Alaska Airlines Delays Paine Field Flights Due To Government Shutdown

Filed Under: Alaska

It looks like the government shutdown is now impacting the opening date of an airport.

Paine Field’s planned opening date

We’re supposed to be just weeks away from commercial flights launching from Paine Field-Snohomish County Airport.

Rendering of new Paine Field Terminal

Paine Field is home to Boeing’s Everett Factory, and up until now hasn’t been used for commercial flights. However, airlines started to see the potential for the airport, given how many residents there are North of Seattle (more than a million people live in the North Sound). Offering service out of this airport could save many people over an hour on their airport commute. Furthermore, SeaTac Airport is nearing capacity.

The airport has seen significant delays in opening, especially due to the FAA requiring a new environmental impact assessment for the airport. Until recently it looked like they had made good progress on that, and the airport was close to opening.

Alaska Airlines was supposed to launch flights from the airport as of February 11, 2019, while United Airlines was supposed to launch flights as of March 31, 2019. Those are the only two airlines that will offer flights there for now.

Unfortunately this timeline has now been pushed back.

Alaska Airlines is delaying Paine Field flights

Alaska Airlines has announced that they’re pushing back their Paine Field launch from February 11 to March 4, 2019. As they describe the situation:

Several key groups within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which conduct crucial certification and oversight work required for the start of commercial air service at Paine Field, are subject to furloughs because of the government shutdown. The FAA’s work on the environmental assessment continues. However, essential work groups within the FAA are furloughed and further delays are expected if the shutdown continues.

For those booked out of Paine Field between February 11 and March 4, Alaska is offering three options:

  • A full refund
  • Being rebooked on a flight out of Paine Field on March 4 or later
  • Being rebooked on a similar flight out of SeaTac

I appreciate Alaska’s transparency here with how they’re doing this. They admit that even the March 4 date isn’t a sure bet, and for that matter it could be that the airport is operational before then. However, they decided that this was just the best option for now. As they explain it:

It’s still not clear when the government shutdown will end. Why was March 4 selected as the new start of service date?

It’s a judgment call on our part because we don’t know when the government shutdown will end. We selected a new date for start of service that could allow time for a resolution, but not too far out in case the shutdown suddenly ended. We’re hopeful our operations at Paine Field will get up and running soon and we can get our guests going places.

Bottom line

So many people have been excited about Paine Field’s new commercial flights, though it looks like we’ll have to wait even longer for that, which is unfortunate. It also puts Alaska in a tough situation, since they had already started selling seats. Delaying flights by a few weeks seems like a smart move — hopefully they don’t have to push it back further.

If you were impacted by the delayed opening, which of the rebooking options did you choose?

  1. Who knows, hopefully Trump can be thrown in jail by then, or maybe the current Republicans in congress can grow a pair.

  2. Good, let it spread. Force it to the table. Tired of this and the posturing. It’s like two kids fighting at the Centurion Lounge. Just take the food away.

  3. I had booked the 2/12 flight from LAX to Paine Field, with the same day return from SEA…essentially for the sole purpose of flying into Paine Field during its first few days operation (and the first flight from LAX)….Well, that is no more now…. Although Alaska did agree to refund both segments without problems.

  4. This whole business of shutdown is another example of bureaucratic red tape. It’s already been voted that federal employees will get paid. So get to work. OK, they can temporarily hold buying big items, like an aircraft carrier or a bridge, but workers who do paperwork should be required to work. Just sign off on the thing.

    As far as politics, I used to think that Trump was 60% at fault and Pelosi 40% but currently Pelosi is 90% at fault since she won’t make a counter offer to Trump’s offer. Just make an offer. Then it would be Trump’s fault if he didn’t counter offer.

  5. Alaska moved me to SEA-LAX flights instead of my PAE-LAX, but unfortunately because my flights changed I’m now at the back of the upgrade list.

    PAE-LAX was 1/4 the price of SEA-LAX, but SEA is usually a much easier airport to get to, so I’m fine with it. I was looking forward to checking out the new terminal though.

  6. We have mileage run flights booked for later in March out of PAE. At the moment it is impossible to determine if there will be local facilities at PAE such as stay and fly options at local hotels (this is you Hilton Garden Inn) or parking at the airport. This delay will possibly affect our departure plans. Is Alaska allowing flight changes post March 4 for time sensitive flights or will they only allow them later?

  7. We don’t need TSA agents at this airport because all our borders are open with nice friendly people who are only interested in peace. No terrorist or need for protection anymore.

  8. I was booked on the inaugural flight to PAE. AS called me last night and gave me the options @Lucky described. Unfortunately, I have a commitment on March 4th and can’t fly that day. So, I asked for a full refund. My positioning flights were in a different record. And, while I was chastised and told this was one time only and next time put them in the same record, they fully refunded my positioning flights as well.

    I was really impressed with how easy they made this and reminded of why I was a loyal AS flyer for so long before moving to an AA hub. While their planes are meh (unless it’s VA metal), they really shine exactly when AA stinks — in irrops.

    Now that I’m back on the west coast and away from the AA hub purgatory, I’m contemplating joining @Lucky as a free agent. I have enjoyed my AA system-wide upgrades and the amenities of the OW lounges. But, really, I mostly fly domestically. And there are so many places I go where DL and AS are non-stop and AA isn’t. Plus, I’m buying F more and more to avoid worrying about upgrades. So, we’ll see how the year evolves. Maybe it’s time to get back to working on my lifetime MVP Gold… I’m 3/4 of the way there!

  9. Now that the gov’t has been open for a few days, have you heard of any progress. Is the March 4th date going to be met?

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