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Stranded travelers try to get back to Seattle as flight cancellations continue

Flight delays and cancellations at SeaTac airport could continue through the weekend, as travelers stranded in other cities look for ways to return home.

SEATTLE — Flight delays and cancellations at Sea-Tac airport could continue through the weekend, airlines warned, as travelers stranded in other cities look for ways to return home.

“I start school and a new job on the 3rd, my sister’s got to work, my dad’s got to work, my mom’s got to work,” said Michael O’Hanlon, who is driving back to Renton from Houston.

He chose to make the roughly 45-hour drive in a rental car after his flight on the 29th was canceled the day before.

“They offered to rebook us, but it wasn’t within like 3 or 4 days and we could drive up faster than that, so we were like let’s just drive,” he said during a stop just outside Los Angeles.

KING 5 Evening reporter Ellen Meny is stranded in Baltimore, where she's been trying to rebook a flight home to Seattle since her original flight was canceled on Tuesday.

“I, my mom, and my brother were all on hold with Alaska for like six hours straight. I'm pretty sure my brother called Alaska and then put the phone down and then tried to go to sleep,” she said.

Meny and O’Hanlon are among countless travelers caught in a storm of bad weather and staffing problems tied to COVID, which have caused hundreds of cancellations and delays at SeaTac airport, especially for Alaska Airlines customers.

There were more than 350 delayed flights at SeaTac, Tuesday, and more than 300 cancellations.

The disruptions could continue through the weekend.

“If you don’t need to travel before Jan. 2 and can extend your trip to a later date, we highly suggest adjusting your flights using our flexible travel policy,” Alaska Airlines said in a Thursday update.

Alaska said it's canceling flights to allow more time to de-ice aircraft, a critical task in freezing weather.

The airline said it reduced Sea-Tac departures by 20% and is trying to reposition aircraft to get operations back to normal.

“We deeply apologize for the impact all of this is having on our guests and are working hard to return to the level of service you know and expect from us, while operating safely,” Alaska said.

Meny is rebooked on a Saturday flight and hopes to be home soon.

“I keep on thinking if I can get to the West Coast, everything will be okay, I can find a way to Seattle, but I'm crossing my fingers for January 1st, that's for sure,” she said.

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