After S.F. crash, fliers at Sea-Tac face rebooking plans
The crash at the San Francisco airport caused international flights to be diverted to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and it meant cancellations and delays for some travelers.
Seattle Times staff reporters
The Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco complicated plans for some travelers at Seattle Tacoma International Airport Saturday afternoon as they realized their flights to San Francisco were canceled or delayed.
Three departures and two arrivals were canceled on Virgin America and United. Other flights on United, Alaska, British Airways and Virgin America were delayed by more than an hour.
Six international flights heading to San Francisco were diverted to Sea-Tac, said airport spokesman Perry Cooper, because of the crash of the Boeing 777.
A United flight from Frankfurt was eventually canceled and passengers accommodated overnight. Another United flight from Frankfurt was scheduled to arrive at Sea-Tac later Saturday evening. Three flights — an Air France flight from Paris, British Air from London, and Emirates from Dubai — landed at Sea-Tac, were held at the gate and then departed for San Francisco. A Swissair flight from Zurich refueled and later left for San Francisco.
At the Virgin America counter, customer-service representative Jody Devereaux collected slips of paper with travelers’ names and phone numbers so the airline could rebook or cancel flights without the people standing line. “Just to cause them less stress,” Devereaux said.
She advised travelers that their quickest option to get home would be to rebook through another carrier and obtain a refund, as the soonest flights on Virgin America would be Monday or Tuesday.
Holly Mitchell and Cameron Simmons of Richmond, Va., stood in line anyway.
“We don’t really have $500 to buy another ticket and wait for a refund,” Mitchell said. The couple was flying to Dulles International Airport on their way home from a weeklong vacation.
“We’re trying to keep the spirits up and smiles on our faces,” Simmons said.
Wim Troelstra found himself in Seattle for a second time Saturday after his plane left for San Francisco. An hour into the flight he saw a video on the in-flight screen that a plane had crashed in San Francisco.
“We made a U-turn and returned,” said Troelstra, standing at the United ticket counter to figure out his options. He was heading home to Amsterdam with a deep tan after a three-week vacation exploring the Olympic Peninsula.
Michael Cook, a United customer-service supervisor, said the counter was following standard procedure and rebooking passengers. The full picture of delays and cancellations was still emerging, he said.
“We’re just finding out as they go,” Cook said.
Asiana flies in and out of Seattle, and Sea-Tac’s website showed that flights to and from San Francisco that Asiana shares with another airline were canceled Saturday.
Alaska Airlines said that more than 2,500 passengers could be affected by flights it might divert to San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento Airports as well as flights it has canceled or might cancel.
It said passengers should check its website and said passengers who had been scheduled to fly out of San Francisco through July 9 would be allowed to change tickets through that date without additional fees, if tickets are available.
Meanwhile, the local Korean community reacted to the crash of the Asiana flight from Seoul, South Korea. On hearing about the crash Saturday morning, pastor Inseok Yi of Seattle First Korean church said, “I will let my people know about this.”
Of those on the Asiana plane, he said, “I pray for the rest of their families.”