Alaska flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport en route to Ontario International Airport when a door plug blew out of the plane on Jan. 5. AP News stated that it caused an emergency landing as well as the cancellation of hundreds of flights throughout the week. Students at Point Loma Nazarene University were scheduled to be back in school on Jan. 8; however, some did not make it in time.
The incident took place about 16,000 ft in the air, 20 minutes into the flight. All 171 passengers on the flight were required to put on their oxygen masks and prepare for an emergency landing.
According to Alaska Airlines News, Alaska Airlines claimed to have grounded all of their 737 Max 9 aircrafts voluntarily, however, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) grounded all 737 Max 9 aircrafts operated by U.S. Airlines or in U.S. territory. The FAA required immediate inspections before the aircrafts could return to flying. This affected hundreds of people, including a student from PLNU.
First-year psychology major Lea Davies-Kang was scheduled to return to San Diego on Jan. 8 from Seattle, Washington. Her flight was one of many canceled due to the recall of all Boeing 737 Max 9 planes.
“I had to come back on Tuesday night because my flight for Sunday got canceled but then the flight they rebooked me on for Monday also got canceled,” Davies-Kang said.
According to a video statement posted on the Alaska News Website with CEO of Alaska Airlines, Ben Minicucci, the 737 Max 9 is still on recall and they plan to cancel flights through Jan. 21. Minicucci said in a statement on Alaska Airlines news that they currently are canceling 110 to 150 flights a day.
The airline continues to hold a flexible travel policy in place that allows customers to change or cancel their flights for credit toward a future flight and aims to accommodate individuals whose flights were canceled, according to the Alaska Airlines website.
“Alaska Airlines was not very accommodating because so many flights were changed and delayed that there were so many people and complaints that they couldn’t do much for me,” Davies-Kang said. “I didn’t feel really nervous on the plane though because the accident seemed like a freak accident.”
An email was sent out by Alaska Airlines to those whose flights were canceled, containing an apology for any inconvenience, a priority phone number to contact and a message from the CEO.
Minicucci emphasized Alaska Airlines’ effort to ensure that the correct precautions are being taken before returning the Boeing 737-9 aircraft to flight. He said that the FAA has also issued an emergency airworthiness directive, requiring all aircrafts to receive special inspections.
“I am personally committed to doing everything we can to conduct this review in a timely and transparent way … We are working with Boeing and regulators to understand what occurred, and will share updates as more information is available. The NTSB is investigating this event and we will fully support their investigation.” said Minicucci in the email.
Davies-Kang’s mom, Supriya Kang, rebooked her flight and communicated with Alaska Airlines throughout the process.
“Rebooking the flight to San Diego this time was quite the chore,” Kang said. “I eventually decided to book Lea on an Embraer flight because I knew 737s wouldn’t be fixed overnight and I needed to get Lea safely and quickly back to school. However, Alaska has always been a pleasure to rebook with by phone, very nice employees.”
Director of communications at the San Diego International Airport Jonathan Heller clarified via email that the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority does not oversee the airlines.
“We’re a separate entity created to own and operate San Diego International Airport. As such, we serve as landlord for airlines who lease airport facilities to conduct their operations.”
Heller said that the recall resulted in a number of flight delays and cancellations; travelers can view flight status via the website san.org.
PLNU did not send out an email regarding this possible inconvenience for students; however, Davies-Kang said her professors were helpful and understanding.
“I was really upset, I had to miss the first day for all of my classes but it turned out good to have an extra two days with friends and family.”