SEATTLE - It was an unwelcome Easter surprise for some flying on Sunday, as dozens of Alaska Airlines flights were either canceled or delayed at Sea-Tac International Airport due to ongoing pilot shortages.
The airline said it is letting travelers know as soon as possible if their flights are impacted and trying to get them rebooked.
Whether people were flying for Easter, spring break or a vacation, those we talked with said word of travel troubles kept them on their toes.
"We super stressed about leaving because of the cancellations; like, every day we were checking making sure there weren't any issues," Shelby Herrmann said.
Herrmann and her husband just got back to Washington after a cruise vacation.
They were adamant about making sure everything was smooth sailing as Alaska Airlines flight cancellations have tallied up.
"My husband actually called Alaska before we left to make sure what was going on, to see if we needed to change. They said they were canceling three days in advance and would let us know and that they would rebook us through a different airline if necessary," Herrmann said.
On Easter Sunday before noon, at least 36 Alaska Airlines flights were canceled and 11 delayed, according to FlightAware.com.
Mary Hiserman hoped there would be no issue getting back to California after visiting her son at UW.
"The planes have been packed, and they've been asking for people, you know, if they want to, go at another time. But, we've been fine. I hope I'm not regretting saying that, but we've been okay," she said.
The airline said the primary cause of cancellations is a delay in pilots graduating training.
They provided FOX 13 News with this updated statement:
"As we communicated earlier this month, we continue to adjust our operating schedule. The primary cause of our cancellations is a delay in pilots graduating training, which were canceled or delayed due to student or trainer illness during the Omicron surge and winter storms. We’re focused on ensuring both excellent pilot training and flying capacity that matches crew availability. We’ll continue to do everything we can to minimize disruptions to the travel plans of our guests, but it will take some time to fully work through this challenge.
We let guests know as soon as possible if their itinerary is impacted by schedule adjustments, and have been successful in reaccommodating a majority of our guests. We encourage impacted guests to use the unique phone number provided to support them in managing reaccomodations, which does not have any wait time. We apologize to our guests who’ve had their flights cancelled as we continue work to get back to consistent and reliable operations."
Alaska Airlines pilots have picketed across the country saying they're overworked and underpaid. They've pushed for a better contract for nearly three years.
The Air Line Pilots Association said negotiations came to a standstill last week.
They have a three-day meeting set for this week to talk about the future, according to a spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Herrmanns can finally let out a sigh of relief as they've dodged cancellations this time.
"Today, we were less worried and, actually, didn't even check until we checked in for our flights from the hotel at 2 a.m.," Herrmann said.
Her husband said they would've been stuck in California if there'd been a cancellation impacting them.
"Yeah. Yeah, we would've been stuck there, but everything was fine," she said.
The Air Line Pilots Association said Delta Airlines pilots plan to picket on Tuesday, saying they, too, are overworked and need more flexible schedules.
The association said Alaska pilots will be there alongside Delta pilots to support them.
Delta Airlines shared this statement with FOX 13 News:
"This informational exercise by some of our off-duty pilots will not disrupt our operation for our customers. We continuously evaluate our staffing models and plan ahead so that we can recover quickly when unforeseen circumstances arise, and the resilience of the Delta people is unmatched in that regard. Pilot schedules remain in line with all requirements set by the FAA as well as those outlined in our pilot contract. All of our people, including our pilots, are working hard to restore our airline and deliver for our customers as we emerge from the pandemic. We are grateful for and proud of their efforts."
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