Travelers stranded at PDX on Christmas Eve due to canceled flights

The freezing rain eased off early Saturday, but airport travel issues persisted throughout the day. Alaska Airlines, in particular, has canceled dozens of flights.


At 12:00 p.m. Sunday, an Alaska Airlines representative confirmed to KGW that they had resumed operations in Portland. With some cancellations expected due to displaced aircraft and crew following Friday’s winter storm. They did not disclose information regarding the number of rebooked guests.

“During the holiday season, our flight loads are already high, so when we have to cancel flights due to freezing weather, it is very difficult to rebook our customers on another flight as our flights are already full. In in some cases, this results in a delay of several days to board another flight. We regularly post updates to our News & Stories and encourage customers to continue to check the status of their flight before leaving home. We do everything we can to ensure that our customers arrive at their destination safely and I sincerely apologize for the impacts this weather has had on vacation plans,” the Alaska Airlines representative said.

After days of frustration, delays and rescheduled flights, travelers to Portland International Airport encountered many of the same problems on Christmas Eve.

Although the wintry weather is on the way out, airlines have canceled or moved dozens of flights, some until after Christmas Day.

Among the airlines was Alaska Airlines, which announced Saturday morning that all major flights out of PDX had been canceled until Saturday midnight due to freezing rain conditions in Portland.

“This is crazy,” said Maria Brown, hoping to return home to Southern California. “It’s kind of like those Hallmark movies where you can’t come home for Christmas – that’s exactly it.”

Brown was in town to visit her daughter in Falls City.

“I left early because I heard the storm was coming. As I was leaving, Southwest decided to cancel my plane on Friday. I got on American Airlines and we sat on the runway for about half a minute. hour, and the pilot said… it’s never been this bad, I’m not leaving here.”

“We all jumped and had to get back in line. Now we can’t take off until Monday, Boxing Day, so we’re stuck here at the airport,” Brown said.

Travelers have spent hours queuing – not to get through security – but to rebook their canceled flights. McMinnville’s Mike Casner has had three canceled flights since arriving in Portland on Thursday. He finally got a new reservation for Christmas morning.

“I leave at 7 a.m.,” he said, “I want to see my grandchild. I don’t care about anything else.”

Sean and Jordan Capers attempted to rebook a same-day flight back to Seattle.

“It’s our first time,” Sean said, “Crazy new booking starts now.”

All of these delays and cancellations could be quite upsetting on Christmas Eve, but many navigated the chaos by taking it in stride.

“I think that’s what you have to do with vacation travel,” Jordan said, “but I will say trains can be a good option.”

“We are one of many things happening here, but today is a happy day for us,” said Kris Esau, who lives in Vancouver.

She met Kyra Gibbons and Patrice Johnson while queuing for Southwest Airlines two days ago. After their flights were cancelled, they started talking and decided they needed to go to a hotel.

“We’re too old to sleep on the floor!” Gibbons joked.

“She lives in Salem,” Esau said pointing to Johnson, “She wanted to drive home…so we’re like no, you’re coming with us. You’re coming with us.”

The strangers said they are now lifelong friends, after sharing an Airbnb for a few days. They told KGW that they are planning a meeting on the coast in the future.

A PDX spokesperson explained that crews continued to de-ice runways and the airfield as outside conditions warmed. They encourage everyone to check with their airlines and arrive at least two hours before the flight takes off.

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