Today is a day of emotions at Horizon, the regional carrier for Alaska Airlines. The Q400 is the 76-passenger turboprop that passengers and employees either loved or hated. This will mark the end of the 22-year history of flying the Q400 turboprop aircraft. Come along with me as I take my final flight aboard the Alaska Airlines Q400.
Before I can tell the story of this remarkable regional aircraft, you have to understand how Alaska Airlines came to operate the Q400. The Alaska Air Group Inc. operates as:
- Alaska Airlines mainline operating Boeing 737 and the remaining A321NEO aircraft from Virgin America,
- Horizon Air, the wholly-own subsidiary operating regional and feeder flights for Alaska Airlines and
- SkyWest operates flights on behalf of Horizon Air flying E-175 regional jets.
Horizon Air began in 1981 operating a single turboprop aircraft. As Horizon grew, it caught the attention of Alaska Airlines which purchased Horizon in 1986. Alaska Airlines is unusual because they own its own regional airline. Most major airlines fully contract out regional flying to SkyWest, Mesa or Envoy. Horizon Air works on a capacity purchase agreement contract with Alaska Airlines. The final four Q400 aircraft will fly their final flights today for Alaska Airlines.
Horizon Air will exclusively fly the E-175 regional jets with first, premium and economy seating.
If you missed my story on the history of Horizon Air, you can read it here.
The Aircraft That Came From Canada
It was nearly a hundred years ago, there was a British aircraft manufacturer call De Havilland Aircraft. In 1928, they established a division in Canada called De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. De Havilland Aircraft of Canada produced aircraft under the DCH-model number designation. The Q400 started out as the DHC-8 as the 100 series and it was simply referred to as the “DASH 8”. The Dash 8 began flying in 1984 as a 37-passenger aircraft.
Horizon Air began flying the Dash 8 in the series 200 model in 1991, seating 37 passengers. The aircraft morphed into the 300 series and finally the 76-passenger 400 series. The 400 series was first known as the DHC-8-400 but later changed to the Q400. The 400 series was upgraded to reduce noise and vibrations so this variant name was changed to Q(uiet)400.
“Ala Cart” Service
One of the features of the Q400 service at Horizon Air is the Ala Cart service. The Q400 has very little storage space inside the aircraft. Horizon places the Ala Cart near the boarding door where you can place items to be placed in the cargo hold. Upon deplaning, your item will be ready for you to pick up from the Ala Carte and you are on your way.
My Last Flight On The Q400
Last Saturday, we took our final flight about the “Q” as AS 2019 from PDX to SEA. This 129-mile flight takes just 25 minutes – wheels up to wheels down. Our flight cruised at a mere 14,000 with a top speed of 425 mph on this very short flight.
The Q400 was the right plane at the right time. It allowed Alaska Airlines to develop a comprehensive regional route system. More importantly, it brought passengers to and from Alaska Airlines’ mainline hubs. This aircraft may be missed by some but the future for Alaska Airlines is the E-175 regional jet. It gives Horizon a single aircraft type that is easier to manage and the economy of scale.