Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
diy60
Posts: 311
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:54 pm

Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by diy60 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:11 am

Spouse and I will be spending 3 nights on San Juan island, WA in late September. We'll have a car, I have a question about the return ferry. Our planned return flight home departs SeaTac 1:30pm. Ferry schedules are not posted that far out, but using near term schedules looks like there is a 6:25am departing Friday Harbor, arrives 8:40am Anacortes, or a ferry leaving 8am arriving 9:05am. Looks like I should plan around 2 hrs to get to SeaTac. This would give me a comfortable buffer to catch a 1:30pm flight. Q: Anyone make this trip before and could there be unforeseen issues with delayed or cancelled ferry departures, fog, high wind, etc.? I'm assuming I should purchase ferry tickets in advance due to having a vehicle.

evestor
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:37 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by evestor » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:14 am

diy60 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:11 am
Spouse and I will be spending 3 nights on San Juan island, WA in late September. We'll have a car, I have a question about the return ferry. Our planned return flight home departs SeaTac 1:30pm. Ferry schedules are not posted that far out, but using near term schedules looks like there is a 6:25am departing Friday Harbor, arrives 8:40am Anacortes, or a ferry leaving 8am arriving 9:05am. Looks like I should plan around 2 hrs to get to SeaTac. This would give me a comfortable buffer to catch a 1:30pm flight. Q: Anyone make this trip before and could there be unforeseen issues with delayed or cancelled ferry departures, fog, high wind, etc.? I'm assuming I should purchase ferry tickets in advance due to having a vehicle.
Yes you should assume these things are possible. Weather & ferry issues (ex: mechanical issues) are both totally possible and do happen more often than we care to admit. It's not an every week thing, but it's not a once per decade thing either.
I would have a backup plan in the event the ferry does not pan out.

letsgobobby
Posts: 12080
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:21 am

Deleted
Last edited by letsgobobby on Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

evestor
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:37 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by evestor » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:24 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:21 am
diy60 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:11 am
Spouse and I will be spending 3 nights on San Juan island, WA in late September. We'll have a car, I have a question about the return ferry. Our planned return flight home departs SeaTac 1:30pm. Ferry schedules are not posted that far out, but using near term schedules looks like there is a 6:25am departing Friday Harbor, arrives 8:40am Anacortes, or a ferry leaving 8am arriving 9:05am. Looks like I should plan around 2 hrs to get to SeaTac. This would give me a comfortable buffer to catch a 1:30pm flight. Q: Anyone make this trip before and could there be unforeseen issues with delayed or cancelled ferry departures, fog, high wind, etc.? I'm assuming I should purchase ferry tickets in advance due to having a vehicle.
AS and UA are starting flights out of PAE (Paine field in Everett) in the next ten days. If at all possible I’d fly out of PAE rather than SEA. That is going to be far superior to trying to get through Seattle traffic, and it’s much closer. The ferry issues can still be a problem but at least traffic will be far more predictable.
Good point. The counter point here being that because PAE is so new, the # of flights is very limited...if there are flight issues I would be concerned about how rescheduling works. We just don't know how this works in a pinch quite yet.
But I agree, avoiding traveling past downtown Seattle / Bellevue is good. In particular pre-11am.

Topic Author
diy60
Posts: 311
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:54 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by diy60 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:34 am

evestor wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:24 am
letsgobobby wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:21 am
AS and UA are starting flights out of PAE (Paine field in Everett) in the next ten days. If at all possible I’d fly out of PAE rather than SEA. That is going to be far superior to trying to get through Seattle traffic, and it’s much closer. The ferry issues can still be a problem but at least traffic will be far more predictable.
Good point. The counter point here being that because PAE is so new, the # of flights is very limited...if there are flight issues I would be concerned about how rescheduling works. We just don't know how this works in a pinch quite yet.
But I agree, avoiding traveling past downtown Seattle / Bellevue is good. In particular pre-11am.
I had looked into PEA, UA has a flight that would work and the road trip was at least an 1 hour shorter. But I had some concerns about lack of abundant flights in the event of cancellations or reschedule, and what appeared to be a lack of rental car options. I once flew on a cross country nonstop to Burbank, only to have the airline go bankrupt before my return flight, so I've experienced the impacts of minimal flights to small/new service airports.

barnaclebob
Posts: 3964
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by barnaclebob » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:41 am

What day of the week are we talking? Monday morning, the first real rain after summer and you could be looking at least 3 hours to get from anacortes to seatac at the tail end of morning rush hour. Ive also never taken more than an hour to get from dropoff to gate at seatac even in peak christmas travel times.

