Holiday travelers faced with long lines after weather, security delays

Dec 22, 2022, 8:08 AM | Updated: 10:34 am
Photo from Sam Campbell

Travelers ran into lines of more than an hour wait time at SEA security checkpoints Thursday morning, with holiday travel stacking up due to hundreds of flight cancellations and delays due to frosty weather since Sunday.

A Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesperson told KIRO Newsradio the delay was also due to a “security breach” at the airport around 6 a.m. The delay shut down security checkpoints for about 15 minutes.

Hundreds of flights canceled out of Sea-Tac due to snow

Sea-Tac officials later clarified that the delay was not caused by any serious security threat, but rather due to a confused passenger who did not have a proper ID.

The spokesperson did not provide details on what happened but said the breach lasted for 12 minutes, which meant all of the airport’s security checkpoint operations had to cease temporarily.

Some security checkpoints are currently experiencing 75+ minute wait times and lines have stretched into the parking garage.

Sea-Tac checkpoints are back up and running to get people through checkpoints as quickly and safely as possible.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 381 domestic flights were delayed and 53 were canceled, according to FlightAware, an online tracker, and there are 77 delays and 29 cancellations so far Thursday.

Because SEA has a small footprint by acreage compared to other major airports, it doesn’t take long for traffic to back up as planes wait for de-icing.

Alaska officials canceled a hundred flights in advance to thin the schedule and relieve some pressure. Alerting passengers in advance about the cancellations also kept them from coming to the airport at all, Alaska Airlines said in their blog post.

“In order to reduce traffic jams, we need to proactively cancel flights from our schedule so we can keep as many aircraft moving as possible,” the post read.

“If we need to cancel flights, we try and let impacted guests know as early as possible. This means it could look clear and beautiful outside, but your flight tomorrow may have been canceled,” the post continued.

The deep freeze will continue, with Thursday night and Friday being the messy transition period back to milder wet weather.

The transition will involve snow, then areas of freezing rain before evolving to plain old rain later on Friday. Travel during this period of time is not recommended.

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Holiday travelers faced with long lines after weather, security delays