Browsing Tag: Horizon Air

Me about to board the Q400 in Seattle. I should have waved, presidential-style.

Me about to board the Q400 in Seattle. I should have waved, presidential-style.

I have flown the route from Seattle to Reno many times in my life. From Reno Air back in the day, to Southwest, to America West to Alaska Airlines. The flight is easy, only about 1.5hrs, enough time to take off, get a drink and snacks and start the descent. In April 2008 Horizon Air took over the route for Alaska and since then, they have been the cheapest to fly. I actually prefer the flight on Horizon’s Q400’s versus Alaska’s Boeing 737 (or MD-80’s back in the day).

The main reason is, I love flying in smaller planes. It really lets the passenger connect with the flying experience. I think a lot of people do not like flying on smaller planes just for this reason. Unlike the larger planes, you get to board on the tarmac, which allows you to see the entire plane, not just a few inches around the door when you board in a jetway. The inside of the Q400 is set up in a 2-2 layout, so you always get a window or aisle. Of course I always go for the window, but I am happy to know if I don’t get one, I won’t be stuck in the middle.

Mount Rainier, just outside of Seattle, was one of many mountains you can see on the Seattle to Reno flight.

Mount Rainier, just outside of Seattle, was one of many mountains you can see on the Seattle to Reno flight.

On this trip I was in a group of four people, which allowed me to get a few photos of me with the plane and even better photos from both sides of the plane while flying. The flight from Seattle to Reno is beautiful. From Mount Rainier to Crater Lake, if it isn’t cloudy, you are in for a real treat. The Q400’s fly quite a bit lower at about 25,000 feet versus 30,000 to 40,000 with larger aircraft and their wings are high, which means everyone has an awesome view.

We all checked in the day before online and only had carry-ons, so we didn’t have to wait in any Horizon lines, just put up with the security ones. Horizon has a semi-hybrid option between carry-on and checking your bags, called Ala Cart. Since the overhead bins are smaller than you would find on larger aircraft, not all carry-ons can fit in them. If yours cannot fit or you don’t want to lug it on the plane you can put your carry-on on a cart while boarding. They will put it on another cart when you arrive at your destination. It’s way quicker than having to wait in baggage claim not to mention, the Ala Cart option is free. If you do need to check your bag, it will cost you $20 per bag, up to 3 bags. Like their sister carrier, Alaska Airlines, Horizon also provides the 20 minute checked baggage guarantee.

Beautiful downtown Reno, just about to land.

Beautiful downtown Reno, just about to land.

Talking about Alaska Airlines, Horizon’s relationship with them is quite unique. Some people think of Horizon as Alaska’s regional carrier, but they are set up very differently. Both airlines have a parent company, Alaska Air Group which owns and manages both airlines.  Most regionals fly for a larger airlines for fees and Horizon will sometimes fly for Alaska, but they mostly fly under their own brand. Horizon has their own marketing department, their own ads and unique brand of service. You will see the two airlines share a website together, but both logos are prominently displayed.

One thing that does make Horizon unique is offering free, regional wines and micro-brews, ah yea…can’t miss out on this. Our flight left at 7:40am, but that didn’t stop us from trying out some of that free local wine and beer. I mean, come-on it was the blog right?! Horizon is also offering free snack-packs on their Seattle to Portland flight, but I have yet been able to experience that first hand.

Passengers were able to de-board from the front and back of the Q400, making it super quick. Employees are getting the Ala Cart bags out.

Passengers were able to de-board from the front and back of the Q400, making it super quick. Employees are getting the Ala Cart bags out.

A passenger in our group (we shall call her “Rita”) was a little apprehensive about flying on a smaller aircraft. I know many others out there have that same fear. However, I quickly pointed out that Horizon Air is extremely safe and has never had a fatality since they started flying in 1981 and haven’t had any sort of incident since 1990. That made Rita feel much more comfortable and after the flight she very much loved her Horizon experience (maybe the glass of wine she had at 8am helped too).

The Horizon Q400’s might be a bit slower than jet airliners, but they are much more cost effective and friendly for the environment. Horizon has green stickers on each of their planes touting how green they are and even painted one of their Q400’s entirely green (can you see “Shrek” as they call it here or here?)

I definitely get excited to fly on Horizon and flying on the Q400’s and hope that some of you can feel a bit more at ease flying in smaller planes in the future.

Check out my (ok our, thanks Ben, Rita and Amy) additional pictures of the trip.

UPDATE: I have been informed there are two green Q400’s, nicknamed “Shrek” and “Fiona.”

Some of the snacking goodness you will find in the box! Photo from Clint @ Horizon -- Thanks!

Some of the snacking goodness you will find in the box! Photo from Clint @ Horizon -- Thanks!

I love watching TV on the internet. I don’t even have cable anymore. Yea I still have to sit through a few advertisements, but totally worth it to get 100% free online shows. There have been many instances where looking at ads get you free stuff. Now Horizon Airlines and Air Advertainment are bringing a limited number of passengers free food!

