We had another big arrival yesterday and a big departure this morning. Arrivals and departures are very important to us, because we know that first and last impressions are what people tend to remember the most. So we try to take care to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible for you at the airport.
Flying into Sitka is an interesting experience, especially for newcomers. The runway is located on Japonski Island, and takes up almost the entire length of the island. When flying in, you start getting lower and lower over the water, until suddenly the runway appears and you touch down almost immediately. We commonly hear, “I thought we were going to land in the water!” Fortunately, this has never actually happened.
The Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport is not very big, but around flight times, it gets very busy. There are five flights in and five flights out every day, and just one gate. Alaska Airlines is the only commercial airliner that flies in, and most people connect in Seattle, Washington to get to Sitka, which is about a 3-hour flight.
We ask for your flight information before you arrive, so we know when to pick you up. When you come into the main terminal, our client coordinator will be there waiting to greet you, holding a sign with our Alaska Premier Charters, Inc. / Wild Strawberry Lodge logo on it.
She will help you out with your baggage, and drive you and any other guests from that flight back to the Wild Strawberry Lodge. The lodge is a short 3 mile drive from the airport, less than 1 mile from the downtown shopping area.
Our biggest arrival on one flight this summer was 22 people. It required three vans and some extra planning, to ensure everyone was taken care of properly; it went without a hitch and before too long, everyone was sitting at the lodge eating fresh homemade cookies and signing their fishing licenses.
When you’re having a blast catching ocean-bright king salmon and feisty halibut, the fishing trip always goes by too fast. As staff, we love talking to you and getting to know you, so it is always hard to say good-bye at the end of your stay. Even if you arrived a stranger, you leave a friend, and we can only hope you’ll come back to see us again the following summer.
Theresa, the owner of Alaska Premier Charters, greets a client.
When we bring you back to the airport, again we do everything we can to smooth out the process. Since we have guest computers with Internet at the lodge, we can help you do your web check-in the night before you leave. That way you already have your boarding pass and can go through the short, fast lane at the airport. We aim to get to the airport two hours before your flight leaves. This helps ensure that your fish goes on the same flight as you. Sometimes the flight is very full, and if you get there too late, your checked luggage gets put on the next flight.
We transport guests and their luggage in one van. Your fish boxes go in another van, which the processors drive over, and have set up for you at the check-in counter before you even get there. Our client coordinator is there to see that everyone gets checked in and receives the proper fish boxes. It’s a very quick, efficient process, even through the chaos of a fully booked flight.
Your fish is packed in boxes that will keep everything frozen up to 24 hours out of the freezer. Of course we hope you get home sooner than that, but if there are any delays in your flight, your fish should still be fine; just get it into the freezer as soon as possible so it keeps its freshness and flavor.
Flying may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we try to smooth out as many wrinkles as we can so it is hassle-free for you. Our airport procedures stem from over 20 years of experience, and we’re constantly refining them so your arrival and departure leave you feeling good. We’re looking forward to greeting you at the airport the next time you stay with us at the Wild Strawberry Lodge!