Today Alaska Airlines announced plans to begin service from Paine Field, which may be better known as the county airport in Everett where Boeing builds and delivers many of its widebody aircraft. Alaska Airlines and Snohomish County will cooperate on constructing a new airport terminal for passengers who currently must drive south to Sea-Tac or north to Bellingham.
Construction on the terminal will only begin in June, and Alaska’s first routes have not been announced. But by the time service begins next year it will be a big improvement.
Most passengers can expect a similar level of service to what they enjoy from larger airports. Alaska will be operating both Boeing 737 aircraft and its newer fleet of Embraer 175 aircraft. I haven’t had the opportunity to fly on an E175 yet (my first trip will be to Oklahoma City in a couple weeks), but I’ve heard from others that the economy and first class experiences are similar to what you’d expect on a larger Boeing aircraft.
This is a reasonable extension of Alaska’s long-term strategy to operate point-to-point flights rather than centralizing operations in hub airports. For example, it flies into all four Bay Area airports (including Santa Rosa) and three out of four LA-area airports (excluding Long Beach), with flights from many of them to New York and Washington, DC. It doesn’t concentrate its operations on a single route, such as SFO-EWR or LAX-JFK.
When you’re making a long trip, the last thing you want to do is start the journey with two hours sitting in traffic. One of my favorite things about Alaska is that it has enough of these non-stop routes to the exact airport I want, closer to my origin and destination.