Paine Field: Setting a High Bar on the Airport Experience

by Allen Cox

If you could dream up your ultimate airport experience and make it so, what would it be?

That’s precisely what Brett Smith asked more than five years ago when he developed the concept for Paine Field Airport in Everett, Washington. Smith, who has a background as an aviation analyst in the financial sector, is the CEO of Propellor Airports, the company that entered into a public-private partnership with Snohomish County to build and operate the Paine Field Airport. 

Today, five years after the groundbreaking, Smith says: “Five years ago, this was asphalt, and today it’s a thriving passenger terminal, with a best-in-class experience for our customers.”

A public-private partnership such as Paine Field is a unique model in the United States that Smith has been working hard to develop. When Snohomish County, Washington, approached him to build a passenger terminal in Everett, it was the perfect opportunity to prove this model could work.

“This is truly a partnership between the County government, airlines—including our hometown carrier Alaska—and the people of Snohomish County,” Smith says. “We are so proud to be a part of this community and look forward to continuing to help the region grow and diversify the economy.”

According to Smith, airport public-private partnerships in the U.S. haven’t taken off yet as they have in Europe. The Paine Field project proves that private sector partnerships can ease taxpayer burden and deliver better airports. Of course, the concept may not be feasible for traffic-dense international hubs like Seattle, Denver or Atlanta, but for regional airports, it can work, as Paine Field demonstrates.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers praises the partnership with Propellor Aviation: “The public-private partnership we entered into with Propeller to develop the terminal at Paine Field and the ensuing success are a source of pride for the county, and a model that should be replicated nationally.”

Any passenger who flies in and out of Paine field would agree with that statement. Paine Field is able to deliver an airport experience unlike any in the country. Imagine arriving at the airport within minutes of boarding with no long TSA lines. Imagine a passenger-terminal setting, similar to an airline VIP lounge, that’s open to all passengers, complete with cushy furniture and plenty of room to spread out. Imagine relaxing next to a cozy fireplace while sipping a glass of premium Northwest wine, munching on a charcuterie board crafted by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and flipping through the latest issue of Northwest Travel & Life. You just might want to arrive at the airport hours early simply for the stress-free experience.

Airports don’t get any better than that.

Flight Destinations

Alaska Airlines flights to:

  • Anchorage
  • Las Vegas
  • Orange County
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Tucson (seasonal)
  • Palm Springs (seasonal)