You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Wintry weather causing flight cancellations, delays to pile up at Sea-Tac

KIRO Seattle 12/21/2022 Graham Johnson, KIRO 7 News Staff

Wintry weather in Washington and around the country is already hitting holiday air travel hard. Flight cancellations are starting to pile up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

By Tuesday night, FlightAware reported 436 delays and 214 cancellations.

>> See live flight delays, cancellations from FlightAware

Alaska Airlines officials said 100 of those flights were precanceled to avoid backups caused by the aircraft de-icing process.

The airline and airport officials showed reporters a de-icing station near the taxiway, which is designed to supplement de-icing at the gates.

Because SEA has a small footprint by acreage compared to other major airports, it doesn’t take long for traffic to back up as planes wait for de-icing.

Alaska officials canceled the hundred flights in advance to thin the schedule and relieve some pressure. Alerting passengers in advance about the cancellations also kept them from coming to the airport at all.

KIRO 7 asked Celley Buchanan, a vice president at Alaska Airlines, about getting holiday travelers on new flights.

“The flights are full, I will be transparent with you,” Buchanan said. “But we are working to rebook our guests. Based on the canceled flights yesterday, we rebooked about 70% of those guests and we’ll continue to rebook them based upon their individual needs.”

Despite the forecast of a few inches of snow on the ground by morning, SEA only saw rain until about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Alaska Airlines leaders say managers start making decisions 72 hours in advance of snow in the forecast.

This time, because of the low confidence in the accuracy of the forecast, they only canceled about 25% of the flights they were considering canceling.

Airline officials expect travel on Wednesday to be smoother, but are carefully watching the Seattle forecast for Thursday and Friday.

Shortly before noon Wednesday, cancellations were down to 49 but delays spiked to 234.

Mercer Island woman Miri Cypers was traveling from SeaTac to Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“We are looking forward to being there, but maybe not the adventure of traveling,” she said. “We were worried about some of the delays, but fortunately, we’re just a little delayed and not too badly.”

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon