Alaska and United to Launch Service in Boeing’s Backyard

Aug 10, 2017

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If you’ve flown to Seattle, you’ve traveled through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located just 20 minutes or so by car south of the city. But for travelers located north of downtown, the drive can take an hour or more in traffic, especially if you’re based in the Everett area.

Well, there’s a positive change on the horizon for travelers heading to or from Seattle’s north — come next year, both Alaska Airlines and United are launching nonstop service from Everett’s Paine Field (PAE), which currently has a small terminal with two gates under construction — but is much better known as the home of Boeing’s West Coast wide-body assembly plant. All 777s and most 787s are made there, as well as the venerable 767, which Boeing still sells as a freighter and also makes in a tanker version for the US Air Force.

Here’s what we know so far:

Alaska Airlines

Alaska hasn’t confirmed any destinations just yet, but the carrier has shared that it plans to launch a total of nine daily flights next fall, operated by a mix of Boeing 737s and Embraer 175 regional jets. Alaska Airlines has said that service won’t be limited to regional airports, though — “We’re talking daily, nonstop flights to some of our most popular destinations,” vice president of capacity planning John Kirby said.

More options for Western Washington

Snohomish & North King County residents will soon have new nonstop flight options. Flights to and from Paine Field are on the horizon.

Posted by Alaska Airlines on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The airline shared a short animated video on Facebook (embedded above) and committed to providing more details by early 2018.

United Airlines

United, meanwhile, has been a bit more forthcoming, confirming that it will operate a total of six daily flights to Denver (DEN) and San Francisco (SFO) beginning in the fall of next year, with a mix of regional and mainline aircraft depending on demand. With new service to two of the carrier’s largest hubs, it’s clear that UA will be marketing these flights to connecting travelers — and, of course, those flying to and from the aforementioned cities.

Bottom Line

I’m familiar with Paine Field in the context of Boeing (no, it’s not where that “special” Dreamliner flight departed from earlier this month), but I don’t really know the area, so I asked Seattle resident and TPG contributor Peter Rothbart to share his thoughts on the new service at PAE:

The obvious benefits are more options for passengers in Western Washington and a shorter commute for folks at the top of the 405 beltway and beyond. However, I’m uneasy about the prospect of having to connect between Paine Field and SeaTac. Traffic along that corridor is notoriously awful. If Alaska is just offering additional flights to destinations it already serves, and passengers can simply choose whether to fly into SEA or PAE, then great. If, on the other hand, PAE ends up serving smaller destinations like Yakima or Missoula, and passengers have to then transit to SEA to continue travel elsewhere, then it could get messy.

It seems more likely that PAE will supplement service at SEA, and while it might occasionally be possible to connect between flights at both airports, that clearly wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Will this new PAE service make flying through Seattle easier for you?

Featured image of Boeing’s PAE operations by Stephen Brashear via Getty Images.

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