Locals and visitors alike have lots of memories associated with riding the underground train out to the North Satellite – and all the trips taken to and from Seattle from those gates since 1973.
And Gate N7 is famous for being the gate where Annie (played by Meg Ryan) walks right past Sam (played by Tom Hanks) in the 1993 hit movie Sleepless in Seattle.
Before the next section of the North Satellite closes, SEA airport is asking travelers to send in stories and memories – and perhaps photos – of the North Satellite on the Sea-Tac Airport Facebook page and and on Instagram using #goodnightN7.
If you do, you may win a pair of SEA Airport carpet socks.
Located right in front of Terminal 1, on space formerly occupied by a parking lot, the Jewel is a large dome-shaped structure with a lush “Forest Valley,” a Rain Vortex that’s now the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, a 130-cabin YotelAIR hotel and 280 shops and restaurants.
I was on-site today for the opening-day preview events. Here are some snaps from the day.
The first commercial flights from what’s been dubbed “Seattle’s second airport” are set to take on March 4, 2019 from the brand new passenger terminal at Paine Field (PAE) in Everett, WA.
The 2-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.
Here is my “At the Airport” column for USA TODAY about the Paine Field project:
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 about 40 miles north of SEA.
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.
will you be able to fly to from Paine Field?
After a brief setback due to the partial government shutdown, Alaska Airlines is scheduled to launch service from Paine Field on March 4 with flights to Portland, Las Vegas and Phoenix after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the airport.
By March 12, the full schedule of 18 daily roundtrip
nonstop flights to 8 west coast cities – 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 SEA airport. But
there’s been more interest from leisure travelers than we thought.”
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 roundtrips to Denver and four daily roundtrips 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?
Propeller Airport CEO, Brett Smith gave me a tour of the new Paine Field passenger terminal at the end of February, less than two weeks before the facility was set to welcome its first guests.
Construction was complete, but Smith was busy
answering calls and questions about last-minute touch-ups and finish-work and making
adjustments to the lighting and the sound system. In one of the two gate hold
areas, employees from Alaska Airlines, the Transportation Security
Administration, the local sheriff’s office and other groups were doing
operational run-throughs for opening day.
With valet parking and a concierge desk at the terminal door,
Smith says 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,” said Smith, “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 imprints. 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 hotel concierge staff might offer,
including direction and recommendations for restaurants and places to stay, as
well as help with bookings. The concierge team will also escort Alaska’s 75
gold and UA 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 arraigned in advance so
that when travelers return home they will find their requests fulfilled and
waiting in their vehicles,” said Smith.
A short ramp leads to the TSA security
checkpoint area, which will have three lanes, including one devoted to TSA
Once past the security checkpoint, passengers
enter the main terminal waiting area between the two gate areas. This center
area has a plush, living room-like 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. (The day we toured, a “Janet” airlines plane,
said to ferry government employees between Las Vegas McCarran International
Airport and top-secret locations, such as Area 51, was pulling out of a
To insure 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 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 a
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Café, serving soups, sandwiches and mac ‘n cheese,
plus the Upper Case Bar, with Pacific Northwest wines, cocktails and food from
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
WWII and the Korean War changed those plans and, in 1966,
after Snohomish County took over the airport, Boeing set up its production
facility for the B-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, today 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 G. Allen.
Commercial passenger service begins March 4 from Paine Field in Everett, WA., about 30 miles north of downtown Seattle. And travelers in the area are pretty darn excited.
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines will be the only airlines flying from this upscale, two-gate terminal. But their offerings stretch pretty far:
Alaska Airlines has a schedule of 18 daily roundtrips to 8 west coast cities – Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. Service starts March 4 with flights to Portland, Las Vegas and Phoenix and expand to the full schedule by March 12.
United Airlines will begin flying six daily flights from PAE on March 31: two daily roundtrips to Denver and four daily roundtrips to San Francisco.
I’ve got a column posting shortly on USA TODAY with more information, but here are some snaps from my visit to the terminal, which looks more like an upscale lounge than a small airport.
Front of the new Paine Field passenger terminal in Everett, Wa.
Earlier this month, more than 200 ‘fake’ passengers showed
up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
They weren’t working a scam. And they weren’t there to
Instead, they were there volunteering to help Sea-Tac airport
test the operational readiness of a satellite terminal undergoing its first
major expansion and modernization in 45 years.
Happy to be spending their Saturday morning at the airport, 3-year-old
Ari Weinstein and his 6-year-old brother, Micah, were toting tiny rolling
suitcases for the day’s pretend flight.
“We thought it would be fun to check-out the new airport
addition and see how easy it was for kids,” said the boys’ dad, Ben Weinstein,
a Boeing engineer, “I’m also curious to see how the latest airport design works
with new airplanes.”
72-year-old Vicki Lockwood and her 93-year-old mom, Ruby
Griffin, had signed up to be testers too.
“I wanted to see what was happening so I can tell my friends
at the senior center what it’s all about,” said Griffin.
Travel agent Rufo Calvo volunteered as a tester so he could
get an early look at the new terminal area and tell his clients what to expect.
