Qatar Airways Launches New SEA-DOH service early

On Friday, January 29, Qatar Airways kicks off four-time per week nonstop service between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Daily service is set to start in July. The airline is using its Boeing 777 aircraft with 42 business class seats and 312 economy class seats for this new service.

Courtesy Port of Seattle

This new international route for Seattle was originally set to begin on March 15, 2021. But in an unusual move, Qatar moved up the launch date by almost two months.

“Qatar Airways’ decision to begin service to the Pacific Northwest is a testament to the airline’s confidence in the strength of the region and the expectation to bounce back after the past year’s struggles with the pandemic,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Fred Felleman. “We look forward to this being one of the first steps back to recovery as we will soon welcome global travelers into the new International Arrivals Facility later this year.”

In advance of the launch, Stuck at the Airport chatted with Qatar’s Mark Drusch, SVP of Revenue Management, Alliance, and Strategy. [Answers edited for space, clarity, etc.]

Why is Seattle an important market for Qatar now?

Drusch says traffic on the airline’s Los Angeles and San Francisco flights is very strong and the airline is seeing a lot of traffic through Seattle via partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, which is joining the oneworld alliance. “Seattle was the largest gateway on the west coast we weren’t operating out of. So this [new route] is just a natural,” says Drusch.

Why move up the launch?

“Our San Francisco service [launched December 15] has taken off so quickly, and the advance bookings for Seattle in March were so incredibly strong,” says Drusch. “With that and the fact that we were making great progress in establishing a partnership with Alaska, we said, ‘Why should we wait?”

Isn’t moving up a launch complicated?

“It is only complicated in that you need to work through the details with your crews – pilots and flight attendants. But we had enough advance notice that we could do that,” says Drush. “And, honestly, pre-COVID it would have been a lot more difficult. During COVID we have extra pilots and extra flight attendants, and we have more flexibility than we’ve had in the past.”

What about the partnership with Alaska Airlines?

“Alaska is joining oneworld at the end of March, and we are a member of oneworld, so we will obviously have a partnership with them via oneworld. But we’ve been talking to them about having an enhanced relationship versus the oneworld relationship. We haven’t announced anything yet, but stay tuned you might hear something shortly.”

How is the inflight service altered in response to COVID-19 concerns?

Qatar is using a Boeing 777 aircraft for this route with Qsuites in business class. The suites have sliding doors, “so when you are in your Qsuite you don’t have to use your mask,” says Drusch. Full meal service is being offered in both business class and coach, with some modifications. Flight attendants are in full PPE, including face shields. All planes are being cleaned every 24 hours with an automated UV machine.

What special events are planned for the inaugural landing and take-off of this new Qatar flight at SEA?

A social-distanced gate celebration will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Passengers will receive gift bags with local treats from Seattle, Qatar Airways, Alaska Airlines, and Boeing.

Alaska Airlines shares details of flights from Paine Field

Courtesy Propeller Airports -rendering of new airport at Paine Field

Commercial air service is set to begin at Paine Field-Snohomish County Airport in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle, in the fall of 2018.

A small, state-of-the-terminal is being built and both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have said they would offer service from the airport.

In August, United said it plans to fly to both Denver and San Francisco daily from Paine Field, but Alaska has just announced the cities it plans to serve from Everett.

Starting fall 2018, Alaska announced, it will offer 13 daily nonstops from Paine Field to eight West Coast cities:  Los Angeles; Orange County, Phoenix; Portland; San Diego; San Francisco; and San Jose, California.

The number of flights for each destination is still being determined.

Flying from Paine Field is appealing to many people who live in the Puget Sound region north of Seattle in what is called the “North Sound” because it means not having to battle the Seattle traffic going south to get to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Norwegian Airlines head to Denver and Seattle


Good news for flyers who want to get to London from Seattle or Denver – on the cheap.

Norwegian Air – which has been rapidly expanding its long-haul, low-budget route network – just announced it will be launching new flights from both Denver International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to London’s Gatwick Airport in September, flying a 787 aircraft on the new routes.

Launch fares – available now – to London from both Denver and Seattle start at $199 one-way (including taxes) in economy and start at $839 one-way (including taxes) in the airline’s premium cabin, which includes sleeper-seats, drinks, meals and extra luggage allowance.

Service from Denver to London launches September 16, with twice-weekly flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays, then increases to three times per week, adding Thursdays, beginning November 2.

Service from Seattle to London will launch on September 17, with four flights per week on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.

Another option for getting to London from Seattle launched last week, with the start of a daily Virgin Atlantic flight between London’s Heathrow Airport and Seattle.

With Seattle and Denver, Norwegian will be offering nine nonstop routes from the United States to London, “more than any American airline,” Norwegian Air notes, and 48 transatlantic flights from 13 U.S. cities (both seasonal and year-round).

Here’s their current map of U.S. destinations and routes.  More are likely to be added.



Virgin Atlantic lands in Seattle & is welcomed by Sir Richard Branson

Courtesy Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic marked its new service between London Heathrow and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Monday with an inaugural flight from London to Seattle that featured a live-streamed in-flight performance by up-and-coming UK pop-star Raye and an on-the-ground welcome of the Boeing 787-9 by Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic’s service replaces the flight currently operated by the carrier’s joint partner Delta Air Lines and will increase the annual capacity on the route by the more than 40,000 seats, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger told Today in the Sky during the flight to Seattle.

“The Seattle market also fits better with the Virgin brand,” said Kreeger, “Seattle is a young, entrepreneurial, innovative, outdoorsy risk-taking kind of city and when you think of the element of the Virgin Atlantic brand and who we attract, it just seems like a great fit.”

At a press conference following the arrival of the flight and the kick-off of several days of in-city celebrations and events, Kreeger noted that the Virgin brand was already well known in Seattle and on the west coast thanks to the airline’s U.S. sister, Virgin America.

Alaska Airlines (Delta’s major competitor in the Seattle market) purchased Virgin America last year for $2.6 billion and announced last week that while Alaska will adopt some of Virgin America’s amenities and some of its cool ‘vibe,’ it will retire the Virgin America name and brand by 2019.

Noting that he thought he’d be polite when asked about that decision, “But I decided not to be,” Branson shared his thoughts on that decision at the post-flight news conference.

“It’s baffling and sad,” said Branson, “When I sat down with Alaska, I genuinely believed that they would treasure the brand, that they would treasure the people, that they would treasure the product and that they knew what they were buying,” he said. “And that the last thing they would do would be to rip the heart out of it, which seems effectively like what they decided to do.”

“It just seems such a waste,” said Branson, “I wonder what it was that Alaska bought and why did they bother?”

Branson also noted that Alaska has to continue on paying royalties on the Virgin America brand under the licensing deal until 2040, “despite what you might have been told.”

The Virgin Atlantic route to Seattle (VS105) departs Heathrow daily at 1:20 p.m. and arrives in Seattle at 3 p.m. and leaves Seattle daily at 5:50 p.m. and arrives the next day in London at 10:50 a.m.


The route is being served by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft with 264 seats, including 31 lie-flat “Upper Class” seats, 35 premium economy seats and 198 economy seats.

Photo – Harriet Baskas




China’s Xiamen Air arrives in Seattle


Xiamen Airlines inaugural flight linking Xiamen-Shenzhen-Seattle, 26 September 2016.

(Courtesy Port of Seattle)

On Monday, China’s Xiamen Airlines kicked off its inaugural flight linking Seattle with Shenzhen and Xiamen.

It’s a big deal for the airline, as the route represents their first route to the United States and the first direct route between the US and Shenzhen – one of China’s wealthiest cities.

Here are few more pics from the inaugural day events.