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Alaska Airlines launches nonstop service from Charleston to Seattle

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By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 17, 2015

Travelers can now fly nonstop between Charleston and Seattle four days a week.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines launched its nonstop, transcontinental flight between Charleston International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Monday. The 84-year-old airline announced the flight in April.

Alaska Airlines Sales Director Jeff Etherington said Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner operations in North Charleston, as well as overall business growth in the Charleston area, drove the airline to offer nonstop service to Charleston. Boeing employees travel often between the Puget Sound area and the Lowcountry.

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Matt Berden, a design engineer for Boeing’s 787 program in South Carolina, said he typically flies to Seattle up to 10 times a year for meetings. He said having to connect in other cities kept him away from his family longer.

“This is a huge thing for me and my team. It makes our lives so much easier since we all go back and forth so often,” Berden said while he waited to board Monday evening’s flight to Seattle at the newly renovated B2 gate at the Charleston airport.

Janet Smyth, a Charleston resident, said the nonstop flight makes it much easier to see her daughter who lives in Seattle. Similarly, Evelyn Dolven of Charleston was flying out to see her son.

The flight is also expected to bring more tourists from the Pacific Northwest, which will boost Charleston’s tourism economy, according to Dan Blumenstock, the board chairman for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. David and Rhonda Cotton of Tacoma, Wash., arrived in Charleston on Monday for a trip they had planned to take for three years.

“We have been wanting to do this for so long because we are big history buffs. When we heard about the inaugural nonstop flight, we decided to finally come visit,” David Cotton said.

The airline’s first nonstop flight between the cities arrived in Charleston on Monday around 4:25 p.m. As passengers deplaned, airport and airline staff cheered and handed them goody bags, and the next flight boarded soon after.

Alaska Airlines will fly from Charleston to Seattle — departing at 5:55 p.m. and arriving at 9:10 p.m. — every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The airline will fly from Seattle to Charleston on the same says, departing at 8:25 a.m. and arriving at 4:54 p.m. Passengers will fly on a Boeing 737-900ER, which has 16 first-class seats and 161 coach seats.

This is the Charleston airport’s first nonstop connection to the West Coast. Sen. Paul Campbell, CEO and executive director for the Charleston County Aviation Authority, said he is hoping to expand more nonstop options from Charleston International Airport and he expects to have 3.4 million travelers come through the airport in 2015. Charleston International saw a record 3.13 million passengers in 2014.

Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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