SEATAC, Wash. - Hundreds of flights have been delayed and canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport this week, and the concern is this next snow storm will create even more issues for travelers.
As of 9:33 pm, more than 200 fights were canceled at SEA with the last 24 hours, according to FlightAware.
The cause is a perfect storm of issues.
Increasing COVID cases are impacting staffing numbers. The previous storm is still affecting airlines, and the holidays are usually one of the busiest times of year for travel. All of these variables are causing headaches at the terminal.
"It was a mad dash to get a new flight. There were no flights," said Tammy Gibson.
Gibson found out her flight to Arizona was canceled at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. She says she immediately went to work to find a new option.
"It’s a panic. And then you go online, and then they want you to reschedule. I supposed to fly on a different airline. And I was like, ‘no I’m not going to try and wait and get squeezed into different flights.’ So, I just canceled it and bought a new flight," she said.
Gibson is one of the lucky ones who found a new flight, because hundreds of other people have been stranded for days.
Airport officials say they have handed out hundreds of blankets to people who are sleeping in the airport.
The airport is also littered with abandoned luggage.
SEA staff say the issues is people have left their checked bags at the airport after finding out their flights were canceled. SEA official ask travelers to please wait for their luggage.
Travelers are also facing issues outside the airport.
FOX 13 News spoke with several hotels around the airport who tell us they are completely booked with people seeking refuge after flight cancelations.
Also, ride-shares like Lyft and Uber are nearly twice the normal rates. Spokespeople for the companies tell FOX 13 News a big reason for these higher prices is limited numbers of drivers.
And now, a second round of snow is falling, causing concerns for what this snow will do to an already difficult situation.
Snow started falling at the airport around 9 p.m., and the winter weather is expected to continue into Thursday. The airport expects 2-3 inches to accumulate.
SEA officials say crews work around the clock to clear snow and ice from the runways and ramp areas, and airlines are responsible for de-icing their planes.
The airport also designated an off-gate area for planes to de-ice, which can fit up to four narrow-body aircraft at a time, as well as other locations around the airport which can accommodate up to six aircraft.
"There is nothing we can say that will give travelers back lost time or cancelled plans," said Sea-Tac spokesperson Kate Hudson. "We understand it is aggravating, especially at a time when we’ve already seen so many plans affected now and in the last year."
Some airlines are asking travelers to reschedule their flights, if they do not need to leave immediately.
SEA staff say there is not much that can be done to address these current issues. They say they are hopeful the warm weather coming this weekend will help return things to normal.
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