Massive cancellations continue at Portland International Airport the day before Christmas, even as the ice begins to melt, following an ice storm that has already canceled thousands of flights.
Alaska Airlines has canceled all remaining mainline flights departing from Portland on Saturday, and by noon had canceled a total of 300 flights in the Pacific Northwest, spokesperson Bobby Egan said. Some regional flights are still scheduled to take off.
Alaska Airlines is Portland’s largest airline by passenger numbers, but other airlines could follow.
“Mother Nature brought us this ice storm,” said Egan. “You can plan everything, but this certainly affected us and unfortunately our guests. It’s just heartbreaking.”
Freezing rain on Friday night combined with rain on Saturday morning made it difficult to remove ice from the ramps at the airport, Egan said, leaving vehicles carrying passengers and luggage near the plane endangered. Airlines are also struggling to de-icing their planes.
Egan expects a delay to Christmas and possibly early next week, as many planes and crews are out of position due to storms.
“All airlines face this,” Egan said. “It’s a really difficult time because everyone is struggling to get where they need to go safely.”
As of 5:30 p.m., Portland’s airport showed 81 canceled flights and 59 canceled arrivals in its departure schedule, with fewer cancellations in the evening. Many flights scheduled to take off have been delayed.
Egan said that as holiday season flights fill up, people find it harder to reschedule canceled travel plans. There are only a few seats available for the next few days. She advised people to reassess whether they should walk away.
Those flying through Alaska can change flights without fees or cancel flights and receive a full refund, Egan said.
Friday morning’s ice and snow clogged traffic on Portland’s streets, canceling 168 flights in what was expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the year. Earlier this month, the AAA estimated that his 7.2 million Americans would fly during the holidays.
Extreme winter weather has canceled flights across the country and upended vacation plans for thousands.
PDX spokesperson Kelly Bosnall said the airport is working to clear ice and expects improvements to continue as temperatures rise. Those departing from PDX should verify their flight status before arriving at the airport.
– Austin de Dios; email@example.com@austindedios; (503) 319-9744