In November 2012, Alaska Airlines added three new west coast routes to Hawaii: Portland and Kauai; Anchorage and Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii; and Bellingham and Maui. I was pretty pleased about the Bellingham-Maui route, meaning my hubby and I could fly non-stop to the islands without having to drive south to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The flights to Hawaii are seasonal (November-April).
Bellingham International Airport (BLI) is located west of Interstate 5, just three miles north of Bellingham and 90 minutes north of Seattle. It's 30 minutes south of the Canada-US border, which explains why at least half of the 200,000 travelers a year who fly out of BLI are Canadians. The first runway was completed in 1940, and today BLI is home to Alaska Airlines and Allegiant Air. Current routes include Maui, Las Vegas, Oakland, Palm Springs, Phoenix-Mesa, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
We flew out of BLI to Maui on a Friday morning in February, and found it to be much less hectic than Sea-Tac. The check-in and TSA lines both moved quickly, and the completion of the terminal's phase one expansion project in 2011 includes four new boarding gates plus Scotty Browns for a place to sit and enjoy a meal or libation before boarding. Another big perk is parking, which is only $10/24 hours in the main terminal lot or $9/24 hours in the overflow lot. More information about the airport may be found on the Port of Bellingham website.
Alaska Airlines makes moves to fly out of Everett's Paine Field
In other airline news, Alaska Airlines announced on Feb. 7, 2013 that they're working with the FAA to add Paine Field in Everett as an authorized airport for its operations. This is a required step if Alaska Airlines begins jet service out of the regional airport in the future. The carrier provided the FAA with a proposed five-year schedule that could include 28 round-trip jet flights a week.
Those first year operations would include 14 weekly round-trip flights to Las Vegas, Honolulu and Maui using Boeing 737-800 jet aircraft. Alaska would also fly 21 weekly round-trip flights to Portland with Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft. Not all destinations would be served daily.
By the fifth year of operations, Alaska says it would fly 49 weekly round-trip flights. That includes 28 round-trips to Las Vegas, Honolulu, Maui, Los Angeles and San Diego with 737-800s, plus 21 weekly round-trips to Portland using Q400s.
Alaska Airlines says the proposed schedules could change depending on competitors, business and economic factors and customers' needs. The airline is seeking information from the FAA about any required environmental reviews of its proposed schedule (there is a pending legal challenge to the agency's approval of commercial air service at Paine Field). There has been public opposition to commercial flights out of Paine Field, including the group called Save Our Communities.