EVERETT — Just when it seemed Snohomish County could finally claim a commercial passenger airport of its own, headlines across the country began touting Paine Field as “Seattle’s second airport.”
The Federal Aviation Administration cleared the airport for take-off last week. The first flight, Alaska Airlines 2878, leaves Everett at 10 a.m. Monday.
In the minds of some, however, the county-owned airport is only a gateway to the Emerald City.
Everett, we get no respect.
CNN describes Paine Field as “an alternative mode of accessing Seattle’s clean fresh air, unparalleled coffee culture and thriving food scene. The change may be just what the city needs to retain a stronghold on its allure as a premier U.S. travel destination.”
Oh, and visitors to “the Puget Sound region north of Seattle” — wherever that is (the names Mukilteo, Stillaguamish and Tulalip jammed their spell check) can skip the dismal drive to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Not to be outdone, USA Today dubbed Paine Field “Seattle’s second airport.”
Ditto The Los Angeles Times, which breathlessly reported on Feb. 21 that Paine Field is “oh-so-close to taking off” and “poised to become Seattle’s second airport.”
By Friday, the LA Times had dropped the semblance of rank and merely referred to Paine as “Seattle’s other airport.”
Travel Market Report made no bones about it trumpeting, “Seattle is getting a new airport … Paine Field, located in the nearby city of Everett.”
Second. Second. Second.
No one refers to Boeing’s Everett assembly plant, birthplace of the 747 series, as the company’s second Seattle facility.
There’s the Renton plant and the Everett plant.
Is The Daily Herald Seattle’s other newspaper? Are the Silvertips, Seattle’s second hockey team? When the USA Today story “Seattle’s second airport” appeared on Facebook, local residents took to their keyboards and let it fly.
The comment section filled up like a cheap flight to Vegas.
“This is not ‘Seattle’s second airport!’” wrote Peggy Johnson. “Snohomish County residents are having to sacrifice a lot for this airport so please, it is Everett’s first commercial airport!”
Joe Swagerty agreed. “Stop calling it Seattle’s second airport. It isn’t. It isn’t close enough to Seattle to call it that. Give Everett and Snohomish County the credit it is due.”
Allen Toma nicely summed it up: “Don’t call it Seattle’s second airport. Call it Everett’s first.”
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are offering a combined 24 daily departures from Everett, with Alaska beginning service Monday and United starting March 31.
It’s not every day a new commercial airport opens.
In 2015, privately owned Propeller Airports and the county signed a 30-year lease agreement, forging a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership.
Since then, Propeller has invested more than $40 million in the new two-gate terminal it built and will manage.
But not everyone is up in arms over being second banana.
Amy Spain, executive director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, is pleased that Paine Field is being billed as Seattle’s second airport.
“We offer a different visitor experience than you’ll have at Sea-Tac. That sets visitors in a positive frame of mind. That’s a lovely introduction to our community,” Spain said.
Air service is expected to benefit the local tourism industry right away. Economic benefits are expected to accrue in three to five years.
The Lynnwood Convention Center would like to host your next trade meeting, which is why the center dedicated a page to commercial air service at Paine Field.
Economic Alliance Snohomish County wants you to know there are two ways to get here – Sea-Tac and Paine Field.
Ryan Crowther, who will be on the second flight from Everett, a 10:30 a.m., Alaska Airlines nonstop to Las Vegas, isn’t offended either.
“It’s easy for us to be excited that Paine Field will provide new, easy access to Snohomish County. And this is true,” said Crowther, owner of Puget PR and founder of Everett Music Initiative. “But my guess is that the rest of the West Coast sees this as a convenient way to fly into Seattle,” he said. “That’s exciting too.”
For now, County Executive Dave Somers is willing to put up with it.
“For much of the world, we are part of Seattle,” Somers said. “I don’t like it, but it’s a fact of life.”
In the future, he added “we’re going to make sure people know they’re landing and taking off from Snohomish County.”
Whatever the headline, it can’t diminish the fact that commercial air service “is the biggest thing to happen to the county since Boeing announced it was going to build the 747 plant in Everett,” Somers said.
To be sure, Paine Field is expected to alleviate the pain and suffering that goes into the 43-mile trip from Everett to Sea-Tac, along with any travelers caught in traffic that usually starts around Northgate.
Not even the Port of Seattle, which owns and operates the eighth busiest airport in North America, Sea-Tac, is calling Paine Field its second self.
Apparently, the start of passenger service in Everett has escaped the notice of the Port of Seattle, which last week passed a resolution noting the need for another airport to relieve busy Sea-Tac.
The goal is to pick six locations by January 2020 and select a finalist by January 2021.
Sea-Tac served 50 million passengers last year, and it is running out of room. And its travelers are running out of patience, long before they get to their gate.
The cellphone lots at Sea-Tac are packed and limited to 30 minutes. The Transportation Security Administration lines rival Black Friday crowds. Pulling up to the departures or arrivals curbs is like trying to merge onto I-5 at 5 p.m.
Paine Field in Everett welcomes you. Give us your traffic-weary travelers, your gridlocked mother, brother, partner (whom you’ve guilted into driving to Sea-Tac) yearning to break free.
National headlines aside, on Monday Paine Field in Everett takes off.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods