Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

That ‘unauthorized’ Horizon Air flight: now what?

That “unauthorized” Horizon Air flight at Seattle Tacoma International Airport: now what?

Courtesy Alaska AIrlines

You’ve no doubt heard about the Horizon Air grounds crew employee who took a turboprop airplane – a Q400 – for an unauthorized flight out of Seattle Tacoma International Airport on Friday night. The man, identified later as Richard Russell, flew the plane around the region for about an hour before crashing into a small island.

With military jets trailing, and local media and eyewitnesses reporting what was in process, Russell did some acrobatic stunts with the plane and talked with an incredibly calm-sounding air traffic controller at SEA  airport:

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and on Saturday officials from the airlines along with officials from agencies involved in the investigation held a press conference to discuss what they knew at that point -and what would happen next:

Human remains – presumably Russell’s – and the aircraft’s black box have been  located in the wreckage of the plane and now the discussions will focus on how this happened – and how to keep it from happening again.

On his site, security aviation expert Jeff Price writes that this incident – which he says will be filed as an ‘insider threat’ –  “Is not a failure of the airport security system. Airports are responsible for access to the ramp; airlines are responsible for access to the airplane.” He goes on to explore some of the solutions that will explored.

James Fallows has a good recap in The Atlantic – linking to many of the initial reporting that helped us figure out what was happening as the event unfolded.

On his “Ask the Pilot” blog, Patrick Smith, discusses the incident, saying that while an insider threat does exist, “This particular kind of threat, however — the idea of random employees getting hold of planes — shouldn’t be overplayed.” Some other “Now what?” thoughts can be found here. 

But the incident does raise serious question about airport and airline security and, as this story in the Seattle Times notes, “The answers to these questions could eventually alter security procedures not only at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport but at other airports around the country.”

What do you think might – and should – change at airports as a result of this incident?

Freebies + cool offers to take advantage of now

Like the free ice water that made South Dakota’s Wall Drug famous, free stuff is a great treat when you’re on the road or out and about in your own town.

Here are few free offers and cool deals to take advantage of this weekend and into next week:

Free Museum Admission

On the first full weekend of each month, anyone who has flashes a Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust credit or debit card and a photo ID gets free admission to more than 200 museums, science centers, gardens and other attractions participating in the Museums on Us program around the country.

Free food 

PotBelly Sandwich Shop is offering a bunch of free food items to members of its free-to-join Potbelly Perks program August 6-12.

Air fare deal

Need to bring a few suitcases of cash to the Cayman Islands? Or just want a great deal on a flight to this vacation destination?

From August 3 to 11, Cayman Airways is celebrating its 50th anniversary with some great discounted fares, plus extra perks such as 3 checked bags and lounge access, for flight from Miami, Tampa and New York booked for travel September 7 through November 7.

Fun hotel package for Pearl Jam fans

Not free – but fun: In Seattle,  The Edgewater over-the-water hotel has put together a package with the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). The Rock the Suite package includes tickets to the museum’s Pearl Jam: Home and Away exhibition, overnight accommodations at the hotel’s Pearl Jam Suite, and signature Pearl Jam cocktails in the  Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge.

Pearl Jam fans should also note that there’s a free Pearl Jam exhibit put together by the Museum of Pop Culture in the-presecurity area of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Know of a great freebie for travelers? Please send it along.

Travel Tidbits from SEA, TPA and Changi airports

Happy Friday! Here are some travel tidbits and ‘coming atttractions’ from several airports.

Happy Birthday Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is marking its birthday month with a variety of local events. The airport first opened to the public on July 9, 1949,

Courtesy Port of Seattle

Looking forward, travelers will soon be able to drink beer brewed on-site at Tampa International Airport:

And for long-haul travel, Singapore’s Changi Airport has rolled out a new stopover program that includes a (one-way) hotel transfer, a SIM card and an overnight stay at one of 20 participating hotels.  Packages start at S$63 – about $46 US dollars.

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.

 

 

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.