Is Alaska Airlines Stranding People In The Arctic?

Is Alaska Airlines Stranding People In The Arctic?

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While Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle, the airline flies to some pretty cool destinations in Alaska. Arguably the coolest of those is Wiley Post–Will Rogers Memorial Airport (BRW), located in Utqiaġvik (otherwise known as Barrow). This is the northernmost airport in the United States, and it’s located 350 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Flying to this airport is certainly on my avgeek bucket list. Well, a reader had the same idea and is there at the moment, but things aren’t going so good…

Why people are getting stuck in Barrow, Alaska

Let me just share the email that reader Jim wrote me, because I think it’s pretty concise, given the situation:

I and three companions are in Barrow Alaska, stranded with I’m guessing close to a hundred other people.

On August 25th, we took a flight on Alaska Air from Anchorage to Barrow Alaska with the intention of returning to Anchorage today. Upon arrival in Barrow we discovered the flight we took yesterday was the first flight that had been able to land in Barrow for the last 3-4 days. Many people we talked with in the hotel have been stranded since Monday and informed us we had little chance of getting out today or even in the next few days! Upon further investigation with others in the hotel (including several military employees who are also stranded), we discovered the problem is twofold.

The airport runways are under construction and, as a result, the radar is out. This results in the necessity of having a much higher requirement for the cloud ceiling — 600 ft instead of the 200 usually required if all the ground equipment is functional. Last night, as the fog rolled in (as predicted by the Coast Guard employees stranded here), we realized we were in real trouble — we had planned a quick overnight trip, so we have no clothes and a limited supply of medicine. 

We began calling Alaska Airline this morning and spent several hours talking with various employees and supervisors who were sorry about “our weather problems,” claimed not to know anything about any radar problems, knew little to nothing about Barrow, Alaska where there are NO options for alternative travel, and advised us they would be working hard on getting people out. Currently there are no available flights to be booked until Monday the 29th, so they advised us to be wait listed on the next flight. They claim we cannot be wait listed and also be booked  (or protected) on a later flight. They had added a second flight today, but  both flights were cancelled. The planes never left Anchorage, although the weather cleared here in the late afternoon. We are wait listed on the one flight tomorrow.

Alaska Airline accepts no responsibility for the situation they have created in Barrow. Many tourists came here, as we did, for a quick overnight to see the Arctic Ocean. We are all missing many days of pre-booked and expensive excursions and accommodations. Had we been informed of the fact that no flights had landed for the past several days, and that radar problems combined with weather would likely result in delays returning we would never have left Anchorage. Had they provided this important information in a travel advisory we would have cancelled our tickets, more residents and workers who had a real need to be here could have come on the flight yesterday and we would not be stranded here in a long queue with other people, many of whom have been trying to get out since Monday. Lacking a travel advisory, they could have simply informed people of the situation at the airport yesterday.

In talking with Alaska Airlines, they either would not or could not see their responsibility in creating this situation. However, they are very much responsible. Months ago, knowing of weather issues in Alaska, and knowing jet service allows for flights with a lower ceiling we specifically booked tickets with Alaska Airlines. We had no knowledge of the radar problems and would not have come here if we had known. Alaska Airlines did not have any travel warnings nor did they communicate with us in any way. This is clearly in the realm of an equipment problem, of which they had full knowledge. Flights were cancelled the three days prior to us flying from Anchorage to Barrow a fact they would have had full knowledge of and yet provided no travel advisory.

Alaska Airlines’ Barrow operations are a mess

Alaska Airlines is the only airline to provide service to BRW, as the airline operates a once daily Boeing 737 flight from Anchorage. The flight covers a distance of 725 miles, and it seems that Alaska Airlines is really struggling to operate this flight regularly. Over the past two weeks (August 12 through August 26, 2022):

That’s not exactly a great track record. It’s pretty amazing to see how the flight has frequently taken off from Anchorage, made it almost all the way to Barrow, and then turned around. Clearly the airline hoped conditions would be okay, but then they deteriorated to the point that landing was no longer an option.

Flights to BRW keep returning to ANC

Is Alaska Airlines to blame here?

I wish I had good advice I could give to Jim, but with one daily flight to Barrow and lots of people stranded, there’s not really much room for creativity here. I share the frustration of those who are stranded in Barrow due to this.

A few thoughts:

  • It’s amazing how little information there is on the web about the construction work at the airport, and the impact that has on planes being able to land; admittedly this is a small airport with limited traffic, but still…
  • Having a bunch of people stranded in Barrow is complicated, since there’s very limited lodging, and there aren’t many ways out; then again, I suppose there aren’t many people arriving either, so there shouldn’t be much of a lodging shortage
  • Alaska Airlines absolutely should have some sort of a notice for passengers booked on this flight, warning them about the potential for getting stuck, so that passengers can reconsider travel while this work is ongoing

While Alaska Airlines isn’t at fault for the underlying issue, the airline needs to do more to communicate this situation to passengers, so that they can make informed decisions. This seems like one of those situations where there’s a breakdown in communication between those working in operations and those working in customer facing roles, because everyone would be better off if passengers were fully aware of what was going on, and could plan accordingly.

