Flight cancellations result in hectic vacation journey for Alaskans

Estimated read time 5 min read

Alaska Airways planes are parked at a number of gates at Ted Stevens Anchorage Worldwide Airport on January 5, 2022. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The night time earlier than Christmas Eve, Michael Mahmood was on trip visiting his girlfriend’s household in Denver.

He drove from Seward to Anchorage. Then he bought an alert: his flight from Seattle to Denver was cancelled.

“There was a line all the best way from the prepare station to the airport terminus,” he mentioned. “After which I hit the again wall and began to show. So I simply began strolling.”

Mahmoud was not alone. Tens of 1000’s of individuals canceled their journey plans over the vacation weekend. Airways have canceled 1000’s of flights. A lot of that’s as a result of extreme winter storms that wreaked havoc on Decrease 48. A wave of delays and cancellations has left some vacationers stranded at airports and a few like Mahmoud not getting on their flights in any respect.

Mahmoud mentioned flights over the weekend have been canceled a number of instances.

First was his Seattle-Denver flight. Later, flights to and from Seattle had been additionally cancelled. He was rebooked for an additional flight the next night time. Later that flight was additionally cancelled. He was rebooked once more. One other airline. And that flight was additionally cancelled.

“The following out there flight that the app confirmed was not till (Tuesday), it was simply earlier than midnight, so it is tonight,” he mentioned. “However I did not need to be in Anchorage all over Christmas and yesterday. I knew the climate was going to be unhealthy, so I drove residence.”

Anchorage-based journey marketing consultant Scott McMullen described it as a “excellent storm” to hit the Pacific Northwest.

“We had ice, snow, freezing rain and wind in Seattle and Portland and even right here in Anchorage,” McMullen mentioned.

A lot of the delays occurred at airports within the southern 48 states, however McMullen mentioned Anchorage additionally had climate issues and a few flights had been rerouted to Fairbanks as a substitute.

Trudy Wassel, deputy director of Ted Stevens Anchorage Worldwide Airport, mentioned the climate was a priority, together with sturdy winds and snowstorms, however the airport itself was doing higher than in different states.

“The excellent news is that the airport was by no means closed,” Wassell mentioned. “We now have nice operations, services and airfield upkeep personnel to maintain this airport open and out there for touchdown and takeoff flights.”

Seattle-Tacoma Airport wasn’t so fortunate, with a number of runways closed for a number of hours over the weekend.

Kyle Potter, govt editor of journey and flight web site Thrifty Traveler, described the weekend as one of many busiest journey seasons on file.He mentioned the variety of canceled flights was “unprecedented”

“If not the worst airline meltdown within the final decade, it is arguably the worst within the final decade,” Potter mentioned.

Potter mentioned one of many largest culprits in nationwide hectic journey was Southwest Airways, which canceled 1000’s of flights a day over the weekend. Alaska Airways, the principle service within the Northwest, mentioned it was rather less busy however nonetheless had many cancellations.

“Alaska Airways is struggling,” Potter mentioned. “They canceled 10-20% of his flights yesterday and at present.”

In an announcement Tuesday, Alaska Airways really helpful that every one passengers examine flight standing earlier than departing for the airport. The aircraft and its crew had been stranded attributable to winter climate throughout the nation, it mentioned.

In Juneau, airport parking heaps remained congested as residents continued to battle to depart Seattle.

Juneau Airport supervisor Patti Wert mentioned each long-term and short-term parking heaps, which accommodate a complete of about 250 automobiles, had been full on Tuesday. mentioned they need to keep away from parking on the airport.

“It is climaxing proper now,” she mentioned. “I see automobiles parked the place they should not be parked, and that is blocking folks from passing.”

Juneau resident Jeralyn Davis was scheduled to go to Anchorage for remedy at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. In the midst of the night time, her flight was cancelled.

“I have been flying there for over 4 years to make this occur and I’ve by no means had one canceled.

Alaska Airways reserved a seat for Davis on Thursday morning’s flight. Now she has to reschedule her physician’s appointment and switch from the airport.

“I’ve a good friend who will decide me up after I arrive in Anchorage, and she’s going to drive an hour to Wasilla. We’re planning that as nicely,” she mentioned. “So it is solely a whole lot of components that get upset when it is cancelled.”

Potter, with Thifty Traveler, mentioned he expects flight cancellations to proceed sooner or later as airways try to satisfy excessive flight demand after shrinking their workforces throughout the pandemic.

Katie Anastas of KTOO contributed to this report.

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