Greetings and welcome to another flight report! Today I will be flying Boutique Air for the second time, this time from BWI to Altoona (but not really, which I'll get into later). Boutique Air is subsidized carrier under the Essential Air Services program which provides air service to remote areas in which affordable air service wouldn't be commercially feasible. The other unique part about this airline is that it operates tiny 8 seater Pilatus PC12s in a private configuration, hence the tagline 'Fly private for the cost of commercial'. I booked this flight about a week out for the low price of $29, which is unbeatable value. I arrived at BWI an hour and 15 minutes before my flight, which turned out to be way too much time. I proceeded to the check in desk and handed the agent my ID and got my boarding pass.
He asked my weight due to balance concerns on the plane. The process took about 5 minutes and was seamless. I headed straight to security which had no line at all. I was airside in 10 minutes. I headed straight to the regional terminal of BWI which was about a five minute brisk walk away.
I arrived at the gate area with plenty of time to spare and had a great view of our 2007 Pilatus PC12.
The boarding process took literally two minutes there were only three others on the plane with me. T
he plane was in a private configuration of seats in a 1-1 configuration with the first row facing rearwards and the last row being less comfortable, removable seats.
The seats in row 2 are definitely the best as if no one is seated in front of you (as was the case for me), you have unlimited legroom. The boarding door was quickly shut behind us and the first officer gave us perhaps the shortest safety demo I've ever had. We had a quick taxi to the runway and took off.
We had great views of the Baltimore suburbs as we climbed out. There was some light chop on the way out and it was definitely more noticeable than on a larger, commercial plane but it wasn't anything terrible. The takeoff roll was one of the shortest I've ever had as was the climb out. Once we leveled out, I opened the large tray table shared between the two seats and did a bit of work.
The seats have adjustable headrests like in a car, which is nice considering the seat backs aren't that high.
The seats can swivel towards the aisle and have a massive amount of recline. The padding was excellent. One thing to note that was the plane wasn't in the best condition with scuff marks all over the place. Keep in mind it wasn't anything offensive, it just wasn't great. The seat covers were also mismatched, which ruined the aesthetic of the cabin a bit but again, a minor, unimportant detail. The cabin height is also quite low so you have to crouch to stand up. Near the front of the plane are drawers with drinks and snacks that the first officer encouraged us to use.
While it's discouraged to be used, there is a closet that folds out into a lavatory, best suited for emergency only.
Soon, we started are descent into Altoona which gave off great views of the countryside.
We had a very smooth landing and a quick taxi to the gate. A cool feature of these small planes is that you can see into the cockpit, which is awesome. I was the first person do disembark and had a 30 second walk into the tiny terminal of Altoona Blair County Airport. The funny thing is that despite the name, the airport is quite far from Altoona and. is actually situated in Martinsburg, PA.
The funny thing is that despite the name, the airport is quite far from Altoona and. is actually situated in Martinsburg, PA.
Overall I had a great experience with Boutique Air. The fact that you can fly on what is in essence a private plane for so cheap is incredible. I wouldn't hesitate to fly with them again.