Now, to try to be constructive, a couple of important reminders for others who might find themselves in similar situations:

  • Even if you’re taking a one or two day trip, always plan for things to go wrong when it comes to bringing essentials like medicine (I know that can be tricky sometimes, but things go wrong with travel way too often, especially nowadays)
  • Almost every time I take a flight, I look at the recent Flightradar24 history; I do this primarily to see how reliably the flight has been operating lately, and looking at the history for this flight would have definitely raised some red flags

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines is the only airline serving the United States’ northernmost airport, which is pretty cool. However, the airport’s runway is currently being worked on, and as a result, the radar is allegedly out. This means that weather needs to be better than usual in order for planes to land. This is leading to major issues, and in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen several cancelations and diversions.

The issue is that there’s not much information out there about the runway work, and Alaska Airlines doesn’t do anything to inform passengers of these issues.

While the airline isn’t at fault for the issues, I absolutely think Alaska Airlines owes it to passengers to provide more warnings about the current situation. This way passengers can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to travel.

What do you make of this Alaska Airlines Barrow situation?

Conversations (134)
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  1. Brianne Guest

    I live in Barrow, AK and have since 2008. I will be honest, the fog issues we have been having are extremely rare. I have never seen fog this late or this much. We usually have similar problems, (though not days of cancellations) at the beginning of the summer. I have heard the runway issue and I have also heard that the problem is we have newer pilots due to the previous strike. More experienced...

    I live in Barrow, AK and have since 2008. I will be honest, the fog issues we have been having are extremely rare. I have never seen fog this late or this much. We usually have similar problems, (though not days of cancellations) at the beginning of the summer. I have heard the runway issue and I have also heard that the problem is we have newer pilots due to the previous strike. More experienced pilots might feel comfortable landing. Also, prepandemic, we used to have two flights, one in the morning and one at night. They have dropped us to one and have kept it. They have been kind trying to add an extra one when they can. Back in the day, I always made sure to book the evening flight because I knew the fog would always clear up by the afternoon and it would almost never be cancelled.

  2. Sue B Guest

    I lived in Juneau, nowhere near Utqiagvik, over 30 years ago and experienced weather with low visibility factors, causing flights to overhead several times a week. Technical upgrades to ground and flight equipment were made in the early 2000's I believe. My parents visiting Sitka for a "day trip" in July back then, were stranded for 2 days due to fog and low clouds that unexpectedly enveloped the area. The folks who live in Alaska...

    I lived in Juneau, nowhere near Utqiagvik, over 30 years ago and experienced weather with low visibility factors, causing flights to overhead several times a week. Technical upgrades to ground and flight equipment were made in the early 2000's I believe. My parents visiting Sitka for a "day trip" in July back then, were stranded for 2 days due to fog and low clouds that unexpectedly enveloped the area. The folks who live in Alaska small towns always "appreciate" the times when the pilots fly in when expectations are low. Many more people are thankful and dependent on the airlines for the transportation of supplies and commerce for their daily routines and livelihoods, rather than a few tourists or visitors who have their plans disrupted. Visitors must learn to R-E-L-A-X, prepare for the unexpected, and understand the remoteness of your destination.

  3. David Guest

    My failure to do due diligence when taking the road less traveled is always going to be someone else’s fault. Barrow has telephones and people who can and do communicate ground truth.

  4. Tom Guest

    We just did this trip in July Was suppose to spend 2 days in barrow but only got one. We flew all the way to barrow from anchorage could actually see barrow below us then we’re informed we couldn’t land went to Fairbanks to fuel up and back to anchorage.

  5. Kdot Guest

    I live in Barrow and most of us still call it Barrow. Get over yourselves.

  6. J&J Guest

    Weather is not any airlines fault. Construction at an airport is an airport port authority issue not the airlines fault.

    Yes, the airline should have gone above and beyond by providing the current situation but ultimately, the traveler needs to take the responsibility since they purchased the ticket. With all the different apps available for travelers to do the research with, throwing the blame off themselves is just not very mature. Frustration is understandable but...

    Weather is not any airlines fault. Construction at an airport is an airport port authority issue not the airlines fault.

    Yes, the airline should have gone above and beyond by providing the current situation but ultimately, the traveler needs to take the responsibility since they purchased the ticket. With all the different apps available for travelers to do the research with, throwing the blame off themselves is just not very mature. Frustration is understandable but todays society needs to grow up and take responsibility. Especially in the current travel environment.

