Customers advised to check current flight status on alaskaair.com; continued cancellations and delays possible due to changing weather conditions
SEATTLE, Jan. 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Freezing rain and snow continue to affect Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air operations, which forced the carriers to cancel 310 flights to and from Seattle by early evening, affecting 29,000 passengers. Only 15 of Alaska's 114 daily flights and one Horizon flight had departed Seattle by that time as the region was hit by an extraordinary ice storm.
"We are doing our best to operate as many flights as possible to get people where they need to go as we cope with severe ice accumulation on our planes," Alaska Airlines' President Brad Tilden said. "We appreciate customers' patience and understanding as we contend with the freezing rain that has disrupted travel throughout the region. Our operational decisions will continue to be guided by our commitment to safety."
Tilden advised customers to check the status of their flights online at www.alaskaair.com and not drive to the airport unless their flight is scheduled to operate.
Both airlines are working to re-accommodate passengers whose flights have been disrupted. Passengers booked on canceled flights to or from Seattle between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20 may request a refund of the unused portion of their ticket at www.alaskaair.com through Jan. 25. Customers who need to reschedule their travel should call Alaska Airlines Reservations at 1-800-ALASKAAIR (1-800-252-7522 or TTY/TDD line 1-800-392-0228). The airline is waiving change fees.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will attempt to operate 20 departures from Seattle each for the rest of the day, if weather conditions permit. Weather reports forecast freezing rain until midnight with rain expected tomorrow. If that holds true, the carriers expect to return to mostly normal operations on Friday, however, the forecasts have been changing frequently.
By the numbers:
- Due to the unusual icing conditions, it is taking one hour to deice one aircraft — four times longer than normal — and requires quadruple the amount of deicing fluid.
- Sixteen deicing trucks are being used to fight snow and ice. The trucks use forced air in conjunction with de-icing fluid, making them more efficient while using less fluid.
- Since 2008, the airline has increased its holding capacity of de-icing fluid at Sea-Tac by 70 percent.
- Fifty phones and computer stations have been set up in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport terminal to enable additional agents to rebook customers faster.
- More than 345 Alaska Airlines' reservations agents are working to assist customers — a 35 percent increase in staffing. As many as 750 calls made to Alaska's reservations center were on hold at one time.
- As many as 120 employees have been staying in hotels near Sea-Tac Airport the past two nights to ensure they could make it to work.
- More than 30 employees from Alaska Airlines' Corporate Headquarters are volunteering at the airport today to assist customers.
Due to the ongoing possibility of adverse weather and as a precaution, the airlines are not allowing unaccompanied minors or checked pets to travel at this time.
SOURCE Alaska Airlines
Note to news media: Images of Alaska Airlines 737 planes taken from the Seattle ramp are available on the airline's Facebook at www.facebook.com/alaskaairlines.
Alaska Airlines Media Relations, +1-206-392-5101