Alaska Airlines cancels flights as pilots picket, affecting travelers through PDX

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 4:55 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - More than 15,000 Alaska Airlines passengers have to change their travel plans as the airline cancels flights due to a shortage of pilots.

Pilots were picketing in Portland, among other cities today, over contract negotiations, and travelers are really feeling the impact.

Robyn Dold’s father-in-law’s funeral is Saturday morning in Missouri. They found out only a month ago that he had terminal cancer with just weeks to live.

He passed away Tuesday and they immediately booked the best flight they could find.

“I woke up at 2:30 to get in the shower this morning and as I was drying my hair, I thought I’m gonna check my email, looked at my email as I was drying my hair and there it said your flight’s been canceled.”

They got on the phone and then spent hours in line at the airport talking to agents, who Dold said ultimately couldn’t rebook them on any flight that would get there in time, so they’re not going to make it.

“Heartbreaking for my husband especially,” she said. “His father is his very best friend and he was the best man in our wedding. He was just a man larger than life.”

As of 9 A.M. Friday, Alaska Airlines said it cancelled more than 120 flights, about 9% of its operations.

The airline said it’s connected to a shortage of pilots. Pilots at PDX and in other cities were picketing over contract negotiations.

“The three main items are job security, work rules and flexibility in our schedules,” Capt. Rob Kloft said.

Alaska said they offer those things including an average captain’s salary of $341,000 a year.

FOX 12 asked the pilots about the travelers.

“Sorry that they have to endure this, that the company did not plan ahead of time for their staffing,” Kloft said.

Some people got lucky with a rebook after their cancellation, like Pascal Bershee. She is headed to France where she’ll be an exchange student.

“Super grateful,” she said. “I was really nervous that I’d have to wait a couple days and I can’t because I start high school there.”

Dold wishes there could have been some forewarning this may happen.

“It would have been great honestly had we known this was a possibility so we could have made alternate plans earlier,” she said.