Update: Winter weather affects travel in Seattle and Portland

Noon Update: Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are making progress today getting flight operations back on track in Seattle and Portland. Wintry weather conditions triggered cancellations yesterday into this morning.

Here’s the latest as of noon:

Sea-Tac

  • Alaska canceled 8 flights in and out of Seattle today.
  • Horizon canceled 6 flights in and out of Seattle today.
  • Those cancellations combined affected 1,656 passengers in Seattle.
  • Light rain is forecasted for the rest of the day.
  • Snow started falling at 7:30 p.m. last night at Sea-Tac.
  • Employees worked quickly to get scheduled departing flights out and aircraft overnighting in Seattle parked safely.

Portland

  • Alaska canceled 9 flights in and out of Portland today.
  • Horizon canceled 20 flights in and out of Portland today.
  • Those cancellations combined affected 2,587 passengers affected in Portland.
  • Freezing rain remains a serious concern at the airport. Icy conditions created a tremendous safety issue.
  • Deicing operations are underway on both Alaska and Horizon aircraft.
  • Passengers in Portland should arrive at the airport early and be prepared for long lines as Alaska and Horizon work to re-accommodate customers.

Even with improving weather, it will take some time to get aircraft repositioned back in Seattle and Portland. Planes were kept at other airports until the winter weather system moved through the Northwest.

On Thursday, Alaska and Horizon together canceled 127 flights into and out of Seattle and Portland affecting nearly 11,000 customers.


10 a.m. Update  As of 10 a.m. Alaska Air Group has canceled 13 flights out of Seattle due to winter weather, affecting more than 1,500 passengers.

The airline has also canceled 24 flights scheduled to depart Portland, affecting more than 2,300 customers.

Freezing rain is still falling in Portland this morning.

If you’re traveling from Portland International Airport, plan to arrive at the airport early and be prepared for long lines as Alaska and Horizon work to re-accommodate customers.

On Thursday Alaska and Horizon together canceled 127 flights into and out of Seattle and Portland affecting nearly 11,000 customers. Snow started falling at 7:30 p.m. last night at Sea-Tac Airport. Employees worked quickly to get scheduled departing flights out and aircraft overnighting in Seattle parked safely.

Nothing is as challenging to our operation as freezing rain. These are the conditions at Portland International Airport this morning.

Nothing is as challenging to our operation as freezing rain. These are the conditions at Portland International Airport this morning.


Update 2 p.m. on Dec. 8 Snowy conditions are impacting operations for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air in Portland, with freezing rain later today expected to be another significant factor. That wintry weather moving in from the south is forecasted to hit the Seattle area starting early this evening.

As of 2 p.m., Alaska and Horizon together are canceling 37 flights into and out of Sea-Tac today. There could be additional cancellations for Friday. By reducing aircraft, it helps ease congestion at the airport, especially with limited gate availability at the concourses. Reducing the number of flights also allows to focus on deicing aircraft, which typically takes about 25 minutes during snowy conditions.

Whenever there’s any snowfall on our planes, we begin deicing as part of our safety protocol. We have added maintenance crews at Sea-Tac to do that work, with 12 trucks ready to get rolling when they’re needed along with a well-stocked amount of deicing solution.

In Portland, Alaska and Horizon had previously canceled 60 flights into and out of that airport before the weather system pushed in.

Customers will be notified if their flight is canceled. Passengers are also encouraged to check alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile app before heading to the airport to verify the status of their flight.

We will waive the change fees and the difference in the price of the ticket if the new travel is booked to or from affected cities, Seattle or Portland, in the same cabin and completed on or before Dec. 12. You may request a refund if you choose not to travel at all. Tickets must be exchanged or refunded on or before Dec. 12.


Noon Update Alaska Airlines is continuing to keep track of winter weather impacting or set to impact our main hubs in Seattle and Portland. Snow and freezing rain are the prime concerns.

