When you get a VIP invite to spend an afternoon spotting airplanes from the taxiways at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), you do not say “no”. You say something along the lines of “HECK YES!”
AirlineReporter Director of Photographry Francis Zera and I prepped our gear (and plenty of sunblock) and went with a group of around 15 other AvGeeks to enjoy this special time. After getting our neon PPE, badges, and a security rundown, we were escorted to a few vans waiting for us on the tarmac (I think the words “herding cats” was mentioned a few times).
It is one thing to smell jet fuel (which we did), but we also enjoyed the smell of burning rubber after each aircraft touched down. Most times I will use my longer lens when spotting at airports, but we were so close that I often had to swap out for my shorter one… and that is not a bad thing. I am by no means a professional photographer (I use auto mode, like a noob), but Francis is. So, here are some amazing photos, most taken by Francis, that we took during our little adventure…
The COVID-19 pandemic made for some mighty strange times. A January 2023 trip to Reykvavik with Icelandair marked my first time out of the United States since early 2020. I’ve been able to fly a lot domestically, but this would be the first time I’d get to use a passport in nearly three years, ending my longest international travel dry spell in decades. And, boy, was I looking forward to it, especially as Iceland is one of my very favorite destinations.
The trip was from Seattle to Keflavik on TF-FIN, a 25-year-old Boeing 757-200, a jet Icelandair has owned since it was built back in 1998.
Icelandair seems to work hard to keep its aircraft interiors in good shape; I’ve flown with them roughly 10 times in both Saga and economy, on their 737 MAX-8, 757-200, and Bombardier Dash-8s, and don’t recall having seen anything in the cabins that was in desperate need of repair.
Air Tahiti Nui launched service to Seattle on October 5, 2022, offering twice-weekly direct service to Papeete on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
“North America is a key market for our destination. So, when we decided to open a second gateway on the West Coast, Seattle was a natural answer for us,” said Air Tahiti Nui Managing Director Mathieu Bechonnet. “I would like to thank our partners at Alaska Airlines and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for their warm welcome and support in making this happen.”
The airline and airport hosted a gala-like arrivals ceremony complete with the requisite speeches, gift exchange, and traditional dancers.
The 4,785-mile flight’s scheduled duration is eight hours and forty-seven minutes, which takes a bit less time than the 4,800-mile flight from Seattle to London.
It’s arguably the most iconic livery on the most iconic aircraft in service. It’s blue-and-white livery is instantly identifiable to both AvGeeks and those who view planes as simply flying buses.
Officially designated the VC-25 by the U.S. Air Force, two heavily-modified Boeing 747-200s have been in service since 1990.
By now, most AvGeeks know that any aircraft can be designated as Air Force One – the callsign is only active if the president is on board. Thus the modified 757s (officially C-32As) can also carry the callsign when the president is aboard.
The Seattle area sees C-32As fairly regularly, as high-ranking officials other than the president often visit the region, such as the vice president. The VC-25 hasn’t been in these parts since 2018, and we last wrote about a visit here in 2015, so we were due for an update.
I might as well get this out of the way right at the start: I am a Trekkie. I have tried to love Star Wars and I can appreciate it for what it is. But I have just never been able to get into it and I know not too much about the franchise (spoiler alert: I think Darth Vader is Luke’s father and Luke is Princess Layla’s sister which caused some family awkwardness all around).
However… when you put a nice looking Star Wars livery on a 737, I can sway my sci fi space nerd alliances for one morning. This week (on what was appropriately May 4th), Alaska Airlines unveiled their newest special Disney livery.
It has an eye catching black background with many Star Wars-themed designs and a beautiful green Millennium Falcon “emblazoned” onto the tail. And this isn’t your rattle can paint job. It took 228 gallons of paint, 540 work hours, and over 27 days to complete.
This is the seventh Disney-themed aircraft for the airline; this one celebrates Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The aircraft’s official name is “Star Wars Transport to the Disneyland Resort,” but you can just call her “SWTttDR” for short.