Whidbey Island residents wanting to take a van or bus to Paine Field Airport to catch a commercial flight out of the new passenger terminal will have to wait awhile longer.
Bus and shuttle services aren’t available from the Mukilteo ferry terminal to the Everett airport, but it is expected to begin later this month.
Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle is waiting for approval from Paine Field before beginning any van service to the passenger terminal that opened Monday, the company said.
“We are still working with Paine Field for access and we will not be able to publish our schedule/fares or commence service until we have operational authority to do so,” the company recently posted on its website after receiving many inquiries.
Community Transit will begin offering bus service on March 24 on its Swift Green Line, said Martin Munguia, corporate communications manager.
“There are two ways to get from the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal to Paine Field Airport by bus starting March 24,” he said. “There is no direct route, so each of these trips involves two bus transfers.”
But even when bus service does begin, it has limited hours of service. The Swift Green Line operates every 10 minutes between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle offers van service to SeaTac International Airport for between $43-$49, including ferry fare, depending on where a passenger boards between NAS Whidbey and the Clinton ferry dock; discounts are offered for military, seniors and youth.
The company also offers personalized van service to Bellingham International Airport and to downtown Seattle cruise boat terminals.
Monday, Paine Field Airport got the first test of its new passenger terminal as it opened with celebratory speeches, a statute unveiling and the inaugural take-off of an Alaska Airlines flight full of dignitaries bound for Portland.
The new 30,000-square-foot terminal is a public/private partnership between the for-profit company, Propeller Airports, and Snohomish County.
The county has overseen the air field for decades and it’s become a hub of aviation companies and activity. It’s been a busy working air field for small, private planes and for humongous Boeing jets. Propeller Airports invested more $40 million to build the terminal, which it will operate.
People eager to check out the spacious terminal designed with floor-to-ceiling windows and filled with art and comfortable, plush furniture, gave it rave reviews.
Check-in desks are made of Italian marble. Fossils are embedded in the limestone wall of the lobby, flames sparkle from fireplaces and every seat is equipped with charging ports and electrical outlets. Food and drink options include Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Restaurant, Caffe Vita coffee stand and Upper Case wine bar.
The striking steel and glass terminal is designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects.
“It’s like a VIP lounge,” said Qiu Zhongwu, a senior technician for Republic Airways who flew in from the East Coast Sunday to SeaTac so he could check out Paine Field terminal and catch a round-trip flight to Las Vegas on Monday.
“I travel often. I’ve never seen one so clean,” he said of the terminal that resembles a lobby of a five-star hotel.
The parking rates range from $20 to $40 a day; valet service is offered.
Two gates serve the small passenger jets of two commercial airlines. Alaska Airlines is phasing in 18 daily nonstop flights to eight destinations around the West. United Airlines is slated to begin nonstop flights on March 31 to San Francisco and Denver.
Once passengers step into the terminal, they are steps away from their gate.
“Our goal is to get you from curb to gate in as little as 15 minutes,” Propeller Airports states on its website, where it also advises passengers to arrive two hours before their scheduled flight. It aims to whisk people through security in minutes.
Having a second option for airline travel is expected to save time and money for regional residents. Paine Field Airport could eventually serve more than 1.4 million travelers a year, according to a statement from Snohomish County.
“The terminal’s ease of use and location just 10 minutes from I-5 will make it the ideal choice for passengers looking for a world-class travel experience paired with the attention to detail only a smaller airport can provide,” Brett Smith, CEO Propeller Airports, said in a press release.
The air field is named after Lt. Topliff Olin Paine, an Army Air Corps pilot. Two of the late pilot’s grandnephews, Nicholas Moe and Tom Paine were on hand Monday to unveil a statute of their great uncle.
The air field was built in 1936 as a federal Works Progress Administration project to help the region recover from the Depression. It was named after Paine in 1941.
“But there was always something missing,” noted Moe, “commercial flights.”