Painless Travel at Everett’s Paine Field

We were excited to hear about Alaska Airlines starting new service from Everett’s Paine Field airport. For people who live in the north Puget Sound region or who live in north Kitsap county, getting to Seatac Airport can be a real drag, what with topography and traffic.

security lines at Seatac Airport
Seatac Airport on an average day

And Seatac Airport itself is always extremely busy. It seems there is never a slack time there anymore. Security lines are long and surly. The whole experience there is an ordeal. You’d think it was Heathrow or something.

Now, however, there is a much more relaxed departure and arrival point for those of us living north of the city. Alaska Airlines has begun service to major west coast cities from Everett’s Paine Field (airport code PAE). We had a chance to try it out when we bopped down to Los Angeles for Greek Orthodox Easter.

Modern Facility, Retro Experience

Remember when airlines weren’t doing you a favor by letting you travel with them but rather they were courteous, relaxed and glad to host you on your journey? Remember when an airport didn’t harken back to the heyday of the Chicago stockyards? When remarks about good times on Ellis Island were not appropo?

Brett Smith, the CEO of Propeller Airports does, and he wants to restore civility to the air travel experience.

Fireplace and orchids in the Paine Field Airport lounge
A fireplace and orchids are a first class upgrade from the Seatac experience.

The new facility at Paine Field is small, clean, quiet and civilized. It has only 2 gates: Gate 1 and Gate 2! Isn’t that adorable? Well, 3 actually, since there is a 2A and a 2B. So far only Alaska and United are flying out of PAE, which is just fine with us. It has a parking lot, not a garage. You just drive up and let your passenger off, with no unfriendly recorded threats over the public address system about “NO PARKING! MOVE ALONG! MOVE ALONG! VIOLATORS WILL BE TICKETED AND TOWED!! NO PARKING!…”

As it is a new airport for most travelers, there actually is a courteous greeter who welcomes you to the terminal. No doubt he is trained in security and has a black belt in some martial art, but how pleasant! As there are only two airlines flying in and out of PAE, there is a small hall of check-in kiosks and 3 staffed baggage & ticketing counters. Simple. Easy. There are more TSA agents than travelers, so you know they can do their job thoroughly, without stress or rudeness.

Stylish Furnishing and Design

The bar in the Everett Airport lounge
The bar is open, also coffee and tea

The lounge is modern and bright, with lots of wood. There is a bar which serves coffee and tea in addition to alcohol. I was surprised to see people bellying up for beers and drinks at 10 am, but Bill says I live in a bubble.

Check out the gorgeous, solid walnut tables in the PAE airport lounge
Check out the gorgeous, solid walnut tables!

There will be a Beecher’s Handmade Cheese cafe there soon, but until then, we split a wrap with grilled chicken & veggies and sharp Beecher’s cheddar. It was a high quality sandwich. The chicken was real chunks of grilled dark meat, not cheapo, deli sliced white chicken-like substance.

The restrooms are all individual, accessible and uni/pansexual. Nobody has to make any declarations of gender status or get weirded out about someone else’s. Avoids the whole issue. And they’re minimalist and stylish, of course.

view of the lounge at PAE
It can get a little lively as arriving passengers wander through to the exit for baggage claim.

Thumbs Up in All Respects

About the only drawback to Paine Field Airport for us is that the only flights to the Los Angeles area are to LAX. It would be great if there were routes to other small airports rather than only to the biggest airports, but the economics just don’t work that way. But who knows? Maybe someday.

Also, I have not researched the ground transport situation or long term parking, so I cannot report on that.

Anyway, give Everett’s new airport a try if you are coming on Alaska Airlines to the north Puget Sound region or going from there to:

  • Portland (PDX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Orange County (SNA)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Denver (DEN) or San Francisco (SFO) on United

It’s just so much more civilized!

A woman relaxes waiting for her flight from PAE airport
A woman relaxes waiting for her flight from PAE airport