A Seattle Debacle but Coast Starlight Saves the Day

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ScottR

Service Attendant
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
162
Location
Monterey
I went to the Seattle airport Sunday for my flight back to San Fransisco only to be met by a complete zoo. So many folks trying to get home, flights cancelled, delayed, or worst of all, to be determined. I have read since it was the worst airport in the world to be in on that day in terms of cancellations.

My flight was delayed, then cancelled, then rescheduled to the next day.

I was sitting in the airport lounge figuring how to get back home when I realized I could just take the Coast Starlight back In the morning. I mentioned it to several others in the same pickle, and they all got excited and were completely unaware that was an option. So we all booked the Coast Starlight southbound and everyone got home at about the same time they would have, with a lunch and dinner included!

It was a great trip with a good crew, clean train, great food, glorious scenery going over the mountain passes in Oregon, and only about 40% full

I made a few new friends who now know Amtrak. So perhaps a “Skip the stress…Take the Train” banner in a few of the major airports?
 
Last edited:

BCL

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
4,075
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Some of the cancellations were due to a shortage of employees, but quite a few were equipment issues where maybe a plane coming from Chicago is snowed in. How that affect SeaTac seemed to be somewhat random, even though they had the most delays and cancellations.

So how did everyone get there? I'm sure that many rented cars and relied on car rental return as their airport transportation. Did the airlines give everyone a chance to cancel? One of the main problems with trying play catchup is that there might be limited capacity to make it up the next day. I'd think that giving passengers the option to cancel with a full refund might even be appealing if that means fewer passengers trying to crowd into the flights the next day or two.
 

ScottR

Service Attendant
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
162
Location
Monterey
Well, in my case I was to take the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, but she was cancelled. I was looking forward to the great white north.

ok…So then I was excited I would get to see the biggest ever New Year’s Eve fireworks in Chicago, which went up into the Fog at about 50 feet, so some pretty colored clouds..but that was a bummer.

Then I found one flight and one flight only to Seattle that left at 9.00 am from ORD to SEA, before the blizzard hit Chicago, so I took that. It was on time and way over my budget but got me to Seattle

Then got to Seattle with a booked flight home to SFO that as scheduled was delayed, then cancelled

I’ll be honest I book all my trips and schedule to the hour…it’s just my nature. Everything went wrong on this trip from the very beginning…

it’s one of the most fun trips I’ve ever done. No connections were made as scheduled…not a single one. We made do. Lesson learned is I should plan less.
 

BCL

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
4,075
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Well, there had to be an airport somewhere that had the most delays and cancellations.

I would have thought that the worst situation would be at an airport that was buried in snow.

I've been delayed because our plane hadn't gotten there. I was on my way to Vegas to meet up with my family coming from another airport via a different airline. I was bummed when my flight was delayed about an hour, but then I got to Vegas and found out that my family's flight was delayed about 8 hours when it was scheduled to arrive before mine.

I'm sure Amtrak has some issues with equipment, but I thought that often that just meant that they borrow a locomotive from Union Pacific.
 

ScottR

Service Attendant
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
162
Location
Monterey
Yes like that! No room on the plane…ride the train!
ease your brain, ride the train!….annnd etc.

I am a great fan of Amtrak and it always amazes me that most of my family and friends do not know it even exists and, once they experience it, become fervent believers! I’ve got a whole tribe now wondering if we can rent a whole car and take down the partitions…which I think can be done but would probably cost a small fortune. Anyone have insight on that?
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,217
Some of the cancellations were due to a shortage of employees, but quite a few were equipment issues where maybe a plane coming from Chicago is snowed in. How that affect SeaTac seemed to be somewhat random, even though they had the most delays and cancellations.
Not random at all, actually. Just after Christmas, Seattle got 9 inches of snow followed by a week of bitter cold where the temperature never got above freezing. (And Seattle generally gets little snow, so they have a minimal number of plows.) So the roads in the metro area were largely impassible for more than a week, so even once the airport had cleared runways, airport and airline staff couldn't get to the airport. (The high cost of housing in the Seattle area means that many airport and airline employees end up living a fair distance from work, which obviously doesn't help.) Add in a surging COVID rate and stranded holiday travelers still trying to get home, and you had the perfect storm for the worse airport delays in the world.
 

BCL

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
4,075
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Well having flown Emirates a few times that is indeed one plane I’d take over a train! But if you thought bedrooms were high bucket 😮

Depends on what class. It's great if you've got A380 lounge access.



But they make it on the back end with some of the most packed economy seating anywhere.

One version of Emirates A380 aircraft crams in 557 economy seats in a total of 88 rows, with a 3-4-3 (ten-across) configuration, some of which are just 17.5 inches wide.​
But at least the fuselage of the A380 is wider than the shell of the ubiquitous Emirates 777 airplanes, also configured with ten seats across in sardine class. Somehow Emirates has squeezed in as many as 385 seats on their 777s, each one a hip-crunching 17 inches wide.​
 

Chris I

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
142
Location
Portland, OR
All my many times in Seattle did not ever see this kind of snow. Portland OR as well.
We get storms like this about every 5 years. It's a lot of fun for those of us who go skiing in the mountains regularly, and thus have proper snow tires on in the winter. I've also enjoyed skiing around my neighborhood in the past (both downhill and cross country). About 80% of the city has no idea what they are doing, however. If the storms hit during a weekday, the traffic jams can be epic. The snow usually comes down wet, or it's just freezing rain.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,799
Location
Denver
We get storms like this about every 5 years. It's a lot of fun for those of us who go skiing in the mountains regularly, and thus have proper snow tires on in the winter. I've also enjoyed skiing around my neighborhood in the past (both downhill and cross country). About 80% of the city has no idea what they are doing, however. If the storms hit during a weekday, the traffic jams can be epic. The snow usually comes down wet, or it's just freezing rain.
Just in case... U.S. National Bank had an army cot set up in the basement of their Portland head office. A junior management person would spend the night there in a chance of an ice storm so that the bank could open on time the next morning.

On January 3, 1969, my dad was set to drive me to the Vancouver SP&S station for Pool Train 407. Even with a 4WD truck and years of driving experience we couldn't make it in time, so he diverted to the Vancouver Greyhound station, and I caught the all-stops local on the old Pacific Highway through LaCenter. Thirty miles north of Portland, the road was bare, and we got to Fort Lewis on time. The Columbia Gorge was acting like a giant funnel of cold air, meeting wet air from the Pacific over the Portland area.

For people unfamiliar with the region, sometimes Seattle and Portland have identical weather and sometimes they're quite different.
 
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