  7. John F Guest

    As a resident of Utqiagvik, the noticeable difference in skill level between cargo pilots and PAX pilots is remarkably noticeable. Aside from the radar being out, we often have the pleasure of flying with ROTATIONAL pilots based out of Seattle who just want to mark this airport off of their fly-to list or are assigned this specfic detail. Cargo pilots however have potentially dedicated routes involving one or many difficult airports to set wheels down...

    As a resident of Utqiagvik, the noticeable difference in skill level between cargo pilots and PAX pilots is remarkably noticeable. Aside from the radar being out, we often have the pleasure of flying with ROTATIONAL pilots based out of Seattle who just want to mark this airport off of their fly-to list or are assigned this specfic detail. Cargo pilots however have potentially dedicated routes involving one or many difficult airports to set wheels down at giving them more of an advantage as to know what they're already dealing with. There's a lot more to be said involving Will Rogers/Wiley Post airport operations and procedures - but this short explanation covers a majority of the failed attempts.

  8. Cris Goldy Guest

    What do you expect? Your flying to the Arctic. I lived there for 5 years. When traveling in the Arctic you just learn to take it as it comes. The remote area does not have all the instant solutions of a large city. It is not the fault of the airline.

  9. Milton Torres Guest

    The problem in Barrow isn't the radar. The runway construction mentioned leaves only half of the runway, lengthwise, usable for landing. The width of the runway is 150 ft. normally, and now is only 75 ft. wide. It is the ILS (instrument landing system) that is the problem. The ILS is out of service until the construction is completed. It is the ILS that guides the airplanes in with better precision. That being said, this...

    The problem in Barrow isn't the radar. The runway construction mentioned leaves only half of the runway, lengthwise, usable for landing. The width of the runway is 150 ft. normally, and now is only 75 ft. wide. It is the ILS (instrument landing system) that is the problem. The ILS is out of service until the construction is completed. It is the ILS that guides the airplanes in with better precision. That being said, this started in May and will continue through October. As one of the air traffic controllers there, it has been a huge issue and a major safety concern, but we are doing our best!

  10. Kathy Guest

    Most people on this blog have missed the point here. I have flown a lot in Alaska. When flying on small aircraft, you are always warned by the pilots themselves that you are at the mercy of the weather. They will return for you at the scheduled time IF WEATHER ALLOWS, and that includes the weather where you are AND the weather where they are taking off. Jets fly in the dark, in the rain,...

    Most people on this blog have missed the point here. I have flown a lot in Alaska. When flying on small aircraft, you are always warned by the pilots themselves that you are at the mercy of the weather. They will return for you at the scheduled time IF WEATHER ALLOWS, and that includes the weather where you are AND the weather where they are taking off. Jets fly in the dark, in the rain, in fog, and in snowy blizzards because they have guidance instruments and do not depend on sight. If you are an airline flying jets to an airport that has runway construction that has affected your jets ability to fly in poor weather, you are obligated to inform your passengers of the altered situation so that they may make an informed decision on whether to fly. Being stranded waiting for hampered jet service is arguably more precarious than being stranded waiting for small plane service. Your small plane pilot is dedicated to getting you out as soon as the weather allows. In this case, Alaska airlines has one chance a day to successfully land in Barrow. If the weather is not good, the next chance is the next day. Small aircraft have all of the daylight hours to find a suitable weather window. Again, the airline has an obligation to fully inform their passengers of the current situation resulting from the runway construction work in Barrow. (PS—for those of you focused on the entitlement aspect of these tourists—most Alaska tourist who are here flying on small planes or jets are people with some resources —that doesn’t mean they deserve to be punished by being stranded in Barrow by Alaska Airlines!!)

  11. John Macmillan Guest

    Non story. Move along, nothing to see here

  12. Justin Guest

    As a layperson who is not in the industry, why would runway construction cause issues for the radar? I don't understand the connection between the two

    1. Eskimo Guest

      In Layman's term.
      It doesn't.

      You just read crap from another layperson who has no idea but very pissed off and wants to rant about it. Big words or something technical to blame and it makes the rant look legit. Other layperson bought the crap as facts.

    2. John Macmillan Guest

      It's probably not the radar but the ILS which will have to be recalibrated to the new runway

  13. mark Guest

    Just like Alaska Airlines didn't seem to have all the facts, neither does the author.
    They are not "extending the runway" they are resurfacing it. In doing this the normal ILS (instrument landing system) is down, not allowing the precession guidance needed for poor weather landings.
    The "radar" has nothing to do with this.

    Even with the ILS system working properly, Barrow gets "weathered out" a bunch during the summer. We refer...

