Paine Field Airport

Seattle’s 2nd airport – Paine Field – opens March 4

Courtesy Propeller Airports

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.

Paine Field passenger terminal waiting area. Photo_Harriet Baskas

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.

No telling what you’ll see while waiing for your fligh at Paine Field. We saw this unmarked “Janet Airlines” plane – thought to ferry goverment workers between Las Vegas and locations such as Area 51. – Photo Harriet Baskas

Where 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.”

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 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?

Photo Harriet Baskas

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.

The lobby

Solari flight display board will emit retor ‘flapping’ sounds. Photo Harriet Baskas

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 pre-check.

The main terminal

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 hangar.)

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 café.

Arrivals

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

Paine Field – Snohomish Country Airport (PAE) was originally built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project with the goal of being one of ten “super airports” around the country.

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.