New flights make Seattle 'Delta's newest hub' - airline exec

Delta Air Lines' launch of new nonstop service from Seattle to Hong Kong (HKG) June 16 marked the addition of Delta's fifth nonstop international route from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in a year and marked a watershed moment in the carrier's aggressive expansion in the Seattle market.

Delta Seattle VP Mike Medeiros
"With the addition of Hong Kong [as well as the addition of] the 95 flights that we'll have by the end of this year, Seattle is now Delta's newest hub,"  Mike Medeiros, Delta's (NYSE:DAL) vice president – Seattle, told dignitaries, passengers and members of the media who attended a pre-take-off ceremony at Sea-Tac's gate S-19.

"Hong Kong not only represents the newest destination for the [Seattle] market, it also represents yet another destination on the Delta network from Seattle that we exclusively serve," he said, noting that Delta is also the only carrier to offer non-stop flights from SEA to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CGD), Amsterdam (AMS), Tokyo-Handea (HND) and Shanghai-Pudong (PVG)..

Airport officials said other airlines had considered offering service to Hong Kong but decided against it.

Ribbon Cutting inaugurates new Hong Kong service
"We had many conversations with Cathay Pacific over the years," Mark Reis, Sea-Tac Airport managing director, told TheTravelPro. However, the carrier already operates three non-stop flights from Vancouver, B.C. (YVR) to HKG and was concerned that adding service from Seattle might have negatively affected its operations in that market. In addition, the airport had discussions with another carrier that had authority to connect through Hong Kong, but Delta ultimately won out. 

Delta's SEA-HKG Flight 281 departs SEA at 2:24 p.m. and arrives at HKG at 7:35 p.m. the following day, owing to the crossing of the international date line. Returning Flight 282 leaves HKG at 3:04 p.m., arriving in Seattle at 10:10 p.m. the same day.

Passengers will ride a 234-seat Airbus A330-200 with 34 full-flat bed seats, all with direct aisle access in BusinessElite. Delta is the only carrier to offer full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access in BusinessElite on every long-haul international flight from Seattle along with Economy Comfort seating and entertainment on demand in every seat throughout the aircraft, according to an April 22 news release issued by the airline.

The aircraft also has 32 seats in Economy Comfort seats with a pitch of 35 inches and 168 Economy class seats with pitch of 31-32 inches, according to Business class seats are 21 inches wide, while both EconomyComfort and Economy are 18 inches wide.

Flight 281 takes off into cloudy Seattle skies
The aircraft features AVOD (Audio and Video OnDemand) in all seating classes, offering access to more than 4,100 MP3s and radio stations.

The recently added flights are the latest in an aggressive expansion of service from Seattle. Other destinations added recently are London-Heathrow (LHR), PVG, HND, and Seoul - Incheon (INC). The addition of HKG service brings to 10 the number of daily international non-stop departures offered by Delta from SEA, including four daily flights to Vancouver, B.C. (YVR). Other long-haul destinations in addition to those previously mentioned include Tokyo-Narita (NRT), and Beijing-Capital (PEK).

As previously reported on TheTravelPro, the airline in late May announced expansion of service from SEA to several popular ski and beach destinations starting in the fall. Those include destinations in the western U.S. and Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii.

The airline’s expansion plans for the Seattle market includes new or expanded service to San Francisco (SFO); Fairbanks, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska (JNU); San Jose, Calif. (SJC); San Diego (SDO); Vancouver, British Columbia (YVR); Portland, Ore. (PDX); Phoenix (PHX); Palm Springs, Calif. (PSP); Tucson, Ariz. (TUS); and Jackson Hole, Wyo. (JAC); as well as expanded service to Anchorage (ANC); Las Vegas (LAS) and Los Angeles (LAX).

In addition to the recently added service to the U.K. and Asia, Delta also operates nonstop flights from SEA to Amsterdam (AMS), Beijing-Capital (PEK), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Tokyo-Narita (NRT). By this summer, Delta says it will offer more international service from Seattle than all other carriers combined as part of the Seattle market's 86 peak-day departures to 26 destinations.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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