RDU’s stunning Terminal 2 ticketing area – Photo: RDU Airport Authority
Two cities on either side of the country have become the epicenter of a battle royale that would make wrestling promoter Vince McMahon proud. Put on your best ring announcing voice and proclaim this the “Battle of SEA and RDU!” (rolls off the tongue better than “Seattle-Tacoma International Airport versus Raleigh–Durham International Airport)
Through a TV news and PR career, I’ve lived in some cities I would have never imagined, including six years in Raleigh, NC (2001 to 2007). Back then, American Airlines dominated with regional jet service to smaller cities and big planes to major hubs of Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and New York.
Delta mainly flew to Atlanta and Cincinnati. You also had the option of Northwest Airlines to its hub cities of Memphis, Minneapolis, and Detroit. One city not on the list back then was Seattle. I flew out to the Emerald City in 2005 to see my Minnesota Twins in the baseball opener via a connection in Minneapolis on Northwest.
What a difference a decade makes. Thanks to increased competition and more nonstop flights to cities that were once ignored by the airlines, the consumer has more choices than ever as Seattle and Raleigh, NC have two nonstop flights that started within the past two years. RDU also has a stunning updated terminal that makes Sea-Tac’s 1970’s airport look even worse than its brown facade and cramped restrooms seem.
Alaska was first with nonstop Seattle to Charleston, SC and Raleigh, NC flights. It was a roll of the dice for Alaska, who does not have much brand recognition east of the Mississippi. The Charleston flight was literally a gift to Boeing, since so many of its employees shuttle between the two cities (due to their 787 factory there). Raleigh has a big tech and pharmaceutical community, so the airlines are banking on that business.
Alaska says the risk is worth the reward.
“We are all about providing nonstop access to destinations like Charleston and Raleigh making travel convenient and efficient for our guests,” Alaska spokesperson Ann Johnson tells AirlineReporter. “Since we started service in Charleston and RDU, we have increased it based on the demand. We have increased the number of days of week that we operate the Charleston service. At RDU we launched a second destination to SFO last year. Alaska offers the most nonstop service out of Seattle to top destinations.”
Delta did not respond for comment on this story.
I had a personal flight recently on Delta (I paid for and did not receive any perks for doing this story) and thought why not break down the service.
Norwegian’s inaugural flight to Seattle from London Gatwick, a Boeing 789, rolls up to the parking stand
It was a homecoming of sorts (at least for the Everett, Wash.-built 787-9) as Norwegian kicked off new 4x-weekly service from Gatwick to Seattle on Sunday, Sept. 17.
Norwegian flight DY 7131 taxiing after landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Gotta love those red-headed jetliners.
It was a lovely Seattle morning. The rain that had been forecast was late in arriving, and the plane landed early; everything came together nicely.
Taxiway Mike at Sea-Tac Airport is closed during reconstruction of runway 16C/34C – Photo: Lauren Darnielle | AirlineReporter
Last week, I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the construction currently in progress on Runway 16C/34C at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA, aka Sea-Tac). The center runway closed on May 4th for a complete reconstruction and is scheduled to re-open October 30th, so the project is already well underway.
At 9,426 feet in length, 16C/34C is Sea-Tac’s second-longest runway, consisting of over 4,000 concrete panels, each measuring 20 feet x 18.75 feet. Needless to say, reconstructing a runway is a huge undertaking, so there was plenty to see on our tour!
During construction, it is business as usual on the other two runways and the open taxiways – Photo: Lauren Darnielle | AirlineReporter
Originally built in 1969, 16C/34C is the oldest runway at Sea-Tac. It was designed to last 20 years, so it has more than done its duty. Upon completion of this reconstruction project, all three of Sea-Tac’s runways will have been constructed or rebuilt within the last seven years. 16R/34L (the hotly-contested “third runway”) was built in 2008, and the longest runway, 16L/34R, was reconstructed in 2009.
“We continue to grow at a tremendous rate and the reconstruction of Sec-Tac’s center runway is vital to serve the demands of our region with progressive steps to improve safety, efficiency and environmental stewardship”, said Mike Ehl, Director, Aviation Operations. “This will bring all of our runways up to modern standards for reliable use for decades to come.”
Hainan Airlines inaugural of new non-stop service to Shanghai, Gate S1. – Photo: Don Wilson | Port of Seattle
What’s better than one inaugural flight? Two, of course. Recently, Hainan Airlines started service from Shanghai (PVG) to Seattle (SEA) using an Airbus A330-200, and also Beijing to San Jose (SJC) using a Boeing 787-8. We had writers at both events to cover the occasion. It might be the same airline, but each of the inaugurals were unique.
Welcoming water cannon salute for the 787 – Photo: Michael Restivo | AirlineReporter
We are going to give you the run down of both inaugurals in one story, leading with Lauren, who was in Seattle, and then Michael, who was in San Jose. Both tell it from their own personal perspective — what was it like for them to attend their first inaugural flight media event?