Tuesday a.m. travel alert: Weather-related delays expected at Sea-Tac
Update: 10:42 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, 2016: Wintry weather conditions are still impacting flight operations at Sea-Tac International Airport. Additional precipitation is forecasted tonight with cold temperatures settling in, creating the potential for ice at the airport and on aircraft. That requires deicing of planes before they can takeoff.
As a precaution, Alaska Airlines is cancelling roughly 35 flights from 6 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. That’s the busiest time for departures at the Sea-Tac. The number of available gates at the airport is already at capacity, so a notable weather event puts even more pressure on airport operations. Pre-cancelling flights prevents congestion and allows our crews to keep up with the workload, especially when deicing is required.
Customers will be notified if their flight is being cancelled. 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.
Alaska has issued a flexible travel policy for customers traveling to and from Seattle. Customers may change or refund tickets without incurring a fee for travel originally scheduled for Dec. 5 or Dec. 6. Tickets may be changed to reissued or refunded if the travel is in the same cabin and completed on or before Dec. 11.
Monday at 2 p.m. : A winter weather event that swept into Western Washington today significantly disrupted Alaska’s Seattle hub. As of 1 p.m., 48 Alaska Airlines flights have been cancelled at Sea-Tac. The travel disruptions impacted 6,300 passengers.
The morning snow that fell required deicing of our aircraft. This came during the busiest period of the travel day. A combination of issues resulted in a slower rate of deicing than we had planned. This in turn has caused issues with gate availability for incoming flights, resulting in missed connections and delays of one to two hours.
“We fell short today and I apologize,” said Ben Minicucci, president and COO of Alaska Airlines. “We pride ourselves on running a reliable airline and that didn’t happen today. We’ve staffed up and are working to get our customers to their final destinations as quickly as possible.”
We’re reaching out to customers by email with an apology, and for those most severely impacted by today’s delay we’ll be offering a financial customer service gesture. If your Seattle inbound or outbound flight was canceled, we will waive change fees or extend a full refund.
“Our call centers are working overtime to assist any customer impacted by today’s weather event,” said Minicucci.
While snow is not expected tomorrow, precipitation and overnight freezing temperatures could cause ice crystals to form on planes. If this happens, the planes would need to be deiced before they can fly. Alaska Airlines is monitoring weather conditions and will determine tonight whether it will pre-cancel flights scheduled to depart Tuesday morning.