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Ice storm shutters Alaska Airlines Seattle hub

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Unusual winter weather all but closed Alaska Airlines' main Seattle/Tacoma hub for much of the day Thursday. Freezing rain and snow forced the airline to cancel 310 flights to and from the city by the evening, affecting 29,000 passengers. Only 15 of Alaska's 114 daily departures, and a single flight operated by subsidiary Horizon Air had departed Seattle by that time. As of mid-evening, both carriers had announced plans to operate 20 flights each from Seattle, although those plans were subject to a further clearing of the weather conditions that disrupted operations throughout the day.

In response, the airline has set up additional workstations and telephones at the terminal, allowing more Customer Service Agents to rebook passengers whose travel plans were affected by the cancellation. The airline is urging passengers to check the status of their flight before departing for the airport, as more cancellations are possible. The airline has also staffed additional headcount at their reservations centers to handle passenger rebooking, and as many as 120 Alaska/Horizon employees are being housed in airport hotels to ensure they are able to get to work during the storm. The airline noted that because of the severity of the icing on the aircraft, it was taking up to four times longer than normal to deice aircraft for departure.

Alaska is waiving change fees for passengers affected by the weather.

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