A full Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage was canceled due to a mechanical error on Wednesday night, leaving close to 100 people looking for a place to stay in Bethel.
Passengers sat on the plane for about an hour while mechanics tried to restart the engine. Warren Jones, a resident of Quinhagak, told KYUK that there was a medical emergency during that time frame but was unable to give more details. Alaska Airlines’ station manager for Bethel, Michael Trulin, also declined to give details about the emergency, citing privacy needs.
Eventually, passengers were allowed to leave the plane and wait in the terminal building as the airline conducted repairs. But Jones ended up shelling out more than $300 for a room at the Alaska Inn, which he says that he split with a few other Quinhagak residents. He says that he also had to miss an important meeting in Anchorage on Thursday morning.
Alaska Airlines made the decision to cancel the flight at around 1 a.m., about four hours after the flight was scheduled to depart. It was 12:30 a.m. when Trulin started calling Bethel hotels for out-of-town passengers; he said that hotels were either fully booked or didn’t pick up the phone at that time.
Out-of-town passengers who didn’t book a room before 12:30 a.m. spent the night at the airport. Trulin stayed at the airport the entire night and made sure those passengers had blankets and breakfast.
Some passengers, like Jones, mentioned that Alaska Airlines didn't give vouchers for people to stay in hotel rooms. Trulin says that the airline would have had to reserve those rooms for the vouchers to be valid. Passengers who paid for hotel rooms out of pocket can can submit requests for reimbursement through the Alaska Airlines website or call its customer service number. Those reimbursements are only for non-Bethel residents.