Second Seattle Airport Opens

The first commercial flights from what’s been dubbed “Seattle’s second airport” began last week from the brand-new passenger terminal at Paine Field (airport code “PAE”) in Everett, Washington.

The two-gate, 30,000-square-foot terminal is a private partnership between Propeller Airports and Snohomish County and feels more like a swank airport lounge than a small regional airport.

To the delight of many travelers in the Seattle metro area who must battle some of the country’s worst traffic to reach Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Paine Field is 30 miles north of downtown Seattle and about 40 miles north of Sea-Tac.

And as avgeeks and avid plane spotters will quickly tell you, the new Paine Field passenger terminal sits on the same airfield that houses Boeing’s sprawling wide-body assembly plant.

Where will you be able to fly to from Paine Field?

Alaska Airlines launched service from Paine Field last Monday with flights to Portland, Oregon, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

By March 12, a full schedule of 18 daily round-trip nonstop flights to eight West Coast destinations – Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose – should be operating on their regular schedules.

“I think we’ll have a good mix of leisure and business travelers,” said Mario Doiron, who will serve as Alaska Airlines’ station supervisor at Paine Field. “The morning flights will likely be filled with business travelers, as is the pattern now for us at (Seattle-Tacoma). But there’s been more interest from leisure travelers than we thought.”

United Airlines, the only other carrier scheduled to operate out of the Paine Field passenger terminal, will begin flying six daily flights from PAE on March 31: two daily round-trips to Denver and four daily round-trips to San Francisco.

Making sure United offered flights from Paine Field to Denver and San Francisco “is kind of a no-brainer,” in terms of giving more passengers a way to get to the airline’s hub airports, said Ankit Gupta, United’s VP of domestic network planning. “As the airport expands, we’ll look at either flying bigger jets or flying to more cities.”

Both airlines will operate their flights from Paine Field on Embraer 175 jets.

What’s inside the new Paine Field passenger terminal?

With valet parking and a concierge desk at the terminal door, the $40 million terminal designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects will make passengers feel as if they’re entering an upscale hotel lobby. Once through security, “They’ll feel as if they’re in an upscale private airport lounge,” Smith said. “But this lounge is for everybody.”

The lobby has a polished concrete floor, a Swiss-made wood acoustical treatment on the ceiling, a Bose sound system, check-in stands with Italian marble countertops, and a limestone-covered wall complete with easy-to-spot fossil. Behind a bank of check-in kiosks is a Solari flight display board programmed to emit the retro flip-board “flapping.”

Smith says the concierge desk staff will offer all passengers the same sort of service a hotel concierge staff might offer, including directions and recommendations for restaurants and places to stay, as well as help with bookings. The concierge team will also escort Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K members and United’s Premier 1K and above flyers to the front of the TSA line.

Smith hopes to introduce concierge subscription plans that might include everything from a fast track through the TSA line to unlimited valet parking and pickup and drop-off services within a 10-mile radius of the airport.

“We might also offer services like fulfilling grocery orders and taking care of dry cleaning or laundry which can be arranged in advance so that when travelers return home they will find their requests fulfilled and waiting in their vehicles,” Smith said.

A short ramp leads to the TSA security checkpoint area, which will have three lanes, including one devoted to TSA Precheck.

Once past the security checkpoint, passengers enter the main terminal waiting area between the two gates. This center area has a plush, living-roomlike feel to it, complete with two fireplaces, plenty of armchairs and other comfortable seating, and a set of display cases filled with Paine Field-related memorabilia.

The view outside the large glass windows is unique. Because Paine Field is home to the Boeing assembly plant and many other aviation-related activities, passengers are likely to spot anything from Boeing’s Dreamlifter and airplanes fresh out of the factory to military aircraft, private jets and planes in for maintenance.

To ensure passengers don’t miss anything out on the airfield, there are glass-walled jet bridges leading to and from the airplanes that will park at each gate.

There’s robust Wi-Fi throughout the Paine Field passenger terminal, multiple options for power at each of the 300 seats, and food and beverage provided by Seattle’s well-loved Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, including a Café Vita coffee shop pre-security. Post-security, there will be another Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Café, serving soups, sandwiches and mac and cheese, plus the Upper Case Bar, with Pacific Northwest wines, cocktails and food from the café.

The one-carousel baggage claim is about a minute’s walk from either gate and passenger pickup is just outside the bag claim area. A pet-relief area and a small building where passengers will wait for taxis, ride-hailed drivers and car rental shuttles is just outside the bag claim area.

A bit of Paine Field history

A statue of Lt. Topliff Olin Paine (1893-1922), for whom Paine Field was named, stands outside the new terminal.

Also known as Snohomish County Airport, Paine Field was built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project with the goal of being one of 10 “super airports” around the country.

World War II and the Korean War changed those plans and, in 1966, after Snohomish County took over the airport, Boeing set up its production facility for 747 airplanes at Paine Field.

Commercial passenger service from Paine Field has been proposed, and hotly debated, for years.

In addition to the new Paine Field passenger terminal, Paine Field is home to the Boeing Company’s wide-body assembly plant and the popular Boeing Factory Tour, as well as several other aviation-related businesses and facilities, museums and attractions, including the Flight Heritage & Combat Armor Museum built around a collection established by the late Paul Allen.

(USA Today)

Leave a Comment