1 p.m., Feb. 6 update

Alaska Airlines continues to respond to ongoing snowfall at its largest hub. In anticipation of additional flight cancellations expected for this evening, we’re extending our flexible travel policy. That means customers can change or cancel flights online at no additional cost. Learn more here.

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Sara Zaki used to think she’d like to be a doctor when she grows up. That was before she spent three formative middle school years as a Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program scholar.

Today? The 17-year-old Running Start student plans to be a pilot. An African-American female pilot, to be precise. Because “you just don’t hear about a lot of those.”

Zaki spent three years in the program, which was created in 2008 to honor the memory of astronaut Michael P. Anderson. Anderson, a Spokane, Washington, native, was killed 2003 in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The program is run by a board of volunteers and features six events each year, the first of which is hosted by the Museum of Flight. The goal is to reach underrepresented youth of color across the state and inspire them to dream bigger about the future.

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Being on a plane can be stressful for a lot of people. But for children with autism, it can be an especially overwhelming and even frightening.

Alaska Airlines helped make the travel experience easier for 53 families this past Saturday during the “Sky’s the Limit” event at Portland International Airport.

The event aims to alleviate some of the stress when flying for families who have a child with autism.

Read more: 5 tips for traveling with a child on the autism spectrum

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Whether you’re snorkeling at Hanauma Bay on Oahu, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge or flying by Mount Rainier on a sunny day, Instagram allows you to share photos and videos of all aspects of your life.

More than 18,000 employees and teammates are employed at Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and Virgin America. They spend their work hours taking care of the 40 million passengers who fly each year, and their free time enjoying that airline employee life.

Check out six Alaska, Horizon and Virgin America Instagrammers who have found creative ways to showcase their adventures through photos on their Instagram accounts. And, don’t forget to follow Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

These are employees’ personal accounts linked with permission, not official company accounts. All views expressed are the employees’ own and not endorsed by Alaska (but we do love their photo skills!)

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Picture of Weekend Wanderer Nick Becerra

Residing in Seattle, Washington, Nick Becerra is a photographer and family man with a taste for adventure. Capturing images from the mountain tops is no easy job, but Nick knows just how to bring those beautiful views to the small screen. He just returned from an Instagram takeover in Whitefish, Montana as part of Alaska’s Weekend Wanderer series. For more Weekend Wanderer posts, be sure to follow Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

How much can you pack in during a weekend in a brand new place? That’s just what Alaska Airlines asked my family and I to find out as we traveled from Seattle to Whitefish, Montana. We jumped at the opportunity and immediately began researching the incredible options in the greater Whitefish area … a place we soon found out is an outdoor recreation paradise. 

We packed our skis, took the kids (ages 12 and 6) out of school for a couple of days (they were thrilled!), and booked a cozy cabin 10 minutes outside of Glacier National Park. Soon enough we walked the tarmac and boarded a small Alaska plane for the short flight to Kalispell, which felt a world away when we landed on Thursday afternoon.

We have lift off! The mountains were out in full Cascadian glory this morning as we hopped onto our @AlaskaAir flight to Whitefish, MT. What a glorious day to head east!

We have lift off! The mountains were out in full Cascadian glory this morning as we hopped onto our @AlaskaAir flight to Whitefish, MT. What a glorious day to head east!

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With the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America complete, two award-winning airlines are joining forces to provide a great customer experience. This week, Virgin America Elevate members are being invited to activate new Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan accounts and convert points to earn and redeem rewards across both networks.

You can take your Elevate points with you, too! Alaska Airlines has created new Mileage Plan accounts for Elevate members and is offering members a chance to transfer their points with a 30 percent bonus (e.g., 1,000 Elevate points = 1,300 Alaska miles). Members who have Elevate Gold or Silver status will be matched to comparable elite tiers in Mileage Plan.

Virgin America customers have grown used to the benefits they receive from Elevate, but there are fundamental differences between Elevate and Mileage Plan—not better or worse, just different. Some readers may also be taking a fresh look at Mileage Plan since Alaska Airlines is providing more opportunities than ever to reach your destination. I’ll try to explain how you can continue to get great rewards as a frequent traveler.

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For the fourth year in a row, The Wall Street Journal ranked Alaska Airlines No. 1 among the nine largest U.S. carriers in its 2016 Airline Scorecard.

Aside from taking the overall top spot, Alaska was first in on-time arrivals and had the fewest extreme delays, fewest 2-hour tarmac delays and fewest complaints. Alaska took third in the canceled flights and involuntary bumping, and fourth in mishandled bags.

“This is a fantastic testament to the skill and dedication of our people,” said CEO Brad Tilden. “The rest of the leadership team and I want to thank all of you for the many things you’ve done across the board, including the particular focus on bags- to keep us No. 1 in our customers’ eyes.”

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A documentary filmmaker and photographer working in Havana, Cuba, Amberly Alene captures the colorful vibrancy and culture of the Caribbean through a photographic eye. She recently took over the Alaska Airlines Instagram account as a “Local Wanderer” as a part of Alaska’s Weekend Wanderer series. To see more local flavors of the world, make sure you’re following Alaska Airlines on Instagram.

The streets of Havana have their own unique melody. The rumbling of taxi engines and the calls of street vendors collide with the sounds of pop music and bachata from the speakers of bici-taxi drivers. The boom of a reggeton beat may greet your ear at the passing of an arch of any given doorway in a centuries old apartment building in Havana Vieja. For me, each day in Havana is a ballad. It is an intricate song with a special melody. There is a constant rhythm of day to day life that makes the city so famously unforgettable.

amberly top four Local Wanderer: Eclectic live music in Havana, Cuba

The daily sounds of Havana are the inspirations for my top five picks of Havana’s live music for an eclectic ear. These are my favorite selections for a great night of music in Havana:
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11 a.m. Jan. 9 update 

Wintry weather is continuing to create travel issues in Portland today. As of 11 a.m., Horizon Air has canceled 24 flights into and out of the airport due to icy conditions. There were also three cancellations into and out of Eugene and five cancellations into and out of Redmond, Oregon.

The weather has continued to evolve since Sunday with freezing rain in each of these cities. Deicing of the aircraft is required whenever there’s frozen precipitation, so cancellations in these locations were made to account for the time needed for this process.

Passengers are encouraged to check alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile app before heading to the airport to verify the status of their flight. A flexible travel policy is in place. Customers impacted by this weather event are able to rebook their flight online or apply for a refund online at alaskaair.com, without paying a change fee. As a result of the volume of cancellations, customers are advised to change their travel online, if possible.

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When Alaska Airlines began service to Havana on Jan. 5, it wasn’t the first time the airline had flown to Cuba.

In the early 1970s, Alaska flew U.S. Military Airlift Command charter flights to the base at Guantanamo Bay, as well as charters to Caribbean locations such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Panama.

Some of the flight attendants from that era still fly for Alaska Airlines today, including Julia Simmonds, Joanne De Cicco, Lynn Odell and Gail Spaeth, as well as Jackie Fay, now a lead reservations sales agent.

“It was all very exciting for a young woman of 20 years of age,” Simmonds said. “We flight attendants were still in our VERY short Russian uniforms at the time, which the military men enjoyed very much.”

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