Air travel

Jennifer Strachan

Most of the snow fell overnight while western Washington slept, and "the worst is over," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. The metropolitan area of Seattle saw ¾-inch to 3 inches of snow while areas north of the city saw more.

“But for most people, they’ve seen the bulk of what they’re going to get," said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

Air travelers, especially those on the West Coast, are facing major delays this week due to sequester-mandated employee furloughs.

As much as 10 percent of the 47,000 flight controllers and other Federal Aviation Administration workers were placed on leave Sunday, grounding a number of planes and delaying flights to and from Los Angeles, including at least six Alaska Airlines flights. 


According to an airport industry association, control towers at 14 small to medium sized airports around the Northwest will close on April 1 in response to automatic federal budget cuts: Four in Idaho and five each in Oregon and Washington. But regional airlines intend to keep flying to those cities they now serve.

Vacationers wanting to fly from the Seattle area to destinations such as Hawaii and Phoenix may soon have another option. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved commercial flights out of Paine Field, near Everett. It’s a proposal that’s been in the works for years.

Despite concern from some neighbors about noise and other environmental factors, the FAA issued a “finding of no significant impacts” for the proposal to allow commercial flights from Snohomish County airport.

A 3-year-old boy who refused to use his seatbelt never got off the ground when he and his father boarded an Alaska Airlines flight at an airport in Seattle.

Alaska Airlines tries do-it-yourself luggage tagging

May 28, 2012

Alaska Airlines is trying out a new luggage-tagging system at SeaTac Airport. It relies on customers using new kiosks to weigh their own bags and print out and attach labels.

Travelers still must drop off luggage with agents and show I.D. But airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the change should save some time. She says Alaska and its sister carrier Horizon tried out the system last year in Bend.

"We wanted to roll it out very slowly so that we could work out any kinks and basically interact with our customers and find out how they like it."

When the summer travel season begins, airline passengers typically brace for delays as vacationers fly in larger numbers and the inevitable weather-related disruptions occur.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the nationwide system of air traffic control, is hoping to make some of those delays a thing of the past. It's developing what it calls "Next Generation" technology. The NextGen program will modernize the air traffic control system, transforming it from radar to GPS-based technology.