If a flight out of PAE is cancelled they would try to get you on a flight out of seatac if thats what you prefer.

Topic Author
diy60
Posts: 311
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:54 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by diy60 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:45 am

barnaclebob wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:41 am
What day of the week are we talking?
Returning Saturday morning, late Sept or early Oct.

dknightd
Posts: 1869
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:57 am

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by dknightd » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:57 am

Life is a crap shoot. This why we have a slush fund. I'd allow 1 full day to get from Friday Harbor to SeaTac. Stay over night in Seattle if needed.

drk
Posts: 1427
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:33 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by drk » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:59 am

diy60 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:45 am
barnaclebob wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:41 am
What day of the week are we talking?
Returning Saturday morning, late Sept or early Oct.
Check out the schedules for UW football and the Mariners. If they’re playing that day, plan for more traffic on I-5.

LAguy818
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:57 am

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by LAguy818 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:02 pm

diy60 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:45 am
barnaclebob wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:41 am
What day of the week are we talking?
Returning Saturday morning, late Sept or early Oct.
In that case, I would also jump on the PAE bandwagon. Significantly less traffic uncertainty and, if a flight out of PAE was affected, both airlines can get you out of SEA.

Alaska and United aren't likely to go belly up anytime soon.

LAguy818
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:57 am

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by LAguy818 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:07 pm

Just checked and looks like Enterprise and Avis have PAE locations:

https://flypainefield.com/about/location

Edit to add: Looks like it's Enterprise and Avis when it opens, then the rest of the rental companies will come in shortly thereafter.

campy2010
Posts: 914
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:01 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by campy2010 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:12 pm

I almost said the later ferry would be fine on 99% of days. But then I did the math and realized it might be cutting it close if you run into bad traffic, have to return a rental car, need to check baggage, and don't have pre-check.

I would allow for an extra 15-30 minutes for the ferry unload/delays and 3 hours for the drive from Anacortes to Seattle. The traffic on the drive through Seattle is unpredictable. If you have to return a rental car, the off-site rental car facility takes at least 30 minutes for drop-off and shuttle to the airport. Then add the time you would feel comfortable navigating baggage check and security.

Since your schedule will be fixed by your flight time, book your ferry in advance.

quantAndHold
Posts: 3438
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by quantAndHold » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:18 pm

Weather that time of year is hit miss. Ferry can take 30 minutes to unload. Traffic through Seattle is hit and miss. Mostly miss.

Personally, if there isn't an earlier ferry (there might be, I can't remember if they're on the summer schedule then), I would either get a flight several hours later in the day, or travel the day before and stay in an airport hotel.

User avatar
MP123
Posts: 1081
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:32 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by MP123 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:05 pm

I've taken those ferries many times and think your schedule is a little too tight for comfort (mine at least).

Loading and unloading take a while, sometimes sailings are full, cancelled, or delayed. That's still a busy time of year but not as bad as high summer. It's a beautiful ride though and Friday harbor is a fun little town.

If it was me I'd get off the island the night before.

PAE would be much better than SEA but it's so new and service hasn't started yet so I don't know if I can recommend it.

And let's not even get started on Seattle traffic...

Austintatious
Posts: 873
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:01 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by Austintatious » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:30 pm

DW and I spent a week exploring the San Juans (stayed on Orcas Island) in late September/early October of 2014. We made the return trip to SEATAC on Sunday, October 4. Our departure time was scheduled for later in the day - 3:45p - just because I was worried about experiencing some kind of hiccup enroute. We decided to be on the earliest ferry and got to the landing plenty early. At that time, one could not reserve a place on the boat and it was first come, first on board. As it turned out, there was plenty of room on the ferry but I would definitely take advantage of a reservation.

