SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - For the first time ever, a Boeing 737 from Alaska Airlines put its wheels down at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport on Sunday afternoon.
Airport spokeswoman Deanna Zachrisson said the direct flight to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport indicates an increase in travelers opting to to fly out of Santa Barbara versus larger airports.
"It really signals a new trend of increasing passengers at the airport," Zachrisson said. "In fact, this first flight was packed."
Airport staff say the flight is adding twice as many seats on each arrival and departure, helping those traveling for business and pleasure.
"The ability to be connected so easily between Seattle and Santa Barbara is a great thing for leisure travel, but it's also really great for our business community," Zachrisson said.
David Otto was a passenger on Sunday's inaugural plane ride. He says he travels between both cities frequently for business.
"I've been on smaller ones, kind of the four-seaters on each side, so this was definitely a nicer flight down," Otto said.
The airport says the extra seats helps keeps the costs of the fairs down, with each route starting at $114.
Despite the amount of people on the plane, the passengers we spoke to said it was a comfortable ride.
"It was awesome," passenger Eric Berquist said. "It seemed like it might be too big for this little airport but it all worked out so it was great."
"We just wanted to make a quick weekend trip to Seattle and we were glad to see this flight because my family could get us to and from the airport and it was so simple and easy for us," Tammy Bell said.
For Bell, weekend trips will be a lot easier thanks to the non-stop flights.
"If I want to get anywhere I always have to stop off in Phoenix or Las Vegas so this was nice to be a direct flight," Bell said.
For more information about incoming and outgoing flights at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, visit their website.