And Toffee Coleman, who travels four or times a month for her job in marketing
and sales, was curious to find out what the expanded terminal would offer for business
travelers. “I hope it measures up to the central terminal in terms of ease of
use, amenities and accessibility,” she said.
Opening day for the first phase of Sea-Tac airport’s
expanded North Satellite was less than two weeks away. The bathrooms, drinking
fountains, food concessions and visual paging systems weren’t quite ready, but this
“passenger-flow simulation” was testing the journey between the main terminal
and the expanded satellite as well as the process of boarding and deplaning a
flight at one of the new gates.
“We’ll also be asking the volunteers if the temperature in
the terminal is comfortable and if they can hear the overhead announcements
clearly,” said Charles Goedken, Sea-Tac’s senior manager for Operational
Readiness, Activation and Transition, or ORAT, which is the system of best
practices many airports use from the design stage forward to make sure a new
airport or new terminal is ready for opening day.
“What you try to do is to start working early with the planning and construction team so that when the airport or the facility is open everyone knows what to do,” said Lance Lyttle, the managing director of Sea-Tac Airport, “You don’t want to find issues on opening day; you want to find them before opening day.”
Lyttle was with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport when each opened new terminals and says no airport wants to relive the opening glitches experienced by Heathrow and Denver airports.
In the early 1990s, the high-profile failure of an
expensive, computerized baggage-handling system delayed the opening of Denver
International Airport by 16 months and increased the construction budget by
millions of dollars.
After that, “DEN returned to manual baggage systems,” said
Denver International Airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria.
In 2008, the grand opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport’s
turned to mush thanks to a cascading series of staffing and baggage-handling
problems that forced British Airways to suspend luggage check-in and cancel more
than 200 flights over four days. Thousands of passengers missed their flights and
more than 15,000 pieces of luggage were delayed.
“If you have a failed opening of a facility it lives as part of your reputation forever,” said Sea-Tac Airport’s Lance Lyttle, “People use it as an example. And not in a good way. Heathrow underestimated the value of ORAT. But the next time [the opening of Terminal 2, in 2014] they went overboard and got it right.”
New terminals and terminal upgrade projects are underway at
all three New York-area airports and at airports in Istanbul, Singapore, Salt
Lake City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and many other cities and
testing is key to those projects.
At Turkey’s new international in Istanbul, which is expected
to be fully open by March, 2019, the ORAT (Operational Readiness, Activation
and Transition) team reported for duty more than 20 months ago.
than 60,000 airport community staff have gone thru a familiarization and
training program,” said Stephan Schwolgin, Istanbul Airport’s ORAT project
manager, “More than 175 trials have been conducted with nearly 10.000 fake
passengers and 7 real aircraft.”
experience of unbiased, fake passengers is valuable for gathering feedback on
everything from wayfinding and flight information display systems to walking
distances and the availability of power sockets, said Schwolgin.
On February 6 Finland’s Helsinki Airport will hold a test
day with more than 200 fake passengers at the airport’s new central plaza,
called Aukio, which will serve both departing and arriving passengers.
“We will test the functionality of
services and passenger paths, especially the state-of-the-art security check
with a full body scanner,” said Joni Sundelin, Helsinki Airport’s executive
director, “The trial day includes testing not only of the passenger flow,
signage, restaurants and bathroom facilities, but also services and processes
for passengers with reduced mobility.”
During a previous test of a
different part of the airport, “There was a funny
issue with the toilets,” said Sundelin. “Test passengers were wearing brightly
colored vest and when the testers entered the bathroom all the automatic water
taps with motion sensors activated. Apparently the sensors were so sensitive
they recognized the bright yellow and orange vests moving even from the
distance,” said Sundelin.
When testing with fake passengers for San Francisco International Airport’s Boarding Area E, “We learned there was some signage too small or not universal enough,” said Kristi Hogan, Associate Vice President, Transportation for engineering firm AECOM, “No one could find the yoga room.”
For a passenger-flow simulation scheduled for
June 6 in advance of the July opening of 9 new gates at SFO’s Terminal 1,
volunteers of all ages and abilities will be asked to test the terminal signage;
flush toilets and use faucets and automatic hand dryers in the bathrooms; locate
flight display boards; test the Wi-Fi and make phone calls on their cell
“We’ll have some fake passengers arrive on the
BART train and have others get dropped off at the curb,” said Hogan, “And we’ll
also ask them to become arriving passengers and make their way to baggage
claim, to taxis or to BART.
Trials and simulations will also soon be
underway in advance of the scheduled May 15 opening of the new terminal at Louis
Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
“These simulations will test everything from
parking, ticket counters, security checkpoints, flight monitors, restrooms,
gates, concessions, emergency exits, lost and found, and ground transportation,”
said MSY spokeswoman Erin Burns.
Emergency response systems, baggage systems,
PA systems and everything on the facility maintenance side will also get
tested, said Burns, including simultaneous toilet flushes & sink use, seating,
power access and severe weather operations.
Employees and fake passengers will performed many
of these tests but, with perhaps the Denver and Heathrow terminal debacles in
mind, Burns said data on how MSY passengers might experience the facility will
also be gathered during sneak peaks events held in the terminal right up to the