Garden Island Flight

Alaska Airlines’ new service from Seattle makes it easier than e

By: Marty Wentzel

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Kauai got a lift on Oct. 28 when Alaska Airlines launched nonstop service between Seattle, Wash., and Lihue Airport on Kauai, making it the only carrier to fly that route.

I joined the inaugural festivities, which began at Sea-Tac Airport with hula dancers and a spread of tropical snacks and beverages. As we deplaned six hours later, Kauai Visitors Bureau representatives greeted us with orchid leis, live Hawaiian music and plenty of aloha spirit.

Attending travel industry officials shared their feedback with me after the trip. Brent Mayes, president of All About Hawaii in Tigard, Ore., said his company is seeing strong interest in the direct Seattle-Kauai service. “Demand for these flights is coming not just from Seattle and Portland but eastern Washington, northern Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alberta,” said Mayes. “The biggest challenge is finding seats for everyone.”

“Having the ability to fly nonstop will bring additional demand for Kauai,” said Apple Vacations’ vice president and general manager Mark Noennig. “The onboard service was positive, which is helpful on a long flight like this.” Jeannie McGinnis, director of Washington marketing for Doug Fox Travel and Cruise, praised the carrier’s comfortable seating, among other things.

“My only concern is that there weren’t enough digEplayers. If you pre-booked one you were fine, but if you wanted to buy one onboard, they ran out,” she said.

McGinnis noted that most of her agency’s Hawaii-bound clients still request Maui, but she feels optimistic about Kauai’s prospects.

“I surveyed our agents and Kauai is generally requested by second-time visitors to the islands, while first-timers want Maui and Oahu,” she said. “I think the Alaska flights will do well as long as our agents educate the public on the benefits of staying on Kauai. The island has so much to offer without the commercialization and crowds.”

The return trip to Seattle is a red-eye, which Alaska Airlines national tour accounts manager Brenda Spivey called an advantage.

“The schedule gives clients an extra full day on Kauai, since the flight home doesn’t leave until 9:15 p.m.,” said Spivey. “That’s all the more time to enjoy the Garden Island.”


Alaska Airlines

New nonstop service between Seattle and Lihue, Kauai, departs at 4:20 p.m. and arrives at 7:45 p.m. Return trips leave Lihue at 9:15 p.m. and land in Seattle at 5:55 a.m. Alaska flies Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the route.