I did a little positioning to try and get a shot from directly under an airliner as it was making its approach to SeaTac. I was out near Boeing Field so they were still reasonably high. I managed to get myself right in alignment with the jet which, in this case, was an Alaska Airliners A320. When I first saw the shot, I have to admit I thought it was an Embraer E175 but then I read the lettering under the nose and realized it was bigger than I thought. I like the idea of a very different view of a familiar subject.
SeaTac is not the easiest place to get shots of the arrivals in the afternoon if the flow is from the north. The inner runway is okay but the outer is not so easy without bugging the more experienced locals. I was heading to the airport for a meeting but, with easy traffic, I got there a little early and decided to do a quick trip around the airport. I came across a gravel parking area that gives a view of short final. The planes appear quickly and are soon below the sight lines for the runway but there is a window in which you can shoot. On this day the weather was crummy with rain constantly coming down – sometimes very heavily. This was just a recce but I did get an A220 and some other types in the few minutes I was there before heading to my meeting.
Alaska Airlines has a 737 flying in a special scheme as a Salute to Veterans. I have shot that in the past and it appeared on the blog in this post. I wasn’t aware until recently that they had painted a second jet in a similar scheme – this time from their regional fleet. This is an Embraer E175-E1. Here it is departing SeaTac one morning while I was awaiting my flight out.
An Alaska Airlines Embraer E175-E1 might not normally get a post but this one was operating a flight from Paine Field when I shot it. I saw there was some sort of graphic on the fuselage but I hadn’t worked out what it said at the time. Turns out this is the 1500th E Jet that Embraer has delivered. That is quite an achievement when you considered that Embraer was a manufacturer of niche turboprops for many years. Congratulations.
The merger of the Virgin America fleet into Alaska Airlines started off slowly at first. With Virgin taking delivery of new jets, Alaska pondered how to mark them up. The first of the A321neos came in Virgin America colors but then one arrived in a plain scheme with some outlines on it of west coast skylines under the tag line “Most West Coast”. It didn’t have obvious airline branding and I wrote about it here. It turns out that jet did not stay in those colors for long. It has now received the standard Alaska Airlines branding and I saw it operating out of SeaTac heading to Los Angeles.
My effort to shoot an arriving A350 at SeaTac provided a secondary benefit. The majority of arriving aircraft land on the outer runway. This is further away and also has a threshold further up the field. This means the aircraft are higher up on the approach. On a clear winter’s day, the planes have the backdrop of the snow covered Olympic mountain range. They were a bit far away but did provide a rather scenic view.
With Alaska Airlines taking over Virgin America, there is a lot of repainting to be done of the fleet. I have seen a few of the newer A321neos around in Alaska colors (mostly special schemes) but I hadn’t had any luck with the A320s in the traditional Alaska scheme. A visit to SFO was bound to change that given that this was the base for Virgin America. Sure enough I got to shoot a few of the jets in their new livery. I have to say, I think it looks quite good on the A320. Of course, there is something of the livery that is missing. None of the Airbus jets carries the “Proudly All Boeing” graphic. None of the Embraers do either although that might soon be something they can add before too long!
The 737 fuselage is closely tied to the previous generations of Boeing jets like the 707 and 727. It inherited the eyebrow windows above the main cockpit windows. These days, the controlled airspace has made the need for these while maneuvering a lot less. Current jets are built without them and many airlines have reduced maintenance costs by plugging them. I had assumed that they had gone away for most operators. Apparently not for Alaska! Walking through the terminal, I saw one jet with the eyebrows and was surprised. However, then I saw a bunch more so clearly this is still something Alaska see as valuable.
The merger of the Virgin America operations into Alaska Airlines means combining the Airbus fleet with the Boeings. Virgin America had ordered some A321neos and these are in the process of delivery just as things are being merged. Alaska chose to change the livery on the next one off the line and adopted a scheme designed to reflect the number of flights they now operate on the west coast. The Most West Coast jet has not been popular since it seems to lack branding of either airline. It was at the gate when I landed in LA and I saw it taxiing out later that morning. I wonder how long it will last in this form?