Alaska Airlines’ Annual Plane Full of Salmon Lands at Seattle-Tacoma Airport

May 17, 2019

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Aviation geeks and seafood lovers: It’s that time of year again. Salmon season.

The state of Alaska has begun exporting its famous wild Copper River salmon for the 2019 season, and on Friday, Alaska Airlines brought the first shipment of the delicacy to the Pacific Northwest — Seattle-Tacoma Airport to be exact.

Alaska Airlines’ first salmon shipment has become an annual ritual among plane-spotters and gourmands alike. Each year, the airline dispatches its special fish-liveried plane, a Boeing 737-800 lovingly dubbed the “Salmon-30-Salmon,” to carry thousands of pounds of the fresh pink fish on ice in its cargo belly from Cordova, Alaska, to Seattle’s airport (SEA).

Photo by Alaska Airlines.
Photo by Alaska Airlines.

This year, the salmon plane ferried about 15,000 pounds of the fish fresh from the Copper River, according to King 5 News in Seattle. The airline rolls out an actual red carpet for the precious and delectable cargo, and the cockpit crew presents a symbolic catch of the day, for a photo op.

The salmon plane is, otherwise, in regular passenger service. I spotted it last year at a gate at SEA while boarding for another plane.

Photo by Jessica Puckett/TPG.
Photo by Jessica Puckett/TPG.

Alaska Airlines deliveries tens of thousands of pounds of the salmon to SEA each year. From there, the fish will be delivered to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the US.


“Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices,” Jason Berry, managing director at Alaska Air Cargo, said at last year’s ceremony. “Our Cargo employees are working around the clock to ensure we deliver the first catch of the coveted wild Copper River salmon to market, often within 24 hours of being pulled from the water.”

Wild Copper River salmon are a prized variety of the popular fish because they have a higher fat content, which means they are packed with even more flavor.

Featured image courtesy of Alaska Airlines. 

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