Inaugural Passenger Embodies the Spirit of Alaska Airlines

Amidst the fanfare of every grand celebration lies the real story. Such a story was found during the Oct. 1 Alaska Airlines launch of new service when Carmelita Zapata-Llaneta stepped off the plane at RDU arriving on the first inbound flight from Seattle.

Carmelita Zapata-Llaneta

Carmelita Zapata-Llaneta

What makes Carmelita special is that she embodies the spirit of Alaska Airlines – she’s all about adventure and has a passion for aviation. Carmelita retired last year after a 30-year career as a customer service agent with Alaska Airlines. Since then she has made it her business to fly on as many inaugural routes as possible – over 26 roundtrips, according to her colleagues.

That same bold spirit is what makes Alaska Airlines one of the great legacy air carriers in the US. And why, since 2009, RDU has been courting the carrier to serve RDU.

Not only does Alaska Airlines’ service to Seattle connect our region with mutual interests in the life sciences, technology and digital gaming industries, Seattle service opens a gateway of travel opportunities in the Pacific Northwest not easily accessible.  And of course those inbound tourists yearning to experience all that North Carolina offers will be as thrilled as those seeking Alaska adventure packages.

Alaska Airlines has a rich heritage starting in the 1930s. It successfully persevered throughout the decades expanding its route structure to the East and now the Southeast with service to Nashville, RDU and soon Charleston. Today the technology-savvy carrier is a match made in and for North Carolina’s blue heaven.

So, welcome Alaska Airlines!  And thank you Carmelita Zapata-Llaneta, for ushering in the spirit of Alaska Airlines to RDU.

About Teresa Damiano

Teresa Damiano is the Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. She directs air service development, guest services, communications and customer service. And, she's not afraid to bribe an airline with her famous homemade lasagna.
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