    Just like Alaska Airlines didn't seem to have all the facts, neither does the author.
    They are not "extending the runway" they are resurfacing it. In doing this the normal ILS (instrument landing system) is down, not allowing the precession guidance needed for poor weather landings.
    The "radar" has nothing to do with this.

    Even with the ILS system working properly, Barrow gets "weathered out" a bunch during the summer. We refer it as the "fog monster". While I am not completely thrilled with how Alaska Airlines handles their end of this.. A lot of it falls on the shoulders of the traveler to do some research. I couldn't comprehend doing a 600 mile overnight "excursion" in the middle of my cruise to go look at the arctic ocean without thoroughly researching it.

  14. Patsy Aamodt Guest

    Alaska Airlines must do a remodel in their terminal. It’s the worst terminal. TSA takes a lot of space. A carousel is needed to handle baggage!

  15. iamhere Guest

    Agree with both sides. The people going to a place like that should have been more prepared. The airline should have been updating people properly too. There also could have been alternative arrangements out.

  16. David F Guest

    I was in Barrow in July. I spent 2 extra days there as flights were cancelled due to the reasons stated above. As an Alaskan who travels 100k plus miles in and out of state each year, the rule of thumb when going to Barrow, Kotzebue, Nome etc is to plan for the unexpected. I always pack extra as welland ensure that I have funds to cover extra nights and expenses not notmally anticipated. People...

    I was in Barrow in July. I spent 2 extra days there as flights were cancelled due to the reasons stated above. As an Alaskan who travels 100k plus miles in and out of state each year, the rule of thumb when going to Barrow, Kotzebue, Nome etc is to plan for the unexpected. I always pack extra as welland ensure that I have funds to cover extra nights and expenses not notmally anticipated. People need to do their homework before traveling to outlying areas of Alaska. Is Alaska Airlines the blame? They have to abide by FAA regulations as well as passenger safety. Just because the weather cleared in Barrow doesn't mean Alaska has a plane and crew on standby waiting for that window. In the two hours it takes to get there the weather can change 5 times.

  17. Not a Crybaby Guest

    While the situation with the radar may be unusual, these types of delays flying in the Arctic are not . Maybe Alaska Airlines isn't communicating this "unique situation" because NOTHING UNUSUAL is happening. I've flown hundreds of times throughout Alaska and WEATHER HAPPENS. Be glad there are hotel options. I've been forced to overnight in places that didn't have sufficient accommodations available and would have had to stay at a Red Cross shelter (school gymnasium)...

    While the situation with the radar may be unusual, these types of delays flying in the Arctic are not . Maybe Alaska Airlines isn't communicating this "unique situation" because NOTHING UNUSUAL is happening. I've flown hundreds of times throughout Alaska and WEATHER HAPPENS. Be glad there are hotel options. I've been forced to overnight in places that didn't have sufficient accommodations available and would have had to stay at a Red Cross shelter (school gymnasium) if I didn't have friends in town I could impose on.

  18. BConn Guest

    I guess I must count myself really lucky. This has been a bucket list item for me and in 2021 most tours are cancelled so decided to do it this year. I flew up on the 21st of August and flew back to Anchorage on the 22nd. Both days the flight operated. In hindsight, I did see the flight did not for a few days prior and also did not for a few days after....

    I guess I must count myself really lucky. This has been a bucket list item for me and in 2021 most tours are cancelled so decided to do it this year. I flew up on the 21st of August and flew back to Anchorage on the 22nd. Both days the flight operated. In hindsight, I did see the flight did not for a few days prior and also did not for a few days after. The in town grocery store is bare as supplies did not come in. Cherry on top is that it only cost me 25,000 miles roundtrip from the east coast. I did not know prior that the runway is under repair, but did see a construction crew working on it at night and when the flight was taxing to take off, it went off payment at the end of the runway.

  19. Jodi Magee Guest

    I used to live in Barrow…about 20 years ago. Even then we had at least 2 flights a day to and from Anchorage. Passenger/bulk head/ cargo plane.

    You think they could change the schedule to get more people moved when the weather cleared. It is possible, I worked for Air Cargo Express/Tatonduk at the time and know schedules can be shifted.

  20. Nancy Proctor Guest

    In the 80s we got bumped off a flight from Pangnirtung to Iquilat to airlift an Inuit to a hospital . that was a Sunday. The next flight was Thursday. We got to camp at the RCMP garage for 4 days to wait. That's Arctic travel.

  21. W Larson Guest

    This is Alaska where weather can be a problem with flying. It wasn't too long ago that Juneau had many weather cancelations. Alaska Air pioneered a GPS landing system that took care of the problem there. This is the last frontier.

