Alaska Airlines Cancels Flights Due To Extreme Wildfire Smoke

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Wildfires have ravaged the US west coast. From California and north through to Washington State, extreme heat and dry conditions have led to large parts of forest catching fire. One consequence is the presence of large amounts of thick smoke covering the region. As a result of these air conditions, Alaska Airlines has temporarily suspended all flights to and from Portland and Spokane airports. The decision came into effect on Monday, September 14th, at 15:00 Pacific Daylight Time.

Alaska Airlines
The Pacific Northwest has been experiencing intense wildfires and hazardous air quality. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Temporary suspension of flights for Portland and Spokane

The flight suspension by Alaska Airlines covers two Pacific Northwest airports: Portland (Oregon) and Spokane (Washington). All Alaska Airlines flights to and from the airports were suspended from 15:00 on September 14th to 15:00 today – September 15th. Guests of the carrier have been able to change or cancel their flights free of charge due to the circumstances.

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pdx and geg on map
The Alaska Airlines suspension affects flights to and from Portland and Spokane airports. Photo: GCMap.com

The suspension applies to flights operated by Alaska Airlines, along with its regional carrier Horizon Air. The airline reports that this amounts to dozens of flights in Portland and Spokane for the 24-hour period.

Flights by Alaska and Horizon have also canceled flights at smaller airports due to fire and smoke. These include flights in and out of Eugene, Medford and Redmond/Bend in Oregon, and Pasco and Walla Walla in Washington.

Simple Flying asked the airline how many flights specifically have been canceled. At the time of publication, the carrier has yet to respond to our request.

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Thick smoke will drastically decrease visibility and can make landing difficult. Photo: Getty Images

Forest fires across the West Coast

Across the US West coast, fires have been creating thick smoke and haze. This has resulted in very poor air quality conditions in the Portland and Spokane areas.

“We made the difficult decision to stop our operation so that our employees and guests can remain safe,” the airline states in its announcement.

The airline adds that improving weather conditions in the coming days will possibly dissipate smoke at the airports of Portland and Spokane. “However, other airports in the West could be impacted by drifting smoke.”

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Not the first time for Alaska Airlines

This is something Alaska Airlines has had to deal with before. Last year, the airline’s operations were also impacted due to fires. At the end of October 2019, the Charles M. Schultz-Sonoma County (STS) Airport in Santa Rosa halted commercial air service due to the nearby Kincade fire.

In fact, Alaska Airlines temporarily suspended all of its 18 daily inbound and outbound flights for about three days. This suspension included nonstop service between Santa Rosa and five destinations: Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.

In late October of 2019, wildfires halted activity at the Charles M. Schultz-Sonoma County (STS) Airport in Santa Rosa due to the nearby Kincade fire. Photo: Alaska Airlines

It’s an unfortunate situation, but hopefully, the weather will change and result in more favorable conditions for fighting fires and slowing their spread.

Has your travel been affected by the intense wildfires across the West Coast? Please share your experiences with us in the comments.

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