Alaska Airlines cancels many flights because pilots picket

Friday's cancellations on West Coast flights were caused by pilots from Alaska Airlines who protested during a three-year-long impasse in contract negotiations.

Alaska Airlines cancels many flights because pilots picket

According to flight tracking website, more than 100 Alaska Airlines flights were cancelled by the airline. These included 66 in Seattle and 20 in Portland, Oregon. Anchorage, Alaska was also likely to experience flight cancellations. According to a union website, pilots were planning to rally and picket all these cities on Friday.

Pilots from the Air Lines Pilots Association protested in New York City last week against the airline's Investor Relations Day, a precursor to Friday's picket.

These bargaining actions are happening as air travel recovers to pre-pandemic levels, and as demand surges as more Americans take long-awaited vacations. Social media users vented their frustrations about poor vacation plans. They reported that it took up to 10 hours to reach an airline representative to discuss rescheduling. Many stated that they could not fly out for more than a day.

Robyn Dold of Battle Ground (Washington) had planned to fly Friday to Missouri with her husband and daughter, as well as her son-in law, to attend the funeral of her father-in–law. Six hours before their departure, the family received an email from Alaska that informed them that their flight had been cancelled.

Dold spent hours on Friday calling Alaska Airlines, then waiting in line at Portland International Airport. Only to find out that Alaska couldn't get them to the funeral on schedule -- or to a city within 10 hour driving distance.

She said that she would go along with the flow if it were a vacation. But, this is something that must be done by a certain date and it's very heartbreaking." My husband is absolutely beside himself. His father was his best friend.

Dold, who was supposed to give the eulogy at the funeral, will instead be able to watch it live from her home via a one-way stream with her husband, she stated.

"What really bothers me, honestly, is the fact that we were not informed ahead of time about this possibility." If they had stated, "Hey, you remember, the pilots might strike April 1," we could have made arrangements before that time." Dold said she wasn't familiar enough with the contract negotiations to make a decision on the strike. "That's the most disappointing thing."

The airline and pilots have been engaged in contract negotiations for almost three years. Now, the two sides are at an impasse.

According to the union, Alaska Airlines failed to adequately prepare for the return of air travel following the pandemic. They also didn't make the necessary efforts to retain and attract pilots when demand rebounded. It stated that issues such as job security, work rules, and quality-of life provisions that allow flexibility and reasonable schedules are still needed. The current pilot contract is also far behind comparable ones in many key sections.

Alaska Airlines stated Friday that while it respects the rights of its pilots to picket and values them, it needs to reach a deal that will allow it to continue growing and profiting. It stated in a statement that Alaska Airlines is trying to recover $2.3Billion in losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the airline, it offers competitive salaries to its pilots. According to the airline, an Alaska Airlines Captain's average annual salary is $341,000.