  22. G. B. Guest

    Alaska Airlines has been atrocious lately in holding to its scheduled flight schedule due to staffing issues, frequently canceling flights. Their communication has been worse. Pre-pandemic this was a top tier airline. It is now on the same level as Frontier. They blame issues on the travel industry at large and the fact that "people don't want to work" - verbatim from a customer service rep. Although, they fail to realize that Alaska sets their...

    Alaska Airlines has been atrocious lately in holding to its scheduled flight schedule due to staffing issues, frequently canceling flights. Their communication has been worse. Pre-pandemic this was a top tier airline. It is now on the same level as Frontier. They blame issues on the travel industry at large and the fact that "people don't want to work" - verbatim from a customer service rep. Although, they fail to realize that Alaska sets their scheduled flights themselves, and any staffing issues have been created by them, including the missuse of slow travel seasons the last two years to train staff, and the missuse of government funding to staff up. Pathetic executive management.

  23. The Raven Guest

    The ILS has been NOTAMd out since June 1st, not expected to be restored until October. Expecting regular scheduled airline service to an austere environment like Barrow is incredibly naive. The Airline is trying, but Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.

  24. Nomey Guest

    Expecting a trip to one of the most extreme and isolated climates in the Americas and not being contingent prepared is a choice made by the individual. I have empathy, I've been stuck with bad weather in the Aleutians for over a week at a time, missing family and work as a result, but never would i place blame on the airline for upholding a legitimate standard of safety. I make the decisions and carry...

    Expecting a trip to one of the most extreme and isolated climates in the Americas and not being contingent prepared is a choice made by the individual. I have empathy, I've been stuck with bad weather in the Aleutians for over a week at a time, missing family and work as a result, but never would i place blame on the airline for upholding a legitimate standard of safety. I make the decisions and carry the risk associated with delays in my travels. Those risks are mine to take into context and in no way should be pushed to the airlines. If we did that, there would be an extremely dangerous conflict of interest to reckon with.

  25. David Guest

    It’s unfortunate that you are stuck. This is a regular occurrence in rural Alaska, and not the airlines’ fault. Locals would say “get used to it or don’t come.”

  26. Annie Akootchook Guest

    Barrow Alaska has had heavy dense Fog which resulted in Flights Not being able to land. Along with airport construction for upgrades

  27. N.b Guest

    Common sense is no one should ever travel without extra clothing and a weeks worth of medication domestic or otherwise as anything can happen that can wreck havoc during your trip - although it sounds like a travel advisory would have been helpful if the runways are under construction and other equipment issues are happening ie radar etc. Now not every traveler has accomplished the sometimes necessary research before deciding on a destination and just...

    Common sense is no one should ever travel without extra clothing and a weeks worth of medication domestic or otherwise as anything can happen that can wreck havoc during your trip - although it sounds like a travel advisory would have been helpful if the runways are under construction and other equipment issues are happening ie radar etc. Now not every traveler has accomplished the sometimes necessary research before deciding on a destination and just to say they should know that this airport typically has weather issues and flights don’t operate for days at a time is pretty insensitive. Hopefully people can get out soon, sounds like a stressful situation for everyone.

  28. Kyle Guest

    First and Foremost: Utqiagvik is the community (formerly known as Barrow). Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport is what serves this community. The airport is owned/operated by the State of Alaska (who publish closure/construction notifications). Alaska Airlines provides service to this community and airport. The pilots and crew who serve this airport are some of the finest in the world, working in some of the most extreme and grueling conditions you could imagine, all with the...

    First and Foremost: Utqiagvik is the community (formerly known as Barrow). Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport is what serves this community. The airport is owned/operated by the State of Alaska (who publish closure/construction notifications). Alaska Airlines provides service to this community and airport. The pilots and crew who serve this airport are some of the finest in the world, working in some of the most extreme and grueling conditions you could imagine, all with the end goal of keeping us all safe.

    To the traveler: I feel like your above account is filled with inconsistencies. If you actually researched, you’d know that closures, delays, and cancellations due to weather and construction are the norm - not the exception. Coastal communities in particular are heavily affected, and delays are commonly multi-day (and even multi-week) affairs. When runways are resurfaced in communities with minimal service/no serviceable alternative, it is SOP to slice them down the centerline and run full-length at half-width, making even the most extensive and expansive tarmac significantly more tenuous. I am unsure if this is the current condition of this particular airport, but if it is, so be it. Further, air service to remote communities is a vital lifeline, not simply a day trip joyride. Acknowledge the privilege you are oozing, accept your responsibility, support local businesses, and enjoy the adventure.

    Happy Travels!

  29. Alaskadave New Member

    Just charter a local plane or take wheelers to one of the neighboring villages and charter from there. Welcome to life up north. All you had to do was ask a local about "scheduled service" to know that it's a luxury at the best of times. There are people in Barrow right now waiting to get out to travel to Los Anchorage for actual medical procedures...tourists aren't a priority.

