus were created by Alaska Airlines with the guidance of members of the Russian Communities of both Seattle and Sitka. Old family recipes have been borrowed to create the Russian-inspired courses.

First class passengers will begin their lunch and dinner meal with a selection of hors d’oeuvres; pelmeni, a small Siberian meatball in a noodle; silaka, pickled herring; sturgeon, a Russian favorite; crab legs and black caviar. Special beverages such as iced vodka, a Sitka Sling, Moscow Mule and Black Russian will be offered along with the standard beverages. An appetizer of Moscow Borsch soup and Pirozhky, a Russian meat-filled pastry, comprise the second course. Then a red lettuce salad with cucumber, sliced tomato, stuffed egg and asparagus topped with a Siberian dressing will be offered passengers. At the time of making their reservations for the flight, first class passengers will be able to select an entrée. Featured entrees are beef steak ala Romanoff, chicken Kiev, veal Orloff, and beef stroganoff. Russian black bread will be served with the entree along with a vegetable. Passengers will be able to choose either Siberian fruit—taste delight mille-feuille Suavaroff or tartlet Odessa for dessert. Each course of the first-class meal will be individually served from a gold cart. Full-size white and gold china, gold embossed crystal, and elegant gold-plated silverware on a background of rich red linen will be used by the passenger.

Tourist passengers will be treated to the borsch, salad including a taste of caviar and featured entrees such as beef stroganoff or chicken Kiev, served with a vegetable and Russian black bread, plus dessert.

Note: Those were certainly the good old days of airline travel. Now, we get frisked, stacked in like cordwood, and fed fancy box food. The change to “no smoking” was a big improvement, though, as was the addition of more bathrooms. And today, we also enjoy higher quality safety equipment. The flight crews for Alaska Airlines have always maintained high standards of professionalism. They are just as courteous and friendly today as they were back in the “Golden Nugget Service” days. This History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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