On May 24th passengers on Horizon Air flight 2631 from Seattle to Portland were able to experience the first free food. The first test is being sponsored by Creative Labs, which is promoting a Facebook contest to name a new video camera. The boxes include a variety of snacks and over the next 20 days some 25,000 boxes will be handed out to Horizon passengers.

’œWith certain airlines cutting services and adding charges, this program is a welcome addition for passengers and operators alike,’ said Mary L. Macesich, co-founder and Vice President of Air Advertainment. ’œPassengers are thrilled to receive a snack or bite to eat, the airlines are excited to be able to provide it at no cost, and the brand finally has the ability to connect with the public in captive environment where they are spending time, largely undistracted. All with a social media kick.’

There is a lot of potential here, since passengers are stuck (well, I love flying, so I never see it as “stuck” but most people do) in the airplane and now have something to entertain them. Like reading the ads on a bus for entertainment purposes.

Companies could also advertise on the boxes and put coupons like “take this to our Seattle/Portland location and get 20% off.”

“We can broadcast in a big way to build a brand image or be really razor sharp with accuracy just like in the Seattle-Portland market,” Mr. Matway said. He said the demographic of the Horizon airline passenger flying that route is of a very tech-oriented and sophisticated traveler with an income of more than $100,000. “Marketers have asked if they could control all of the flights into the [consumer-electronics show] or sporting events like the Super Bowl,” Ryan Matway, president of Air Advertainment told

I like this. It is a win-win-win for all involved. Depending on the contract, airlines could actually walk away making money on giving away free food. Airlines could MAKE MONEY giving out food and passengers pay nothing? How could other airlines not want to add this service?

Jen Boyer Manager of Media Relations for Horizon Air told me that, “passengers have reacted very favorably to the snacks.” When I asked if Horizon is making money off this arrangement, Boyer explained, “While we don’t normally comment on our business practices with other businesses, I can tell you our primary motivation in this partnership was to elevate our inflight services for our customers. Now, in addition to free Northwest wines and microbrews, Starbucks coffee, water and sodas, we offer a nice snack pack free of charge.” If things go well, Horizon is hoping to add the free snacks on additional flights.

Cheers to both Air Advertainment and Horizon for making this work and I hope to see these on more flights in the future!

Photo taken when I put Alaska's guarentee to the test!

Photo taken when I put Alaska's guarantee to the test!

Airline fees are not very unique anymore. It takes a bit more than a fee change or new fee to motivate me enough to write a blog on it  (like charging for carry-ons). Why does Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air get a blog on fees?

Not because they are raising some fees (1st checked bag from $15 to $20) or that they are lowering others (2nd checked back from $25 to $20, 3rd from $50 to $20), but because they are making their from plane-to-you bag guarantee even better.

Previously if you checked a bag with Alaska or Horizon, they guaranteed your bag would reach the baggage carousel 25 minutes or less from the time your airplane made it to the jetway. Now that they are raising the prices for some passengers, they are improving the guarantee to only 20 minutes.

If your bag doesn’t make it in 20minutes, you can either get $20 off your next flight or 2000 miles (I vote take the miles). A while back I put their guarantee to the test on a flight from Seattle to Phoenix and my bag made it in just over 15 minutes.

Yea, fees are annoying, but they aren’t going away. At least one airline gives you something extra with your baggage fees!

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Electronic boarding passes are probably the future of airline travel.

Electronic boarding passes are probably the future of airline travel. Image from Alaska Airlines.

The future is nearing. A little over a year ago I talked about electronic boarding passes becoming a reality.  Today, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are launching both a mobile-friendly website and electronic boarding passes for passengers flying from Anchorage, Boise, Denver, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle and Spokane.  There are already 30 airports and six airlines testing out this technology: Continental, Delta, Alaska, Horizon and American. Surprisingly, Alaska and Horizon are the first non-legacy airlines to test out the new technology.

Travellers are able to check in using their mobile phone up to 24 hours in advance of their flight. They are given an encrypted barcode along with the passenger and flight information. While going through security, TSA will be able to scan the electronic ticket, check id and the passenger is good to go.

“Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air’s electronic boarding pass and optimized mobile Web site meet the needs of today’s high-tech traveler, ” said Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience. “Starting today, our customers can expedite the airport check-in process even more and get from curbside to planeside in record time.”

In the next few months, the service will be spread to other Alaska and Horizon cities. In the future, they told me we, “will see more mobile device enhancements to make travel more convenient.”

Is this the future of airline travel? I really think so. No more having to double check to make sure you have your boarding passes. No more having to track down a departure screen to see what your flight status is. The biggest problem will be remember to charge your phone before leaving. Nothing would be more frustrating than waiting in security for 30 minutes, have your phone die, having to go wait in line to get your boarding pass, then get through security again.

