Alaska Airlines

Eclipse from the air

I had the great fortune to be able to join Alaska Airlines on a special flight eclipse flight that left Portland International Airport Monday morning and headed west over the Pacific Ocean to catch a glimpse of the eclipse 15 minutes before it hit land.

Alaska’s charter Flight #9671 left Oregon’s Portland International Airport before 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time and headed west for two hours out over the Pacific Ocean with an invited guest list of astronomy enthusiasts, eclipse-chasers, a NASA astronaut, and social media contest winners.

NASA Astronaut-Michael Barratt was on board

Before entering the path of totality, Alaska Airlines pilots and invited on-board experts, including Evgenya Shkolnik, an astrophysics professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, meteorologist Joe Rao, and NASA Astronaut Michael Barratt explained to passengers technical details involved with both the eclipse and the flight and gave tips on what to look for as the plane entered the path of totality. They also gave passengers a count-down into and out of the path of totality.

 

Flight plan waypoints chart – courtesy Eric Mann

 

Meterologist and Hayden Planetarium lecturer Joe Rao readies timers – two watches – and cameras to capture his 12th eclipse

Yelps of “There it is!” “Wow! “Oh my goodness!” and “Thank-goodness this worked!” filled the cabin as the flight hit the coordinates that astronomers and pilots had so carefully plotted out beforehand. And, during the 1 minute 43 seconds of the total eclipse, many passengers seated on both the left and right side of the plane swapped seats multiple time so that everyone had a chance to see the astronomical occurrence billed as a “once in a lifetime event.”

Totality – courtesy Alaska Airlines

My full story about the eclipse day adventure is on USA TODAY, but here’s a fun short video of the Great American eclipse flight put together by Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines offers early boarding for (some) football fans

It’s getting harder and harder to snag a spot in the group of passengers that boards the airplane early, but during the 2017 football season Alaska Airlines is once again offering that perk to passengers departing from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport who are wearing the number 3 football jersey worn by Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback who serves as the carrier’s “Chief Football Officer.”

The perk started earlier this month, with the Seahawk’s first pre-season game, and will continue through the end of the regular season.

So dress accordingly.

This is Russell Wilson’s fifth year as Alaska’s Chief Football Officer  and as part of his duties Wilson helps the airline support youth and education programs and various charities, including the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, Strong Against Cancer and Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation.

Wilson also appears in some commercials for Alaska Airlines. Here are a couple of the corny-but-cute latest, featuring Russell Wilson as a talk-show host.

 

And now: United will fly from Everett’s Paine Field

 

Courtesy Propeller Airports

First Alaska Airlines, And now United Airlines

United Airlines announced that it will begin flying six daily flights between Paine Field, north of Seattle, and both Denver and San Francisco beginning in the fall of 2018.

What’s the big deal about Paine Field?

It’s the airfield in Everett – 23 miles north of Seattle – where Boeing has a much-toured production plant and where there’s been talk – and debate – for  years of providing additional commercial flights for the traffic-clogged Seattle metro area.

The field was originally constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936 to create jobs and economic growth in the region and in 1939 United Airlines operated the first commercial flight from the airport, the carrier reminds us.

Paine Field has since become the center of Boeing’s production facilities producing many United aircraft including the 747, 767, 777, and the 787 airplanes and employing tens of thousands of employees:, the airline said in a release.

Back in May, Alaska Airlines announced it would be the launch carrier from Paine Field, with a planned nine flight beginning in Fall 2018.

Alaska Airlines to begin scheduled commercial air service from Paine Field in 2018

 

Alaska Airlines offering a first look at the Great American Eclipse

(The 2016 total solar eclipse as seen from Alaska Airlines flight 870; courtesy Alaska Airlines)

If you’re determined to see this summer’s “Great American Eclipse” on August 21, there may be no better place to be than on a special Alaska Airlines charter flight that will give passengers an early – and unique view – of the eclipse.

Alaska’s special eclipse flight will leave Portland, Oregon at 7:30 a.m, and fly off the coast of Oregon to let passengers be among the first to get a glimpse of the eclipse.

Because weather is the largest variable when it comes to eclipse-viewing, and the Pacific Northwest is more prone to overcast skies than most other parts of the country, going up in an airplane above the potential weather or cloud cover, will be an ideal way to see this event.

“As an airline, we are in a unique position to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for astronomy enthusiasts,” said Sangita Woerner, Alaska’s vice president of marketing “Flying high above the Pacific Ocean will not only provide one of the first views, but also one of the best.”

Interested? Who isn’t?

But here’s the catch.

Alaska’s special eclipse flight is invitation-only flight. But the Seattle-based carrier is going to give one lucky fan and a guest a chance to win a seat on the flight with a contest that starts July 21 on Alaska’s social media channels.

We’re setting our clocks for the eclipse – and for the contest details – so stay tuned.

And for those of who haven’t been following the news about the “The Great American Eclipse” – here’s the story:

It’s going to be the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in United States history since 1918 and will be most view-able first from above the Pacific Ocean before appearing in Oregon and following a diagonal path across the country to South Carolina.

Learn more at GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

Alaska Airlines to start flying from “new” Seattle area airport

 

 

Here’s one way Alaska Airlines is dealing with the fact that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is reaching capacity: the carrier is going to begin operating some flights out of a ‘new’ airport in the region: Paine Field – Snohomish County Airport, which is the right next to Boeing’s giant assembly plant in Everett.

While Boeing’s newly -completed aircraft and private jets use Paine Field, it currently has no commercial service.

Over the years, there has been plenty of debate about using Paine Field for this purpose, though, because it is located about 20 miles north of Seattle and about 40 miles north of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  Being able to catch a flight from there would allow travelers living north of Seattle to skip what has become terrible traffic that sometimes makes getting to the airport take longer than a regional flight.

Subject to government approvals, Alaska has announced that starting in the fall of 2018 it will begin offering up to nine daily flights out of the airport.

“We’re not quite ready to share details of the routes,” says John Kirby, Alaska’s vice president of capacity planning on the airline’s blog, “But I can tell you they won’t be limited to short, regional flights. We’re talking daily, nonstop flights to some of our most popular destinations.”

Construction of a “state of the art terminal” is slated to begin in June and Alaska said it will announce routes, flight schedules and begin selling tickets early next year.