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5 things to know about the newest Tri-Cities flight — beyond Disneyland at the other end

The Port of Pasco celebrated the launch of daily, nonstop air service to Los Angeles International Airport Monday with silly sunglasses, cake, the Beach Boys on the sound system and a festive sendoff to passengers — many bound for Disneyland.

United Airlines officially began offering a daily nonstop flight between the Tri-Cities Airport and LAX on Sunday but officials marked the occasion Monday.

The moment capped years of effort to convince an airline to add regular service to LAX, the most popular destination for outbound passengers in the region.

Allegiant Air provides non-daily service to LAX.

Here’s 5 things to know:

What you’ll pay: Round trip tickets on United cost around $350, according to a search on Expedia.com, a popular travel site.

Delta and Alaska Airlines both charge about $100 less for non-direct flights.

Allegiant Air also flies the Pasco-LAX run, but it is a seasonal, weekend-oriented service. If the dates work, it’s a bargain with round-trip fares below $100 on the airline’s website.

What you’ll fly on: United initially said it would assign a 76-seat Embraer 175 on the route.

Now, it is flying the Embraer on the northbound leg, but will use a smaller, 50-seat CRJ for the return flight.

The change disappointed fliers who were looking forward to flying first class, which is offered on the Embraer but not the CRJ.

Port of Pasco officials say not to read to much into the equipment change. Airlines frequently change equipment so it doesn’t reflect slow ticket sales.

Business-plus class: The Tri-Cities Air Service Task Force, which lobbies airlines to serve the Pasco airport, prioritized a run to LAX because it is the leading destination for Tri-City fliers, particularly business travelers.

But the fully-booked CRJ that took off Monday afternoon was chock-full of families, who cheered when asked if they were going to Disneyland.

That’s not a surprise. Tri-City schools are on spring break this week.

What time is the flight: United passengers leave Pasco at 3:42 p.m., and arrive in Los Angeles two hours and 39 minutes later, according to the current schedule.

Delta passengers leave at 5:05 p.m. and arrive at Ontario six hours and 16 minutes later, via Salt Lake City.

Where else can I go nonstop: The four airlines serving the Tri-Cities Airport offer direct service to Seattle, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Mesa, Ariz.

Unfortunately, the Tri-Cities lost its direct connection to Portland when Alaska Airlines/Horizon canceled the flight.

Tri-City passengers can get to Portland by way of Seattle or San Francisco without changing airlines.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.
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