SEATTLE — Bagpipes roared across the ramp near gate A12 Friday evening as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) welcomed its newest airline, Aer Lingus, for the first time.
The first flight arrived nearly a half hour early from Dublin (DUB), the largest European destination without direct service from Seattle.
However, this is no longer a fact. The Irish carrier has just begun a four-times-per-week service between SEA and DUB, hoping to increase it to a daily service.
Seattle becomes the carrier’s 13th North American destination.
The Inaugural Flight
Aer Lingus Flight 143 was greeted upon landing with the traditional water cannon salute from the Port of Seattle fire department, along with a bagpipe player at gate A12.
“More than 800,000 Washingtonians claim ‘Irish’ as their primary ancestry, creating links to booming tech industries in both countries and an additional choice to travelers coming and going to Ireland,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman.
“This can be seen as a prize at both ends of the rainbow!” he added.
The Irish carrier will operate the route with an Airbus A330-200, which features 23 flatbed Business Class seats and 243 seats in Economy Class. The total capacity of the plane will be 266 passengers.
Marking Aer Lingus’ inaugural service to Seattle, Mike Rutter, Chief Operating Officer admitted to being “delighted to commence Ireland’s first and only direct service to Seattle, with four direct flights each week.”
“Seattle, as a destination, holds great promise for Aer Lingus given the strong business ties between the two regions making this an important route for business travel as well as leisure trips as exemplified by the high demand for business class tickets on the route to date,” he added.
Aer Lingus flight 143 departs from Dublin at 15:50 and arrives at 17:35 in Seattle.
The return flight to DUB leaves at 19:20, arriving the following day at 12:30.
Pre-Clearance, Alaska Partnership
The new Aer Lingus service will also be the first trans-Atlantic pre-clearance flight into SEA.
Passengers are to clear US Customs and Border Protection in Ireland before departure, allowing them to arrive as a domestic flight.
Alaska Airlines, one of Seattle’s busiest carriers, was also on hand for the launch as Aer Lingus is its newest mileage partner.
“This new partnership with Aer Lingus is another example of how Alaska is giving our Mileage Plan members more and more ways to travel and earn miles to all corners of the map through our diverse global partners,” said Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer.
“Aer Lingus provides our members more reach for travel within Europe, with seamless service through Dublin to 24 cities in the U.K. and Europe,” he added.
Dublin is the capital and largest city in Ireland. It is a new hub for US companies doing business in Europe. The city hosts the annual Dublin Tech Summit each spring which is attended by influential global companies and innovators.
“We’re pleased to join with Alaska Airlines. It’s a meeting of like-minded, service-oriented carriers bringing attractive propositions to their respective travelers,” said Greg Kaldahl, Aer Lingus’ chief strategy, planning officer.
“Our Aer Lingus guests will now be able to connect onwards to a wide range of destinations up and down the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii; while loyal Alaska flyers will gain the opportunity to fly transatlantic on Ireland’s only 4-star airline. We are looking forward to a long and successful partnership,” he said.
SeaTac is one of the nation’s fastest-growing large hub airports, and four new international carriers joined the airport in 2017.
Aer Lingus will be the third new international carrier to begin operations at SeaTac in 2018.
Rumors have it that Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific may be announcing new service to Seattle as well later this year.