  30. Ahmad Guest

    I think Ben needs to consistently, across this entire piece, refer to this location as Utqiagvik. Continuing to use the colonial name for this indigenous community perpetuates violent legacies.

    1. Oblivious Guest

      Yah…..not really the point at all.

  31. Ahmad Guest

    The traveler comes across as entitled - most residents of the Arctic area are familiar with this possibility, and in fact Alaska Airlines really tries to service these routes. The traveler will eventually make it back, and in the meanwhile I would recommend more patience.

  32. Forest Guest

    Pity the poor turista(s) who can't be bothered to use the traditional and present name of the place they have wandered to. Savvy travelers know that stranding is always possible (anywhere) and are prepared.

  33. Tara Guest

    Any Alaskan knows that flights are cancelled, passes are closed, and the list goes on for traveling in the great state. I have a lifetime examples of travel plans interrupted. That's just the way it is.

  34. Gerry Guest

    This is remote travel to a remote village with extreme weather and safety is first and foremost. The only practical way and out is by air. If you want an adventure to a far flung destination hope for the best and plan for the worst. Otherwise, stay home. Or visit your grandma in Sun City.

  35. skyway420 Guest

    Why didn't you go by dog sled in the first place? So, quit whining.

  36. Fed UP Guest

    Stupid lower 48 "tourists" who fly up to Barrow, "just to look at the Arctic Ocean". If you are dumb enough to fly to this remote location, without adequate supply of medicine, etc. what can one say ? Its not like there is a CVS, Costco, Walmart and major medical facility in Barrow.

    Its the far north, just like in Canada (and other places like Russia, Norway, etc.) and you have to be prepared for the expected, i.e. weather issues.

  37. Mike Guest

    I lived in Barrow for 15 years in the 1980s-90s and was part of managing the tour industry then. Barrow is always considered adventure traveling. You are going to the literal end of the earth and an absolutely foreign culture for goodness sake. Adventure travel is just that, adventurous, with all the risks and rewards of going beyond the safety and security of soft life in the modern over protected world. You make your choice...

    I lived in Barrow for 15 years in the 1980s-90s and was part of managing the tour industry then. Barrow is always considered adventure traveling. You are going to the literal end of the earth and an absolutely foreign culture for goodness sake. Adventure travel is just that, adventurous, with all the risks and rewards of going beyond the safety and security of soft life in the modern over protected world. You make your choice and you live with the consequences. Did you study the weather, the climate, the environment, the society before you put your money down? Did you inform yourself and do a little common sense planning? This one is on you, not the airline.

  38. Keith A. Guest

    Welcome to Alaska! You won't let us build roads, so deal with the weather and airline delays! I've been doing it my whole life. ;)

  39. Darren C Diamond

    Last August I flew FAI-ANC-BRW and thought it odd that AS does not fly nonstop FAI-BRW.

    This summer AC did not warn me about the nightmares in AMS and YYZ and UA did not warn me of massive problems at LHR and EWR.

    I have elite status with all three of the above airlines but never expect them to warn me of possible problems.

  40. D K F Guest

    Know the conditions before you travel. Airlines can’t be held accountable for every risk of travel

  41. Kent Guest

    People want not to be treated like toddlers, except when they do. :)

  42. Jared Guest

    I have travelled to Barrow for work twice. Once by the Dalton Highway and the second time by a chartered flight. I am surprised that people intend to travel to Barrow, because it is literally a seasonal make-shift town with no tourism to offer. It is not a place designed to accommodate thrill seekers; business travelers are warned of the hazards, including delays in outgoing flights. I am all up for thrill seeking adventure tourism,...

    I have travelled to Barrow for work twice. Once by the Dalton Highway and the second time by a chartered flight. I am surprised that people intend to travel to Barrow, because it is literally a seasonal make-shift town with no tourism to offer. It is not a place designed to accommodate thrill seekers; business travelers are warned of the hazards, including delays in outgoing flights. I am all up for thrill seeking adventure tourism, but some places are not designed for tourists. So please do your research before going to avoid such situations. The weather in the northern parts can change in just 30 minutes so even airlines continuously face difficulties in navigating.

    1. Keith A. Guest

      There is NO ROAD to Utqiagvik aka Barrow, so you don't know what you are talking about. ;)

    2. Mike H Guest

      Probably confused with Prudhoe. Typical outsider making a fast buck.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      Someone was probably sleeping on the job.

      @Keith A. is correct, I don't think you can even drive offroad to Barrow from Anchorage any time of the year.

    4. Maklaks Guest

      Ice road in the winter. Organized caravans with emergency gear. January to April. Save $7000 from freighting a vehicle here by driving it.

