Paine Field, 30 miles north of downtown Seattle, is known by aviation enthusiasts as the site of Boeing’s B747 assembly plant, where for decades the iconic jumbo jets rumbled down the tarmac on their delivery flights to airlines representing every corner of the world. Otherwise, Paine Field was just another sleepy little civilian airport, known to few and relevant to fewer.
The airport has three runways, two of which are suitable for commercial jet flights. But several neighboring cities and at least one citizens group have until recently blocked efforts to open up the facility to commercial service. That resistance began crumbling in 2012, however, following an FAA study that found that commercial flights would not significantly impact local traffic and noise.
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Ground was broken in June 2017 for a new passenger terminal featuring two gates and capable of handling around 16 flights per day.
When the airport begins commercial service in September 2018, it will immediately be at full capacity, with Alaska Airlines operating 13 flights a day to mostly west coast destinations (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose) and United flying six times a day to its Denver and San Francisco hubs.
Fans of smaller airports (I’m one!) can now begin seriously considering flying into Paine Field on future trips to Seattle.
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.