Traffic on the interstate was light (Sunday), ditching the rental car was a breeze, and we made it to the terminal with close to three hours (so I think I remember) to spare. Happily, the good folks at SEATAC had a number of musical performers on hand, so we got to hear some good music and buy some of the offered recordings. If I were dealing with your departure time, I'd surely be on the red eye ferry. Of course, I always like to allow for plenty of time between connections, preferring to read a good book while waiting rather than miss my connection.

Good luck. I'm envious.

gokartmozart
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:32 pm
Location: Pacific NW, USA

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by gokartmozart » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:18 am

Suggestion 1: Would Bellingham airport (BLI) be an option for you?

It is about the same driving distance from Anacortes as is Paine Field (PAE) and traffic to BLI would likely be even smoother than to PAE. BLI (like PAE) has limited flights compared to a "major" airport. Put BLI and your home airport into Google Flights and see if any flight options come up. And you'd need to figure out the car return angle.

Suggestion 2: There is an airporter which runs between SeaTac and the mainland ferry terminal: http://www.airporter.com/shuttle/anacor ... rt-seattle

After taking the airporter you'd board the ferry as a "walk on" passenger. Being without a rental car could be a plus or a minus depending on your needs. It would leave you without a car to drive around San Juan island. The ferry will disgorge you right in Friday Harbor town. Is your lodging in Friday Harbor? Will your lodging do a pick-up from the ferry dock? Do you want or need to go anywhere else on the island?

User avatar
jpsfranks
Posts: 995
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2007 11:45 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by jpsfranks » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:52 am

It's expensive round trip (> $300 per person) but as long as alternatives are being discussed there is sea plane service from Lake Union directly to Friday Harbor. It's a very fun and unique Seattle experience. On nice summer/fall afternoons in Seattle I love watching the sea planes come in and out.

From the Kenmore Air dock on Lake Union there is a walkable street car that will take you downtown, from there you can catch the light rail to SeaTac bypassing traffic. If you need a car on the island there is a local island agency in Friday Harbor. If you don't need a car then all the better and you can count the savings against the flight tickets.

User avatar
goingup
Posts: 3675
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:02 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by goingup » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:04 am

I live in Seattle and have used ferries occasionally for the last decade. I haven't experienced a problem and odds are that you won't either.

Points in your favor. Late September is not high-ferry traffic season. If you book a reservation in advance you'll be in good shape. Saturday morning on the I-5 in late September should be reasonable. Dropping a rental car and shuttling back to the airport should be 15-20 minutes at most.

None of this would worry me, but I don't envision every remotely possible bad scenario when traveling. If you are the type to envision bad scenarios, stay at a SeaTac Airport hotel the night before and catch an earlier flight back to your destination.

Jimmie
Posts: 394
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:05 pm

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by Jimmie » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:10 am

dknightd wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:57 am
Life is a crap shoot. This why we have a slush fund. I'd allow 1 full day to get from Friday Harbor to SeaTac. Stay over night in Seattle if needed.
+1

I do this on almost every vacation near any big city. Well worth the couple of hundred bucks or so.

cherijoh
Posts: 6357
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Friday Harbor to SeaTac Airport

Post by cherijoh » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:15 am

evestor wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:14 am
diy60 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:11 am
Spouse and I will be spending 3 nights on San Juan island, WA in late September. We'll have a car, I have a question about the return ferry. Our planned return flight home departs SeaTac 1:30pm. Ferry schedules are not posted that far out, but using near term schedules looks like there is a 6:25am departing Friday Harbor, arrives 8:40am Anacortes, or a ferry leaving 8am arriving 9:05am. Looks like I should plan around 2 hrs to get to SeaTac. This would give me a comfortable buffer to catch a 1:30pm flight. Q: Anyone make this trip before and could there be unforeseen issues with delayed or cancelled ferry departures, fog, high wind, etc.? I'm assuming I should purchase ferry tickets in advance due to having a vehicle.
Yes you should assume these things are possible. Weather & ferry issues (ex: mechanical issues) are both totally possible and do happen more often than we care to admit. It's not an every week thing, but it's not a once per decade thing either.
I would have a backup plan in the event the ferry does not pan out.
Friday Harbor can be quite foggy early in the morning. I'm not sure if that would prevent the ferry from leaving though.

Don't forget to allow for time for cars to disembark the ferry. I took a lot of ferries and for some of the larger ones the process was quite slow - sort of like getting out of a parking deck after a concert lets out.

Post Reply