LAX flight delays spill onto Seattle travelers
Some flights from Seattle delayed, but the major problem was at Los Angeles International Airport, where passengers and crews couldn’t get to terminals because of road closures.
Seattle Times travel staff
With the chaos at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) after the fatal shooting Friday of a TSA agent, flights from across the nation were diverted to other airports or delayed and canceled.
There were some delays for Seattle-LAX flights of Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and other carriers Friday morning, and Virgin canceled an afternoon flight from Seattle to LAX.
Confusion was rampant. The official LAX Twitter feed said at one point that the Federal Aviation Administration had issued a national ground-stop order, or hold, in effect for all Los Angeles-bound flights that had not yet departed their airports of origin. However, Alaska Airlines flights were still taking off from Seattle and being allowed to land at LAX, spokesman Paul McElroy said.
Passengers trying to get from Los Angeles to Seattle faced substantial delays. While some planes were still landing at LAX, the main airport road was closed much of the day. It reopened at 4 p.m., allowing departing passengers and airline crews to access the airport, though traffic was snarled at first.
Delays were expected for as many as seven Alaska flights scheduled to depart LAX Friday afternoon, said Alaska spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. That included two Seattle-bound flights.
Airport operations were far from normal most of Friday. But TSA screening resumed around 4 p.m. at the airport’s Terminal 6, where Alaska flights depart, so backlogs began to clear, McElroy said.
Passengers on affected flights were being contacted by email and phone, “and if necessary we will waive change fees and rebook those passengers on other flights,” said Egan.
Egan emphasized that the gates for Alaska and its subsidiary, Horizon Air, are not in the immediate vicinity of the shooting, which occurred in Terminal 3.
Some flights bound for LAX were being diverted to other airports, but none came to Seattle, said Sea-Tac Airport spokesman Perry Cooper. Flights would be sent to other airports in the Los Angeles area, said Cooper.
At Sea-Tac, there was no significant congestion because of the L.A. flight snarls, said Cooper. He urged all passengers to check with their airlines about delays before leaving for the airport.