Walla Walla's early flight will be taking off even sooner starting in March.
The morning flight to Seattle will depart Walla Walla 20 minutes earlier starting March 10, said Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey.
The change will allow passengers to connect to the airline's nonstop Seattle-to-Washington, D.C., flight, a connection lost when the carrier's flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National was changed.
The flight from Walla Walla will leave at 6:25 a.m. and arrive in Seattle at 7:24 a.m. The flight to D.C. will depart Seattle at 8:10 a.m. and arrive at 4:05 p.m.
The flight now leaves at 6:45 a.m. Airline and travel officials encourage passengers to arrive an hour before departure time for check-in.
Travel agent and Port of Walla Walla Commissioner Paul Schneidmiller said the change is welcome to provide the best connections possible to passengers.
"I don't see a disadvantage other than people have to get up 20 minutes earlier," he said.
That 20 minutes may be beneficial for travelers with business on the west side of the state, Schneidmiller added. The extra time could get someone to Olympia by 9 a.m. or to a meeting in downtown Seattle by 8:30 a.m.
The change could also be a boost for efforts to build local air travel. When Alaska's flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C., changed a while back, Schneidmiller said it became more challenging to persuade local passengers to fly out of Walla Walla.
His World Wide Travel agency saw an uptick in the number of passengers booking out of Pasco to make the East Coast flight. Some who were making the trek to Pasco were booking flights on completely different airlines. "I think this change is a nice positive for Alaska, too," Schneidmiller said.
In addition to the East Coast connection, Schneidmiller said the new flight time will allow passengers to connect to a Hawaiian flight as well.
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8321.