What #avgeek can resist a party? Especially one as momentous as this week’s celebration for Paine Field (PAE). PAE is located north of Seattle and is the newest airport to enter the nation’s commercial aviation system. It will also be a welcome alternative for travelers who might otherwise have to battle traffic for an hour and a half to get to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

But before there can be flights, there has to be a party. Aviatrix Communications owner Katie Franco snagged an invite to the airport’s “gate-warming” reception, and got to explore the new terminal. The good news is, Alaska Airlines and airport manager Propeller Airports threw one heckuva party. The bad news is, you might not ever want to travel through a different airport again.

The Party

The open house was held during the holiest of hours–Sunday brunch–and successfully captured the festive atmosphere that mimosas, small bites, and live jazz provide. They poured LaMarcca prosecco and served Beecher’s cheese–products Alaska offers customers on flights, but dolled up for the party.

 

band

 

Elected officials, airline representatives, and airport executives gave remarks in the baggage claim, and took advantage of the large, clean space to show a video on a wall above the stage. The formal part of the program ended with an unveiling of a statue of Topliff “Top” Paine, the terminal’s namesake.

 

speaking

 

The Terminal

Then it was all about exploring the terminal. Paine Field is a truly beautiful new facility, with high ceilings and walls of windows that offer unrestricted views of the mountains. The ticketing lobby feels like a modern take on a classic train station.  Post-security, a central lounge area with a bar (and fireplaces!) is flanked by the two gates.

 

terminal entrance airport lobby

 

The bathrooms feel like you’re in a nightclub and the furniture is definitely too nice to last. In particular, there are extremely low chairs in a light leatherette that are a dangerous combination of child’s canvas and old person’s nightmare. In all, the new terminal feels a lot more like a hotel than an airport, and a far cry from that “public agency chic” we’re all so used to.

 

bathroom low chairs

 

Words like “boutique” aren’t often used when talking about airports, but there’s no other way to describe Paine Field. It’s small, sophisticated, and definitely worth flying through the next time you head to Seattle.