In Seattle, the timing of when the snow will move in has been changing. It’s now expected to begin falling during the early evening hours.

As of noon today, Alaska and Horizon have canceled 22 flights into and out of Sea-Tac to help stabilize flight operations. More cancellations are possible. By reducing aircraft at the airport, it helps ease congestion, especially with limited gate availability at the concourses.

In Portland, where the wintry conditions are hitting first, Alaska and Horizon had previously canceled 60 flights.

As part of our safety protocol, whenever there’s any snowfall on aircraft we begin deicing procedures. We have added maintenance crews at Sea-Tac to do that work, with 12 trucks ready to get rolling when they’re needed along with well-stocked supplies. A typical deicing procedure takes about 25 minutes for each plane during snowy conditions and takes place at each gate.


9 a.m. Update Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have pre-canceled 60 flights into and out of Portland International Airport this morning due to severe weather conditions, affecting 5,280 passengers.

At Sea-Tac airport, snow is forecasted to begin falling in the late afternoon and continue through the evening hours. Though no flights into and out of Sea-Tac have been canceled at this time, Air Group is looking at options based on updated forecasts.

Customers will be notified if their flight is being pre-canceled. Passengers are also encouraged to check alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile app before heading to the airport to verify the status of their flight.


Original post from 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 At Sea-Tac airport, snow is forecasted to begin falling in the early afternoon and continue through the evening hours. In Portland, freezing rain will be a major issue most of the day.

As a precautionary move to stabilize flight operations, Alaska Airlines’ regional partner Horizon Air is proactively pre-canceling at least 31 flights scheduled to arrive or depart Portland on Thursday. Aircraft will also be diverted from Portland to prevent planes from being stranded there. Ice is one the most difficult weather conditions to manage and becomes a tremendous safety issue. Overall airport operations there could be severely curtailed.

At this time, no flights are being pre-canceled by Alaska Airlines at Sea-Tac, but we’re looking at options based on updated forecasts. Incoming flights could also be diverted from Sea-Tac to alleviate congestion at the airport.

Whenever there’s frozen precipitation on our aircraft, we begin deicing procedures as part of our safety protocol. That work takes between 20 to 25 minutes for each plane during snow conditions, which is done by our own maintenance crews at Sea-Tac.

“This past Monday we could have handled the snowy conditions and other contributing factors at Sea-Tac much better during the season’s first winter weather event. We apologize to our customers for any inconveniences they might have experienced,” said Ben Minicucci, president and COO for Alaska Airlines.

Here’s what we’re doing differently for this upcoming weather event:

  • We’re adding more staff to deice our aircraft
  • We’re bringing in our most senior teams to handle the work
  • More trucks will be at the ready to do the deicing
  • We’re prepping our trucks and supplies to be able to complete the deicing procedures more quickly
  • We’ve mapped out a better coordination and operational game plan to be more efficient

Customers will be notified if their flight is being pre-canceled. Passengers are also encouraged to check alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile app before heading to the airport to verify the status of their flight.

For any customers with flexible travel plans, they might want to consider changing their flight arrangements for Thursday afternoon and evening through Seattle and Portland airports to avoid potential cancellations or delays.

Passengers can change or refund their tickets that were purchased on or before Dec. 5 for travel scheduled between Dec. 5-9 without incurring a fee for travel to and from Seattle and Portland. We will waive the change fees and the difference in the price of the ticket if the new travel is booked to or from the affected cities in the same cabin and completed on or before Dec. 12. Passengers may request a refund if they choose not to travel at all. Tickets must be exchanged or refunded on or before Dec. 12.

One Comment on “Update: Winter weather affects travel in Seattle and Portland

  1. Alaska’s well prepared, professional de-ice team is the best in the industry, dealing with severe winter conditions is one of the maintenance team’ s greatest challenges, they are well trained and highly competent doing their best for the company and the customer. We proudly applaud their efforts and results!

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