What it’s like to fly out of Paine Field

Paine Field airport has been around for ages, as a military airport, and then a test airport for Boeing. Only recently has it opened as a regular airport for commercial airlines. At the moment, it’s served by only Alaska Airlines and United Airlines

Parking

Parking at the Everett Airport is like parking at most small airports – which is glorious! It’s so easy. You drive to the airport, follow the directions for long term parking, park your car and WALK to the airport. The prices aren’t LOW, but compared to major airports where you have to park offsite, wait for the bus, get all your stuff ON the bus, drive 10 minutes, get all your stuff OFF the bus, then repeat on the way home, etc., we think parking right at the airport is great.

And if you don’t want to walk at all, you can even get valet!

Entering the Airport

When we first walked into Paine Field, the first thing that I noticed is that it’s NICE. The airport is newly remodeled and it shows. Obviously it doesn’t really matter if the airport decor is up to date, so it’s not really on our list of considerations when choosing an airport. BUT, it is a nice airport and we enjoyed that.

Check-in

Another little thing we noticed is that the employees at the Paine Field Airport were extra friendly and really helpful. We noticed that they took extra time to help out everyone checking in and did it with just a touch of extra kindness. This may be, in part, because the airport isn’t extraordinarily busy, so they HAD the time, but it was appreciated.

Security

Just like most small airports, going through security at the Everett Airport is super easy and quick. We spent only about 5 minutes in line.

The Terminal

Once you get through security and into the main portion of the airport, there are definite differences from larger airports. Again, the decor is updated, and kinda fancy. The area is quite small, with only 2 gates. Because there are no main hallways or truly open spaces, it can feel a bit crowded.

The space is pretty well laid out, with lots of tables, and seating areas perfect for groups to sit and chat (i.e. not just rows of uncomfortable airport seating). The whole vibe of the airport was very relaxed. Most people were at ease and more charmed by my (often noisy) young kids than people typically are at the airport.

Right in the middle of the airport, there are a couple of glass cases filled with model planes, and historical airport items. My kids LOVED this, and spent quite a bit of time looking at all the items, and talking through everything that they saw.

Comparing Paine Field to SeaTac

These airports are honestly night and day, so it’s a little bit tough to compare.

Paine Field doesn’t have a TON of amenities. There is a nice little bar, with cocktails, wine, and a few snacks and entrees. On the other end of the airport, you’ll find a little place to get coffee and pastries, as well as a few grab-and-go things (bottled drinks, granola bars, etc.), and a restaurant with sandwiches. You will not find the typical airport convenience type stores, with tons of packaged foods or electronics or toiletries that you may have forgotten. And DEFINITELY none of the retailers for clothing, gifts, etc.

Getting There

Ease of getting to the airport definitely varies based on your origin. My family is coming from north of Seattle, so getting to SeaTac is really far, and typically means a lot of terrible traffic, and sometimes some pretty big delays. We typically always drive because traveling with little kids is tough, and being in our own car gives us more control. Plus, when you have 4 people, the cost of parking is often lower than the cost of a shuttle.

For us, getting to Everett is a breeze. We can typically make it to the airport without encountering any substantial traffic, and it easily cuts an hour off of our drive.

For travelers from Seattle, this may not be the case. When getting to SeaTac, you have the option to take the light rail, Sound Transit Bus, or a taxi or Uber/Lyft, or, of course, drive yourself. For the Everett airport, options are a BIT more limited; you can use the Swift bus system, taxi, Uber/Lyft, or drive yourself.

So ease of getting to the airport is 100% dependent on your starting point. For us, the Everett airport is a clear winner.

Parking

Comparing parking at SeaTac vs Paine Field is just night and day. Parking at the SeaTac airport itself is very expensive, but there are tons of offsite parking options, which involve a shuttle from the parking area to the airport. So for families with young kids, that means unloading all your luggage from the car, loading it onto the bus. Then unloading it again and walking into the airport. You get used to it, but it’s definitely a process.

Read our tips for how to minimize your luggage even if you are traveling with young kids.

At Paine Field, you can opt to park closer in the premium parking, or farther away for economy. The difference is only how far you walk to the airport. Neither walk is long, and you won’t need to transfer luggage.

For my family, parking at Paine Field is MUCH easier.

Experience:

Flying out of Paine Field is just SO much more pleasant than flying out of SeaTac. It’s quick, easy, and even RELAXING. You don’t feel like you are being shuffled around from place to place like cattle. With the kids, the space is small and it doesn’t feel like your kids could easily get lost in the crowd and just be gone forever. So I felt like I could let my kids explore the teeniest bit beyond arm’s reach.

Flights and Pricing

The main downside to flying out of Everett is that there are currently only 11 destinations and two airlines (Alaska and United). They do seem to be building their schedule, but at the moment, don’t offer a huge variety of flights.

Departures board at Paine Field

However, you can fly direct to lots of destinations in California, Portland, Phoenix, and Denver. And for the destinations available, the prices are great! We saved about 30% on a recent flight to LA, when compared the price from SeaTac. Lots of flights are under $200 roundtrip.

Final Word?

For our family, coming from north of Seattle, flying out of Paine Field in Everett is fantastic! We definitely prefer Paine Field over SeaTac, and will chose it whenever we can. If flying to one of their direct destinations, we’ll pick Everett (probably) every time.

However, because they do have limited direct destinations, it still makes sense for us to choose SeaTac for most of our flights.

Still, we are super happy to have another airport in the area, and love flying out of Everett whenever we get the opportunity!

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