SeaPort Air Pilatus PC-12 (N58VS) parked at Portland before our flight back to Seattle.

SeaPort Air Pilatus PC-12 (N58VS) parked at Portland before our flight back to Seattle.

You might be an aviation geek if you take a flight, wait around for five minutes, then get back on the plane to fly home. I love doing that stuff and I recently got to fly SeaPort Air from Seattle to Portland to check out their product (disclaimer: I did not have to pay for my flight).

SeaPort Air is one interesting airline. Service started in June of 2008 flying between Seattle and Portland. However they not only fly to additional destinations in Oregon, they also fly to destinations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Say what? Do not worry, I will explore the airline’s interesting history in another blog. On this one I want to take a look at their flight from Seattle to Portland.

Not a shabby view. Nice thing about a small plane is you can take photos out your neighbor's window.

Not a shabby view. Nice thing about a small plane is you can take photos out of your neighbor's window.

Unlike most other flights out of Seattle, that leave from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), SeaPort flies out of King County International Airport (aka Boeing Field – BFI), which is located just north of SEA. The big benefit of operating out of BFI is no TSA. That means, no privacy invading body scanners, no putting your toiletries into a ziploc bag and no waiting in long lines. SeaPort has no problem advertising the lack of TSA. On their website they state, “No lines. No rubber gloves. No need to take your shoes off. Simply arrive 15 minutes before your flight, board and go.” What a simple concept. SeaPort shares a common ticket and boarding area with Kenmore Express, the only two scheduled airlines that currently operate out of BFI.

This aircraft was in executive configuration. Yes, that is suave on the walls and ceiling -- classy.

This aircraft was in executive configuration. Yes, that is suede on the walls and ceiling -- classy.

SeaPort is geared towards the business traveler. They fly the Pilatus PC-12 which they have set up to hold 6-9 passengers. My flight was in an executive configuration of six passengers and I got to sit backwards flying south (photo of commuter configuration). With the pressurized cabin, turboprop engine and executive layout, the flight really felt VIP.  During flight, the Pilatus felt much larger than other aircraft of the same size.

My big regret was not sitting on the left side of the plane on the flight down to Portland. Even though it was the middle of November, the sky was clear and there was plenty of great mountain eye-candy to be seen. Luckily for me, the passenger sitting next to me didn’t mine me taking a few shots out his window (he was sleeping). When coming back to BFI I wanted to sit on the right side to catch the views I missed on the way down. However Christian, one of the pilots, suggested I sit on the left side. He explained we would be doing a fly-by of downtown Seattle on a northern approach to BFI and it would be worth it. I took his advise and I am glad I did. Unfortunately it was night time by the time we reached the city, which provided an amazing few, but taking photos was difficult (photo).

Speaking of pilots, you will find two of them upfront. Airlines are able to fly with only one pilot on the Pilatus PC-12, but SeaPort has decided to fly with two. This is an unusual business decision, since not only does the second pilot cost more money, they also take up a seat that could be used for revenue. Although most passengers prefer having two pilots, I prefer only having one, since that gives me a chance to sit in the empty co-pilot’s seat.

Even though there is no direct BFI-PDX competition, both Horizon (with their their Q400’s or CRJ700’s) and United Express (with their E120s) fly on the SEA-PDX route. Flying on SeaPort Air via BFI versus others airlines at SEA definitely has some benefits. Passengers get free parking both at BFI and SeaPort’s terminal at PDX and of course you don’t have to deal with TSA at either. Even though SeaPort’s ticket prices might be a bit higher, when you factor in free parking and no bag charge, the overall cost becomes very competitive.

Time, especially with business travelers, can be worth much more than money. When I landed back at BFI, from the time the plane was stopped, to me pulling out of the parking lot in my car it was about three minutes (yes I was timing it). Try doing that at SEA.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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13 Comments

How much would this round trip flight have cost?

Hey Jeff,

You can see in the comments that Sanjeev beat me to it. The prices are on par with UALexpress and Horizon, but has more benefits.

David

Just looking at Kayak, sample fares for United and Horizon are about $99 round trip- add $10.70 for taxes. SeaPort generally comes around $99 in the off peak hours like midday to $121 in the peak afternoon. Like David said, with free parking and savings in time, a couple of dollars is easily made up for.

Just linked to this article from the Google News home page. Very Cool, congrats.

I just noticed yesterday that SeaPort is flying from Great Falls to Portland. I had no idea!

New news for me and a great little line with spunk. I quickly determined that the Use it or Loose it Fare, PDX-BFI-PDX is about $210, which is a darn good price – considering the conveniences. Nice blog! (See private note via email.)

Addendum: I don’t know where I’ve been sleeping, but I had never heard of the PC-12 aircraft. Swiss built and with >1000 copies out the door, it is one hack of a machine on one engine. The single engine thing for a commercial operator troubles me a bit, but only a bit; it is one impressive machine. C.

Let’s make that ‘heck’, not ‘hack.’

Nice report about SeaPort Mr. Brown. And it is True!

It is ideal that we get unsolicited blogs about the quality of service we provide Seattle travelers. I am the Sales Manager for SeaPort and I am busy telling all of this unique opportunity to kick the habit of Sea-Tac and be in Portland in under 55 minutes. And we can have a cab WAITING for you when you arrive. But the same message from satisfied customers is the best. Let me give you a hint: If you travel several times a month you will find our Value Account an excellent option that pays you 5% to 15% plus other benefits for your travel. Maybe we should open a bank. When you need assistance at SeaPort, please contact me at [email protected] See you on board.

patricia

I flew from Portland to North Bend OR in May for the first time. I loved it and can’t say enough about the employees. Best customer service I’ve enjoyed from an airlines. In Portland u get comp coffee and Voodoo donuts which was a hoot for me. I just moved to Portland and havent made it inside Voodoo yet. SeaPort rocks.

I can not say enough wonderful things about my experience with Seaport the midwest route. My son, who is 7, flew for the first time as an unaccompanied minor. Let’s just say that my son and I were very nervous. On arrival to Kansas City MO I was welcomed with front row parking and an employee that was welcoming and reassuring. When his plane landed the pilot, Damitree (Sorry not sure of the spelling), came and talked to me and my son for twenty minutes about safety and just reassuring me. He then allowed me to walk my son to the plane and see him off. Damitree started buckling my son into his seat and my son started to cry, I could see him reassuring him that everything was going to be ok. All of your employees were wonderful and were conscious of safety and the well-fare of my son. My son’s flights from Kansas City to Memphis were wonderful and because of the extra attention he feels comfortable and unafraid of flying by himself.
You have made me a lifelong customer. My son will be flying at least once a year to see his Grandparent. I have told all my friends, family and co-workers about Seaport and how if they have an opportunity they should fly with Sea port. It was also over 200 dollars cheaper then if he would of flown a national provider.

Thank You again for making a nervous mother and a scared child feel comfortable.

Misty R. Strayhorn

Liked the price but not the 1.5 hr delay flying from Memphis to KC.

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