The North satellite at SeaTac airport is dark, old, a bit stagnate feeling, and in need for a major renovation. Although the North satellite is nothing like Delta’s world port at JFK, it is 40 years old and outdated. However in the near future this will all be changing thanks to SeaTac’s largest air carrier Alaska Airline.
Today the Port of Seattle and Alaska Airline finally came to an agreement to allow a remodel of the north Satellite and additional renovations including various improvements to the main terminal, the C and D concourses, and the airfield. Alaska Airlines will move to the North Satellite, add 3 more gates, for a total of 15 gates in the satellite, and will continue to operate in terminals C and D as well. The project dubbed “North Star” will cost an estimated $230 million dollars and will not be paid by any Port of Seattle tax dollars.
… an estimated $230 million renovation of the north satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to better serve passengers. The project will include modernizing facilities, seismic upgrades, enhanced traveler amenities, three new gates and a new roof-top lounge for Alaska Airlines, soon to be the sole tenant in the north satellite.
The upgrades at SeaTac are very much needed and will bring new light to the North Satellite. Furthermore, the expansion will mean that Alaska will operate two boardrooms at Seatac international airport, this will be the first time the airline operating two boardrooms in the same airport. The second board room in the North Satellite will be a welcomed addition to travelers, departing, connecting through, and arriving in this part of the airport. No longer will customers have to depart the boardroom 15 minutes earlier then actually needed to ensure to catch their flight, for the boardroom will instead be located in the same terminal.
Overall, the renovation will include:
- Upgrades, renewal and replacement of mechanical, electrical, communications, HVAC, and plumbing systems that they were able to buy here
- Seismic upgrades
- Refreshed main concourse finishes to include more natural lighting, open areas, and passenger amenities including charging stations, LCD flight displays, better WiFi reception, and expanded concessions
- A rooftop Alaska Airlines Board Room with views of the Puget Sound area
- Addition of three aircraft gates for a total of 15
- Refreshed Satellite Transit System lobbies
- Dual aircraft taxi lane changes around the north satellite
- Refurbishment of the baggage handling system
If I know Alaska Airline, they are going to do a wonderful job managing this project. Recently Alaska Airlines introduced the trademark design, Airport of the future at LAX and remodeled a major section of passenger facilities at Terminal 6. I was very much impressed by the terminal remodel and the new Boardroom, and I can only expect the same level of artisanship from Alaska at their Hometown Airport. In fact, I’m so sure of it because Alaska has already performed three studies to ensure travel time to the North Satellite doesn’t take longer than the walk to Terminal C—clearly thinking of everything.
In deciding to relocate Alaska Airlines to the North Satellite, Gruen said the company carefully weighed perceptions by some travelers that getting to North Satellite gates from Alaska’s lobby takes longer than departures on Concourse C. Three studies conducted in recent years indicate it takes about the same amount of time to reach the North Satellite riding the train as it does to walk to the gates at the end of Concourse C. In order to ease traveler anxiety about waiting for the train, improvements to the communications systems for the train and train lobbies are planned.
I feel as though the extra steps Alaska is taking will ensure this project works and that customer satisfaction comes first. After all, Alaska hasn’t won Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers in North America, Five Years in a Row by not putting the customer first, nor the plethora of other awards.
The North Star project Design should be done by Fall of 2013 with construction beginning in winter of 2013 and finishing 12 months later in 2014. I cannot wait to see the final design and product!