Personally, I haven’t been able to test out this new technology. Have any of you been able to? What are your thoughts?

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Photo I took on one of my visits to KPAE. Would the Dreamlifter like some company from airlines?

Photo I took on one of my visits to KPAE. Would the Dreamlifter like some company from airlines?

Last night I attended a  meeting for the public to comment on commercial air travel starting at Paine Field (KPAE) located in Everett, WA. KPAE is about 20 miles north of downtown Seattle and about 40 miles north of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and it would provide the Seattle area with a second option for flights.

KPAE is best known for where the Boeing 777, 787, 747 and 767 are made. It currently does not have any commercial service, but obviously has a runway capable of handling it.

I have a personal attachment to this story (other than being an aviation nerd). I recently bought a house that is right in the flight path of KPAE. I realize this is a negative to some people, but I very much enjoy catching a glimpse of a Dreamlifter or new Boeing 787 flying over. I would love sitting out on a summer day watching additional aircraft fly over, but I realize I am in the minority. Looking at all the positives and negatives, I am very much in favor of commercial flights starting at KPAE.

Two airlines are the main supporters for the FAA to amend the operation regulations for KPAE and allow scheduled commercial service: Horizon Air and Allegiant Air.

Horizon Air is looking to start with operating four times per day to Portland, OR and twice per day to Spokane, WA using 75-seat Bombarider Q400 turboprop airplanes, which are some of the quietest in the industry.  Horizon is planning to increase to six flights per day by 2016 and currently have no plans for adding any additional cities.

Allegiant Air is looking to provide a flight to Las Vegas, NV twice per week using 150-seat MD83 aircraft. Allegiant is planning to increase to around ten flights per week by 2016.

Currently KPAE sees about 150,800 operations (take offs or landings) per year. With the addition of Horizon and Allegent flights, those operations would only increase by a little less than 5,000 per year and  by 8,000 in 2016. These are rough estimates done by the review committee and don’t take into account if the airlines provide more flights than they are planning or if other airlines start flying out of KPAE.

There were about 40 citizens that spoke at the meeting, with over 100 in attendance. It was obvious that the majority of the people there were strongly against commercial flights and they had no problem voicing their strong opinions. Some people brought up some interesting points and at times I wish it was more of a conversation than people just giving their one-sided opinions. Some of the most common points against commercial flights at KPAE:

* It will increase noise. I personally understand this, as I said I live under the flight path. But I already have Boeing 747’s, 777’s (and soon 787’s) flying overhead. The addition of a Q400 and MD83 will be minimal. I grew up under the flight path of a military base and constantly had planes flying over at very low altitude. After a while it is something you don’t even notice and it shouldn’t be something to lower a person’s quality of life.

* The airport will grow much larger, causing problems. Some fear that KPAE could grow as large as SEA, but I don’t think there is the demand. Some cited Allegiant growing so rapidly at Bellingham, WA.  However Bellingham, WA is just miles from Canada and provides an airport option for two large cities. Sabrina LoPiccol with Allegiant media relations pointed out to me, “Bellingham is a truly unique market in our system and much of its growth is due to its proximity to Canada and more specifically the major metro area of Vancouver.”

* This will lower house values. Again, I could be a victim of this too. People compared the lower house values and the low-quality surrounding the airport.  I do not see KPAE getting large like SEA. Snohomish County (the county that KPAE is in) has no interest in lowering housing values or creating a “slum” around the airport. Many people  said they were promised that KPAE would never have commercial flights when they bought their homes. It was mentioned when I bought my house, but I know the reality and when buying a house in the area of a major airport, there is a chance it will grow.

Even if this is approved and commercial service can start at KPAE, there is no guarantee they will. I spoke with Jen Boyer at Horizon and she pointed out they started showing interest in October 2008 when the economy was a little different. She told me, “When we have clarity on the environmental study and the terminal we will re-assess the situation in light of an economy that is very different than it was more than a year ago and also against other competing opportunities for the limited number of aircraft we have available to start new service.”

Most of the complaints seemed to be concerned about the individual and not about the community as a whole. Do I want my house value to drop? Of course not. But am I willing to let my value drop for the benefit of the greater good of the region? Yes, I am. When any NIMBY goes in by someone’s backyard (powerplant, jail, train tracks, interstate, etc.) of course there are going to be people against it. But all these things are needed for a proper running society and some of us need to make sacrifices.

Seattle is a well-known city and has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. SEA is south of Seattle and the population has grown very much to the north. Most major cities or major metropolitan areas have multiple airport choices and for the common good, competition, and more flight options. I hope Horizon Air and Allegiant flights will be starting soon from KPAE.

I would love to hear your opinion and if you want the official people making this decision to hear you, email them at ca**********@fa*.gov or ai******************@sn***.org. Official comment period runs through Feb 15th, 2010.

More Information:
* Video from KING 5
* Story from Everett Herald with time line
* Read the full text of the “Commercial Air Service Environmental Assessment”

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