Sea-Tac reopens; many flights canceled
Ice storms cause airlines to cancel more flights. Check with your airline before heading to the airport.
Seattle Times travel writer
On the Internet
Flight information: www.flightstats.comor www.portseattle.org/Sea-Tac.
Alaska and Horizon Air: www.alaskaair.com. Alaska Airlines is providing Twitter updates at @AlaskaAir and posting information on its Facebook page.
Alaska Airlines and other airlines canceled more flights in and out of Seattle Thursday as they dealt with an ice storm that temporarily shut down Sea-Tac Airport and continued to snarl air traffic.
Two of the airport's three runways opened before noon, and some flights were starting to take off and arrive, said Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper.
"It was raining ice," Cooper said. "If it were just snow, we would have been happy. Ice is just much more complex. It's just something we don't normally see."
Cooper said the airport had 60,000 gallons of runway and ramp de-icer on hand. It goes through around 38,000 in a normal winter.
What happens Friday will depend on the weather. Airlines continued canceling flights Thursday afternoon, however. The weather affected some international flights including Delta/KLM's afternoon nonstop to Amsterdam.
Alaska and Horizon Air, which handle about 50 percent of the flights in and out of Sea-Tac, canceled all flights until 10 a.m., except those between Seattle and Hawaii, the Midwest, East Coast and Mexico.
The airlines said they operated only four flights Thursday morning, and were working on a plan to dispatch another 25 by late afternoon, weather permitting. Alaska and Horizon normally operate 780 daily flights.
"Our focus is on Hawaii, Mexico, the Midwest and East Coast routes," said spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. These are long-haul routes to destinations where the airline operates fewer daily flights than it does in the Northwest.
Alaska urged passengers to check their flight status at www.alaskaair.com before leaving for the airport. Twitter updates are at @AlaskaAir.
Passengers booked on canceled flights can rebook and travel without change fees or apply for a refund of the unused portion of their ticket. Tickets must be exchanged and travel completed by Sunday.
Hoping to make it to Juneau to celebrate his dad's birthday, Joe Yurka of Irving Texas began his saga Wednesday when his original flight out of Dallas was canceled. He made it to Seattle last night, only to have two flights to Juneau canceled. After waiting in line hours to rebook, he was scheduled to go Juneau Thursday night. His advice: "Patience and a sense of humor. Bring them both."
Airlines canceled about 80 flights out of Sea-Tac Airport Wednesday, about 10 percent of the airport's daily flights, as weather across the Northwest hampered operations.
Alaska and Horizon Air Tuesday canceled 38 Wednesday flights to and from Seattle and Portland, and more on Wednesday.
"We are working to limit the impact on our remaining services, however delays are likely," the airlines said in a notice posted on Alaska Airlines' Facebook page.
If you're flying Thursday or later this week:
• If your flight is canceled, you will be offered a refund or a chance to reschedule, but don't expect the airline to pay for a hotel or meals. When it comes to delays or cancellations caused by mechanical problems, crew shortages, etc., airlines often will provide compensation, but not for weather problems.
• Plan to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight. The busiest time for departures is 6-8:30 a.m.
Seattle Times editor Jim Simon contributed to this report. Carol Pucci: email@example.com. On Twitter @carolpucci.