Passengers safe after Alaska Air flight leaving Ketchikan makes emergency descent

JUNEAU — A cabin depressurization warning triggered an emergency descent and rapid landing for an Alaska Airlines jet traveling from Ketchikan to Seattle on Tuesday night.

Flight 64, the evening “milk run” flight through Southeast Alaska that originates in Anchorage, was on the last leg of its journey when pilots were alerted to a possible problem with the air pressure within the plane’s passenger cabin. At the time, the plane — a Boeing 737-700 — was 41,000 feet above Vancouver Island, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.

Records indicate the pilots descended to 10,000 feet within eight minutes of the alarm. The flight continued at 10,000 feet and the pilots declared an emergency, allowing a speedy landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The flight ended up landing a quarter-hour earlier than scheduled.

An Alaska Airlines spokeswoman confirmed the incident but said pilots descended quickly enough that oxygen masks didn’t deploy aboard the aircraft. No passengers were injured.

The spokeswoman, who responded to questions by email, offered apologies to the passengers aboard the aircraft and said the plane will be removed from service.

She said she could not immediately confirm whether the pressurization warning was a false alarm or an actual cabin depressurization. That will be confirmed when the plane and its onboard data are fully inspected, she said.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.