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Hurricane leads to more than 17,000 canceled flights

Eric Christopher Adams,Laurel Andrews
iStock

Alaska Airlines issues updated travel cancellations due to Hurricane Sandy: 10 more flights cancelled, according to Marianne Lindsey, who works for Alaska Air.

Here's a breakdown so far of the cancellations per day:

Sunday - eight flights canceled
Monday - all 20 flights canceled
Tuesday - nine flights canceled
Wednesday - so far one flight canceled (EWR-SEA) 

Regularly scheduled service was suspended at least through Tuesday night to Boston (BOS), Philadelphia (PHL), Newark, N.J. (EWR) and the Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C.  

Alaska Airlines operates 20 daily flights to these four airports nearby Hurricane Sandy's Newark landfall. They are serviced from Alaska's West Coast hubs in Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle:. 

  • DCA - four flights in and four flights out a day (SEA, PDX, LAX)
  • EWR - two flights in and two out a day (SEA)
  • PHL - one flight in and out a day (SEA)
  • BOS - three flights in and three flights out a day (2 SEA, 1 PDX)

No other Alaska Airlines flights were likely to be canceled by the mega-storm, Lindsey said. Other major Anchorage air carriers – United Airlines, Delta Airlines and USAirways among them -- all operate extensive East Coast service and were bracing for extensive cancellations.

Michael Thomas, spokesperson for Delta Airlines, told Alaska Dispatch that as of Tuesday afternoon, all Delta is operating out of all east coast airports except John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA) in New York, and Newark (EWR), New Jersey.

Limited Delta flights to and from LaGuardia and Newark will resume Wednesday evening, with hopes that a Thursday morning “restart” will get the airline flight schedule back on track, Thomas said.

At JFK, conditions are “a bit better,” and limited domestic flights will resume Wednesday afternoon.

All told, Delta has canceled around 3,000 flights due to Hurricane Sandy from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday. Delta has issued a change-fee waiver for folks impacted by the storm.

Thomas refers people to Delta’s website to find the most current update on their flight status.

U.S. Airways spokesperson Todd Lehmacher told Alaska Dispatch that the airline will resume operations at all airports on Wednesday except JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Islip (ISP) in New York. The airline canceled approximately half of all their flights on Tuesday, and around 340 are canceled on Wednesday. Lehmacher refers travelers to U.S. Airways' website for the most current updates.

How Sandy will impact Alaskans’ air travel

Airplane groundings in Chicago or canceled flights at Denver International Airport can result in delayed outbound service from Anchorage or possibly even flight service to Fairbanks.

O’Hare and Denver joined other metro airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas-Fort Worth on a list of cities far removed from the hurricane but nonetheless bearing its brunt. More than 17,000 flights nationwide had been canceled Tuesday due to the hurricane. More will follow. 

Alaska Airlines would likely be the least impacted of the major airlines serving the 49th state, Anchorage-based travel agent Scott McMurren said. USAirways, United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines -- Hurricane Sandy will hit those airlines, their employees and their passengers hard.

How to travel in a hurricane

What can travelers do, now, to mitigate the damage? McMurren offers a few tips for unavoidable hurricane travel:

  • Sign up for text message alerts from the air carrier that arranged your flight. Make your smartphone smarter. Track your flight; every major carrier offers up-to-the-minute alerts for travelers.
  • Watch the weather. If you're heading to Pittsburgh, Penn., Detroit, Buffalo, N.Y., or even Toledo, Kan., anytime soon, guess what? You're probably not. Even airline employees are stuck across the country.
  • Prepare like you're heading for a five-day backcountry backpacking trip. Travel light. No accessorizing this week. Forego the checked baggage and at least you'll be able to maintain control over your attire, even if Hurricane Sandy has busted up your plans of an autumn escape from the frigid North.

Margaret Tyler, an Anchorage airport employee, confirmed that fallout was expected, but couldn't predict how extensive the disruption or how many passengers would be affected. But she expected some impatience among those waiting on planes to arrive.

“No major carrier’s flights originate in Alaska. No planes start here," she said.

Hurricane Sandy will deliver rainfall and impact travel likely through Friday, according to the Portland flight tracking firm FlightStats. Find out your flight's status here.

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