    5. Perplexed Guest

      What’s with the weird attitude Keith ;) ;)
      Bizarre

    6. CMorgan Guest

      Exactly The Dalton highway or “Haul” road is 414 miles long and goes from Livengood to Deadhorse. Used mainly by truckers who service the pipeline

    7. Jared Guest

      Thanks @Keith A.

      I indeed took the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe and then a hopper to Barrow. The point is that it's not exactly a tourism hotspot. Thanks for the attitude, but I am fully aware of travel within Alaska.

      The road is open to anyone willing the journey, but recommended to do so with an experienced travel service who know the roads and can communicate with the trucks by radio.

      The level of snark knows no bounds on One Mule at a Time.

    8. DCharlie Guest

      Hey! I love the comments on this blog. The comments are the entertainment!

      Otherwise, OMAAT has little to offer in the way of up to date information or knowledge! So maintain the standards of snark!

  43. Gary Cook Guest

    If you want out of Barrow so bad, take a flight service plane like Wrights that have scheduled service to places like Fairbanks and get an AA flight to ANC. Not ideal but not "stranded" like you claim.

    1. Fed UP Guest

      you mean AK flight, American Airlines (AA) doesnt not fly there

    2. Tim Guest

      actually, if you want to be pedantic, its AS. Not AK, which is AirAsia. Geez. Always someone trying to be right.

  44. Eskimo Guest

    Going to Barrow as a tourist?
    Ever consider the tour companies rather than flying commercial by yourself?

    Just unprepared entitled people trying to point fingers.

    If I showed up to Everest basecamp in flipflop and shorts because I was taking a day trip from Bali, who would you blame?

    1. Fed UP Guest

      absolutely true, could not have said it better !!

  45. DLFlyer New Member

    Many of you are shaming Jim for not being prepared. How prepared should one be? Should one pack 2 days of extras? Maybe a week? Is six months too long? Seriously! When I travel especially in winter I pack 3 days max of extras and I'll bring a whole bottle of meds. But what if the delay lasts longer than three days? Is that my fault cause I didn't "plan"? Many of you are just...

    Many of you are shaming Jim for not being prepared. How prepared should one be? Should one pack 2 days of extras? Maybe a week? Is six months too long? Seriously! When I travel especially in winter I pack 3 days max of extras and I'll bring a whole bottle of meds. But what if the delay lasts longer than three days? Is that my fault cause I didn't "plan"? Many of you are just plain mentally "special" and probably shouldn't be allowed out on your own. Also, yes Alaska should had out of courtesy told the paxs about the runway issues up north. It would had been the right thing to do. I hope that there's a class action against Alaska Airlines to teach them a lesson. Cause the only way they listen is if it hits the wallet.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Remind me to laugh at you the next time you realize you need a visa because the almighty US Passport alone isn't enough.

      That should answer how prepared should one be.

      And because DL doesn't remind you to get a visa and you got denied boarding. Good Luck with your class action.
      Let's see who gets the lesson.

    2. DLFlyer Guest

      Drugs are bad. Just say no and get into treatment.

  46. Angel Hunter Guest

    Yeah, flights getting canceled quite a bit, but it happens. The north slow experiences periods of no cargo or mail coming in. In recall the AC store had an empty freezer section for about 3 weeks now. Bypass shipments makes it even slower. In the winter is not to bad but in the summer, groceries and perishables will rot. The store have to compensate for the financial loss and price of shipments and the price...

    Yeah, flights getting canceled quite a bit, but it happens. The north slow experiences periods of no cargo or mail coming in. In recall the AC store had an empty freezer section for about 3 weeks now. Bypass shipments makes it even slower. In the winter is not to bad but in the summer, groceries and perishables will rot. The store have to compensate for the financial loss and price of shipments and the price are very high. Thankfully we stocked up on caribou and fish and look forward to whaling season to fill the freezers.

  47. Ryan Guest

    I feel bad for Jim, but he has to take some responsibility too. You don't fly to the north pole(close enough) and not pack extra clothes etc. And, when there's 1 flight a day, you have to assume the possibility of being stranded regardless of location.
    Alaska 100% didn't cause any of this as he said multiple times. He should know better.
    Alaska should certainly issue some notice, but they're not your parents....

    I feel bad for Jim, but he has to take some responsibility too. You don't fly to the north pole(close enough) and not pack extra clothes etc. And, when there's 1 flight a day, you have to assume the possibility of being stranded regardless of location.
    Alaska 100% didn't cause any of this as he said multiple times. He should know better.
    Alaska should certainly issue some notice, but they're not your parents. Do your part to. Regular Alaska flyers now about Barrow, anybody who's ever seen a YouTube video knows about the weather there. This isn't new.

  48. WG Guest

    Don't come to Alaska and fly out to a remote place and expect all your flights to be on time. It's very common for flights to be cancelled for days at a time in Alaska. If it's truly on your bucket list to travel to remote areas, expect the full experience, which might just end you up sleeping on the floor somewhere. That is just part of rural Alaska. It's different here.

