Alaska airports see some flight cancellations after fuselage blowout on Alaska Airlines plane

A small number of Alaska Airlines flights have been canceled in Alaska after the company experienced a fuselage blowout on Friday on a flight leaving Portland that prompted U.S. regulators to ground most Boeing 737 MAX 9 models nationally.

Alaska Airlines often has used the MAX 9 in Alaska for flights such as those linking Seattle with Anchorage and Fairbanks, as well as between Anchorage and Hawaii, said Scott McMurren, a transportation and hospitality consultant in Alaska who writes for the Anchorage Daily News and owns alaskatravelgram.com.

Five Alaska Airlines flights to and from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport were canceled on Monday shortly after noon, while seven flights were listed as delayed, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

Those numbers could change as the day progresses, McMurren said.

In Fairbanks, Alaska Airlines canceled one flight and delayed four others, according to FlightAware, shortly after noon.

Nationally, Alaska Airlines operates 65 Max 9s, representing a sizable chunk of its overall fleet, McMurren said. But McMurren said Alaska Airlines does not use the MAX 9 models as commonly in Alaska as it does older jets, such as the Boeing 737-700, or the 737-800.

Still, pulling even a few planes out of the fleet serving Alaska can have a “ripple effect” for the airline’s operations in the state, as other models are rerouted to meet demand, McMurren said. And once travelers reach Seattle, they face potentially more delays or cancellations at the busy Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he said.


United Airlines also operates Max 9s, but the company has a tiny presence in Alaska in the dead of winter, McMurren said.

United Airlines on Monday announced that preliminary inspections of some of its MAX 9s had discovered “installation issues” on door plug panels, such as bolts in need of tightening, according to a statement from the company.

United and Alaska airlines use the door plugs in place of midcabin emergency exits on the MAX 9 model.

“These findings will be remedied by our Tech Ops team to safely return the aircraft to service,” United Airlines said.

More than 160 incoming and outgoing flights were canceled or delayed at the Sea-Tac airport on Monday because of the grounding requirements, The Seattle Times reported.

Overall, large numbers of flights nationally have been delayed or canceled after part of the wall of an Alaska Airlines MAX 9 blew away from the fuselage, on a flight out of Portland at 16,000 feet. The damage left a hole in the cabin and forced the plane to return to the airport.

The company in a statement early Monday said it was preparing to inspect the door plugs on the Max 9 fleet, and had canceled roughly 140 flights for the day due to the grounding.

Alaska Airlines said it’s “deeply sorry for the disruption the 737-9 MAX grounding has caused our guests,” in a post on X, formerly Twitter, over the weekend. “We expect the disruption to last through at least mid-week.”

United operates about 80 MAX 9s in its fleet.

As of Monday, United Airlines has canceled 200 MAX 9 flights, a United Airlines spokesperson said in an email.

“We expect significant cancellations on Tuesday as well,” the statement said. “We have been able to operate some planned flights by switching to other aircraft types, avoiding about 30 cancellations each on Monday and Tuesday.”

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.