Browsing Tag: Horizon

My first Alaska Air E175 pulls up to SLC

It has been a few years since I first flew on an Embraer E-Jet. That was on Air Canada, from Seattle to Toronto and I was sitting up front. The very long (for a smaller aircraft) flight was a breeze, but being in first class surely helped.

Since then, I have not had the opportunity to fly on another one. When I saw that Alaska Airlines was adding them to their fleet (via SkyWest and Horizon), I was excited. I figured it would only be a matter of time before I would get the chance to fly one, and when I recently took a trip down to Salt Lake City (SLC), I got my opportunity.

On my flight down, I flew on an Alaska 737-800 — been there, done that. But when I looked at my flight options back home, I saw that there was the option to fly on the E175. Yes… that please.

Paine Field already sees aircraft from Southwest, Alaska Airlines and Allegiant coming in for maintenance work. Why not for passengers?

Paine Field already sees aircraft from Southwest, Alaska Airlines and Allegiant coming in for maintenance work. Why not for passengers?

The fight for Seattle to get a second airport up north has been dragging on longer than many have expected. For those of you who do not live in the Seattle area, Allegiant and Horizon Airlines started to look into the possibility of flying out of Paine Field, which is located in Everett, WA. Talking to Horizon, Allegiant, Boeing and the airport recently, they all say there are currently no updates for the addition of commercial flights.

There are a lot of positives about adding commerical flights to Paine Field, but there are a lot of people who are fighting hard to “save our community”. Wait, what?

Since 1992 a group, called Save Our Community, has come together and tried to stop commerical aviation at Paine Field. Their main goal is to preserve, “the quality of life in this primarily residential area of Puget Sound.”

Now, I feel they do have a few good points. If the traffic at Paine Field is increased, this could cause issues for Boeing and possibly make them look to move their main factory to other parts of the country. Of course, no one would want that to happen.

However, I don’t think allowing commercial flights would cause Boeing to leave and there is surely a happy medium that could be reached. Adding commercial flights at Paine Field would create many new jobs in the Everett area with the need for additional hotels, increase in tourism and the hiring of airline workers.

Personally, I think the arguement that the quality of life for everyone around the airport would deteriate is just hogwash. During public forums in the Everett, WA area back in January 2010, many people felt that the Paine Field area would become dirty, filled with porn and crime, forcing people to leave. Many complained that they bought homes around an airport and are upset about the idea of increased flights. For me, many people seemed to be quite selfish about the matter.

I live in the flight path of Paine Field and bought my house fully well knowing that. Sure, I am a bit different since I actually enjoy aircraft flying over my house, but people shouldn’t assume to buy a house around a very large airport and not expect planes to fly over. People have complained that adding MD-80 and Q400 flights would be a huge nuisance, which is odd, since we already have Boeing 747’s and even the Dreamlifter, which are much bigger and louder, flying overhead. Not to mention the Boeing 737s that fly in all the time to get maintenance work done. Would adding a few smaller planes really make our lives that much worse? I feel the possibility of commercial flights coming out of Paine Field should be driven by market demand and not private citizens fearful for the value of their homes.

The Save Our Community website states that people who run Paine Field, “are going all out to declare war against the community by working to bring in air service to Paine Field.” Really? War? If people in the community come together and create a demand for air travel in and out of Paine Field, why shouldn’t airlines meet that demand? No airline is going to start flights to a new destination without expecting to make profit. It is not like airport and airline officials are getting together just to make your life worse. In fact, starting commercial traffic to Paine Field will make more people’s lives better.

Competition is a beautiful thing. If airlines are able to fly out of Paine Field, it will cause competition for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport  down south and for Bellingham International Airport up north. This means that not only will the airlines be competing for your business, but so will the airports.

Yes, some people will have to make some sacrifices, but we have to look at the greater good for our community. Could my house value drop if there is an increase of flights. Sure. Am I willing for that to happen for the greater good of the community — of course. What do you think? Would adding commercial flights at an airport that normally doesn’t have them, but could handle them be a good or bad thing?

 

The test bag, at Alaska Airlines baggage check counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, ready to start its journey to Phoenix

The test bag, at Alaska Airlines baggage check counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, ready to start its journey to Phoenix

One of my least favorite parts of flying is waiting for my bag in baggage claim. First you wait to see which carousel your bags will come out on. Then you wait for them to change the carousel number. Then you get excited when the lights flash and the conveyor belt starts moving, but normally you are waiting a bit more until bags come out. Sometimes you are lucky and your bags come off the conveyor belt early, but other times, it can take upwards of an hour to get all your luggage (if they show up at all).

Alaska Airlines currently has a promotion that is changing the game. If you do not get your checked bags with-in 25 minutes of your flight reaching the gate, you will get a $25 discount code for a future flight on Alaska Airlines or Horizon Airlines or you can choose to get 2,500 Mileage Plan bonus miles.

I wanted to check-in on how the promo was going and talked to Greg Latimer, who is the  Managing Director of Brand and Product Marketing for Alaska Airlines. He explained that the airline checks about 20,000 bags per day and since the start of this promo on July 7th only a few hundred certificates have been claimed. He admitted that not that long ago, Alaska Airlines wouldn’t have been able to complete the task of getting all checked bags to customers in 25 minutes, but they have been working hard and are  proud of their accomplishment.

It took less than 15:18 for the bag to be ready for pick-up, but it took me that long to get the baggage claim.

It took less than 15:18 for the bag to be ready for pick-up in Phoenix, but it took me that long to get the baggage claim.

The promotion and stats looked great on paper, but I wanted to put this to the test. It was good timing. I was heading from Seattle, WA to Phoenix, AZ this weekend and flying on Alaska. It was only for a few days and normally would have just carried on my bag, but it was worth the $15  to check a bag and find out if Alaska could deliver on this guarantee.  I had no problems checking my bag at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I decided to go with an orange bag (actually a friend’s bag who was traveling with me, but mine was a boring black one) to track its journey.

The flight went great (except there was no Skymall magazine in the seatback…so I couldn’t see the new gadgets) and landed almost on time. Once we pulled up to the gate at Phoenix International Airport, I started the timer. I was flying back in row 26, so it took me a while to get off the plane, but the terminal is small and I went quickly to make sure I got there before the 25 minute mark. By the time I got to baggage claim, there was the orange bag, already out, making the rounds. It was only 15:18 when I saw the bag. I am not going to lie, I was very impressed. So few times have I flown and had my bag waiting for me on the carousel.

This policy just makes sense. With airlines charging to check bags (Alaska Airlines charges $15 for 1st bag and $25 for second), it seems silly passengers should have to wait so long to get their bags. Instead passengers will bring carry-ons causing issues with space and slowing down the security process (took me 35minutes to get through security and I had no carry-ons, but 99% of everyone else did).  Ladimer told me they aren’t sure what Alaska is going to do after this promotion expires on December 31st. I know it might not be sustainable to offer $25 of 2,500 miles for the long term, but I really hope they can keep up the guarantee in some fashion. I am optimistic that other airlines might follow suit and make a better effort in the speed at which they have bags ready for pick-up. I personally know I am much more likely to pay for a checked bag if I know my bag will be there quick.

UPDATE 01/01/10: Alaska tells me they have extended this deal until at least July 31, 2010.