Dec 22, 2008

pdx/sea-tac airports:weather delays and cancellations

Unless you owned a snow machine, traveling in and out of the Portland OR or Seattle WA airports has been a virtual nightmare for the past three days. Flying out of the airport to Seattle, Alaska, Chicago, Boston, New Year or Florida...a near impossibility.

My family has now made two harrowing trips up the I-5 corridor trying to get to Pdx to attempt to make flights for their travel to Alaska and only my youngest daughter (who came up 'early' on the 19th) has had a scheduled flight go out.

My husband, daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all left Salem at 3:30 a.m. for a projected 9 a.m. departure time...allowing multiple hours for the usual 1 hour drive. With unbelievable black ice freeway conditions, four wheel drive, chains and a heavy pickup truck, they still had to stop 3 times to de-ice windshields and free up frozen windshield wipers and avoid multiple accidents, delays and snow covering inches of black ice.

After finally reaching Pdx, they discovered the entire airport was shut down for the 3rd day in a row and all flights in or out...cancelled. And yes, they did check the flights before leaving for the airport and the computer notices were not updated, nor did they received the request email or cell/text messages of cancellations as advertised online and in the news :(
After multiple phone conferences and warnings of an 8 hour re-scheduling line in the airport, they did call the 1-800 number for Alaska Air and talk to an airlines worker who was struggling to assist the multitudes of stranded passengers as she walked with communication devices in hand through the crowd.

My husband reported that every available surface was filled with sleeping, talking,or crying passengers. After several hours they snagged 4 available seats on future set on Christmas day and the other set for Dec. 26th which involved flying another 1,000 miles farther north of Juneau to Fairbanks, spending the night in the airport there, then heading south again to Juneau.

With 65,000 homes without electricity in Portland to Salem corridor, with massive traffic snarls, cancelled flights everywhere and all of us wanting to be 'home' for Christmas and with family, my family, my young nephew trying to get home for Christmas from Idaho, and hundreds of thousands of others ...are now having to just be hopeful that their next flights will magically open up, weather conditions drastically change and new possibilities exist for togetherness.
Meanwhile, I am here on Douglas Island, Alaska with my parents and my youngest daughter (who did make a flight) and many other family members who live in Douglas, Juneau or Anchorage and we will gather...with slightly different plans, a different outlook and more and bigger wishes for a Merry Christmas and A Happy Christmas Eve birthday for both myself and my sister-in-law.
shown above: news photo of travelors caught in weather and flight delays at pdx
additional flight talk and plus
'Fly talk' on why flights aren't going out is that it seems that while both airports do have de-icing equipment, both are low or totally out of the de-icing fluid which they usually stock for a week at a time. This weather has been going on for ten days or so across the U.S, and they haven't been able to get re-supplied. Airlines that have it, are hoarding it, and airlines that need large volumes (like pdx or sea) don't have enough to operate their schedules.
There may also be complications due to short supplies of runway anti-ice, which is scarce in North America due to a potash miners strike in Canada.


Quiltdivajulie said...

Take heart ~ it is happening elsewhere, too. One attorney's daughter had major issues flying from NYC to Memphis as did the brother of another attorney. The daughter managed to get on a plane and arrived roughly 18 hours later than planned (a 'minor' inconvenience in the scope of things, but not to hear her dad tell the story). The brother rented a car and slowly drove to an airport further south, then got a flight out from there.

Being together is so important that folks will go to extreme lengths to accomplish that goal ~ many blessings to your family as they work to reach Juneau!

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

Oh my, what an adventure! I hope they all make it there safely and swiftly.

Holly said...

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to you, Michele! I'm glad your youngest was able to get a flight. I'm hoping by this weekend we'll be enjoying weather in the 40's so things can get back to "normal" again. Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

Tanya said...

Oh dear. A few days have passed. I hope you all managed to get together! Wishing you'll find other things to be merry about this Christmas.
Your word verification says "blesse". My thoughts for you exactly.

Anonymous said...

hugs to you! Checking in with you. Kate

quiltmom anna said...

I hope that your family has arrived and that you enjoyed some wonderful times together.
Happy birthday to you too.
All the best in 2009,

mariah said...

I hope that her had nevertheless still some wonderful time together . Happy birthday.
The best in the Year 2009.

Maria from Pécs