Before winning a lucrative Essential Air Service contract, Boutique Air promised a different experience than the now-defunct SeaPort Airlines.
Besides better planes and customer service, Boutique is set to offer another service SeaPort had long abandoned — security checkpoint-free experience at Portland International Airport.
Representatives from Boutique and the Port of Portland both confirmed that Boutique customers would be able to bypass Transportation Security Administration screenings when going to and from Portland.
Pendleton’s Eastern Oregon Regional Airport did away with TSA screenings several years ago, and although SeaPort flights to and from Portland initially enjoyed this privilege, TSA checkpoints were added in 2012 when SeaPort started using the main terminal, adding another 45 minutes to an hour to some passengers trips.
What will make a TSA-free experience possible is Boutique’s partnership with Atlantic Aviation, a fixed-base operator with a hangar on the Portland International Airport grounds but outside the main terminal.
Michelle McNulty, Boutique marketing and community manager, explained how the set-up will work in an email.
“We will be providing shuttle service from the FBO [Atlantic Aviation] to the main PDX terminal (and vise versa),” she wrote. “This shuttle will be run by Boutique Air. The passengers that are traveling into PDX via Boutique Air will be able to request the shuttle once they land (from a customer service) agent and will be driven to the main PDX terminal.
“For the passengers at the PDX main terminal, they can call the designated number (provided on our website under the airport information for the Portland International Airport) to have the shuttle come pick them up.”
With only a half-mile separating them, Port of Portland spokeswoman Kama Simonds said there’s a walking path between the Atlantic Aviation hangar and the main terminal for those who choose not to use the shuttle.
Simonds said Atlantic Aviation also has a rental car service on-site.
Boutique’s Dec. 19 service start date is welcome news for Pendleton’s business community, which had to endure several months of no commercial flight service from Pendleton.
Pendleton Chamber of Commerce executive director Gail Nelson said air service is especially utilized by government agencies like the InterMountain Education Service District, which often need to attend conferences and meetings in Salem.
During the gap in coverage, Nelson said the chamber solicited interest to charter a flight between Pendleton and Portland, but the idea never gained enough traction.