I just came back from Horizon Airâ€™s inaugural flights to Santa Rosa/Sonoma County Airport (STS), and here is a picture album and just a few words about the flights.
Here are the flights I took:
March 20, 2007
QX 2475 SEA-STS Lv0725 Arr0940
QX 2467 STS-LAX Lv1145 Arr1325
Both operated by Dash 8-Q400 N412QX
The flight itself:
Well the day began with mechanical problems with the original a/c at Portland, Oregon. The flight was supposed to originate from Portland, and then down to SEA, and then to STS. I guess due to the special inaugural nature of the flight, lateness is not permitted. So a backup Dash 8-Q400 was arranged. Well I only found out when I got a text in the morning telling the flight was run late, but then ten minutes, the flight was back to normal. The agent at the Board Room checked the information for me. They were all puzzled with my routing, and then realized it was the inaugural day.
David and Kim were great flight attendants, and they were in charge of both flights (and the return tooâ€¦ four flights in a row were pretty tough). Both flights offered unique Horizon Airâ€™s 25th anniversary branded snack â€“ Merlinoâ€™s Bakery breakfast bars, and Timâ€™s Cascade Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, along with beverages and complimentary beers and wines. NO full cans of sodas were passed out, but the F/As did a second round of beverage on both flights. I eventually got the whole can of Vernorâ€™s Ginger Ale and my white wines were refilled on the second flight. For the STS-LAX, special Sonoma Valley wines were served, instead of the usual Pacific Northwest selection.
Flight times were an hour and forty-six minutes on the SEA-STS flight, and then an hour and twelve minutes on the second flight. We cruised at 25,000feet for both flights. It was pretty clear on the flight down to STS, but a bit more overcast on the flight to LAX.
The loading from Seattle to Santa Rosa was pretty full with lots of AS/QX employees, and I guess the situation at Portland actually lighten up the load a bit. There were actually many local residents near Santa Rosa joined the flight, and my neighbor said that it would save him much time on this commute back to home. The Santa Rosa to LA flight was 100% full with lots of Sonoma County folks/event planners heading for meetings, and some NRSAs could not get in, but was told the later flight was light enough.
Nothing special is done at Seattle/Tacoma Airport, except a special Woodstock STS baggage tags were given out at check-ins and gates throughout the day for the STS bound folks. At Sonoma County Airport, there were lots of camera crew waiting for us, but nothing special really set up except a booth by local radio station providing free coffee, local newspapers, and donuts. The Sonoma County event planners gave us another bag tag later prior to boarding. I thought more would be done, but good enough to see a crowd.
Charles M. Schultz Sonoma County Airport/Santa Rosa/ STS
This airport was a very charming airport, but small and indeed one of the smallest that I have ever been to. There are two runways, but QX will use the main runway 32/14. I saw CR7 line painted at the sole parking space, so I assume CRJ-700 can make it safely down here. The terminal building are two basic structures: the main check-in terminal with check-in desks, vending machines, and toilets on one side, and car rental desks on the other side with offices in the back. Then there is another structure, which is the gate itself with security checkpoint (one of course) and one gate waiting room, which can hold 70 people, and more vending machines and thankfully bathrooms as well. The baggage claim area is just a small outdoor area, which the handlers will slide you your bags. Not even a baggage belt to talk about here. I literally saw TSA messing around with my bags, which were very disturbing when they tried to open my suitcase. Nevertheless they must find out that they literally donâ€™t need to do anything with transit bags. It is funny to see the bag handlers actually dragging my bags back in the terminal structure and onto the check-in area. The bags literally also made a quick round through the airport. The staffs were all young and obviously in basic training. Anyway, bring spare changes to buy drinks and newspapers, or simply eat well and bring your own entertainment before heading to the airport, but the staffs were mostly helpful and friendly.
Well I know most folks like DH4 better than CR7, but I am actually the minority, who prefers the slightly quieter environment of CR7 and at least a nice exit row possibility. Of course, at least the CR7 bathroom has running faucet in the bathroom (feel free to correct me if it is not the case). It is just down to your personal preference. I think two hours are definitely my maximum toleration for flying on a DH4.
After saying that, DH4 is perhaps the prefect a/c to start STS, and is a major stepup from EMB0120s and Saab 340s and even the older generation of Dash 8-200/300. I actually see more success on the LAX routes, but the SEA routes can be timed better to connect into ASâ€™s extensive east coast routes/networks, and Portland is a logical choice. However, LAS seems to be what people really want to go to, and who knows, a link to LAS may work out in the long run. The morning LAX flight seems to be perfect for Mexican connections.
Good luck to Horizon Air and enjoy this report! My next inaugural report is on Midwestâ€™s Seattle to Kansas City flight on April 1. Honestly, I donâ€™t expect much to report, but will possibly do a brief report like this one.