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Seattle snow continues to cause chaos for Alaska Airlines

Posted: January 19, 2012 - 8:27pm  |  Updated: January 20, 2012 - 1:09am
Icicles hang from an Alaska Airlines 737 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Thursday. A winter storm that hit the Pacific Northwest Wednesday and Thursday has wreaked havoc with flights in and out of Sea-Tac.    Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines
Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines
Icicles hang from an Alaska Airlines 737 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Thursday. A winter storm that hit the Pacific Northwest Wednesday and Thursday has wreaked havoc with flights in and out of Sea-Tac.

A winter weather storm that has hammered the Pacific Northwest forced Alaska Airlines to cancel nearly 100 flights out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Thursday, creating a backlog of stranded passengers that may take days to clear up.

In all, Alaska Airlines, along with its subsidiary Horizon Airlines, scrubbed 310 flights in or out of Seattle on Thursday, according to a release from the airlines and reports by The Associated Press. More than 29,000 passengers have been affected by the cancellations, the release states. Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden told the AP rebooking passengers may take days. Additionally, the Seattle-based carrier canceled 38 flights in and out of both Seattle and Portland, Ore. on Wednesday, as a precaution against predicted snow. Icing conditions Alaska Air described as “unusual” caused plane de-icing procedures to take one hour per aircraft — four times longer than normal, a release from the airline stated.

The storm closed Sea-Tac Thursday morning. The airport managed to get its three runways open one by one during the day, according to the AP. As of 6:25 p.m. Thursday, all three runways were open.

Freezing rain was expected to drop four-tenths on an inch of ice on Seattle on Thursday, according to the AP. This is on the heels of a snowstorm that blanketed the Alaska Air travel hub with more than 7 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures in Seattle were below freezing at 28 degrees at 5:53 p.m., according to the NWS. However, temperatures were expected to climb to about 36 degrees by 4 a.m. Friday, and stay above freezing for the rest of the week. If the forecast holds, Alaska Airlines will have “mostly normal” operations Friday, the release from the airline states.

Alaska scrubbed eight of 10 flights going to or from Seattle from Juneau international Airport on Thursday. A flight left Seattle at 5:42 p.m. Thursday en route to Ketchikan, nearly four hours after its originally scheduled departure time, according to the Alaska Airlines website. That flight was set to make a stop in Sitka before continuing on to Juneau with an estimated arrival time of 10:18 p.m, more than three hours late. One flight from Juneau to Sitka, Ketchikan and Seattle on Thursday afternoon made nearly on-time arrivals and departures.

One Friday flight, No. 60 from Juneau to Seattle through Ketchikan, has been cancelled as of 7 p.m. Thursday, according to the Alaska Airlines website. That flight was to leave Juneau at 7:15 a.m. and arrive in Seattle at 11:11 a.m. All other Friday flights between Juneau and Seattle were operating as scheduled as of 7 p.m. Thursday. However, flight statuses may change throughout the night and Friday morning, and Alaska Airlines urges passengers flying into or out of Seattle to check their flight statuses on alaskaair.com before leaving for the airport.

Passengers needing to reschedule flights are asked by Alaska Airlines to call 800-252-7522. Alaska Airlines is waiving change fees for passengers affected by the weather-related cancellations. Passengers booked on canceled flights into or out of Seattle between Tuesday and Friday can use the airline’s website by Wednesday to request a refund of the unused portion of their tickets.

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