  49. Phyllis Guest

    The airlines should most definitely warn people about the constructive and lack of radar at the airport, so they can make an informed decision about going. My daughter, her husband and their 2 children are stranded up there. They worked hard to save for this trip and planned carefully to take a trip of a lifetime, only to have it turn out this way. I am VERY angry with Alaska Airlines and dread the day I have to fly with them.

    1. Captain Ricky Guest

      Those of us in rural Alaska who depend on Alaska Airlines are happy to fly with them. They serve us well and go out of the way to add extra flights to clear the backlog when weather opens up. They have dropped in a plane into our airport when someone needed an emergency lift out. I feel sorry for your family, but it is part of traveling in Alaska. I know it doesn't help to...

      Those of us in rural Alaska who depend on Alaska Airlines are happy to fly with them. They serve us well and go out of the way to add extra flights to clear the backlog when weather opens up. They have dropped in a plane into our airport when someone needed an emergency lift out. I feel sorry for your family, but it is part of traveling in Alaska. I know it doesn't help to say this not but all of us who live here have been stranded at some time or another. I hope, in the future your family will turn it into a good story to tell about their rural Alaska adventure and, over time, it will become part of family legend.

  50. Fish air Guest

    I live here in Barrow and the only problem is with the weather fog has been in charge of the airport since June its not the airlines fault or the radar you just have plan ahead after the foggy season the winds take charge after that blizzards welcome to flying in the north this normal for us thank you all for visiting barrow

  51. Jeffery Cacy Guest

    I don’t think this is a normal situation. Alaska will probably run extra sections when conditions permit. It’s the way of the north. I was born and raised in Alaska, near the Arctic Circle. Alaska Airlines didn’t create this problem, but they’ll deal with it. No one can predict weather very accurately in the Arctic. I’m sorry your readers are having difficulty. Patience.

  52. Jan shumakrt Guest

    Shame o. ALASKA AIRLINES FOR NOT BEING TRANSPARENT/HONEST ANOUT THE PROBLEMS FLYING IN AND OUT OF BARROW! THEY HAVE RUINED MANY PEOPLES TRIPS AND CAUSED MUCH HARDSHIP!
    I WILL REMEMBER THIS! AND I WILL BE SURE I NEVER BOOK WITH ALASKAN AIRLINES.
    J. SHUMAKER

    1. yiannis Guest

      Good! Please don't book with Alaska. Stay home in the lower 48! What a whiner.

    2. XPL Diamond

      And with the money you save by not flying, you can buy a keyboard that has a working caps lock key. Win-win.

  53. Bob Guest

    I live in Barrow and work for TSA here.
    As far as I know there has NEVER been radar other than the NOAA weather stations. It has always been a line of sight landing airport.
    As for the runway as far as I know, again, it's being resurfaced. Not extended.

  54. OCD Thinkin Member

    Why is it the airline's job to warn people about the weather where they're going? As a traveler I look into where I'm going before I go there.

    #CommonSenseIsNoLongerCommon

    1. PL Guest

      Weather would not be a problem if the radar was working. Passengers should be forewarned that flights might be canceled because lack of radar. My daughter and her family is currently stuck up there and the rest of their trip ruined. My daughter has traveled a lot and knows how to plan a trip. What she didn’t count on is no radar at an airport.

  55. andy Guest

    Waah waah waah, there is no safety, responsibility for yourself and your own demise is on you....

    1. Carlo Berruti Guest

      It reminds me about a day-trip I had planned from Nome, AK, to Wales, AK, a small hamlet literally on the Bering Strait, facing Diomede Islands (it is also the westernmost town of the whole American continent). There were two flights a day, so I planned to take the morning flight there and the afternoon flight back to Nome, just to see the Bering Strait and spend a few hours walking around there. Then, at...

      It reminds me about a day-trip I had planned from Nome, AK, to Wales, AK, a small hamlet literally on the Bering Strait, facing Diomede Islands (it is also the westernmost town of the whole American continent). There were two flights a day, so I planned to take the morning flight there and the afternoon flight back to Nome, just to see the Bering Strait and spend a few hours walking around there. Then, at Nome airport and online I found out that flights are occasionally suspended for days in a row, due to the weather. Of course, no road options. The morning flight was indeed canceled that day. The afternoon flight kept being confirmed, in spite of strong cross winds. In the end I did (for the only time I my life) a return flight with the same aircraft, confident that if it landed there, it would also be able to take off and return to Nome. I explained the bizarre plan to the pilot (being a small Cessna-operated flight clearly helped) and he gave me (the scheduled) 15 minutes stop in Wales at disposal to go to the Bering Strait beach (that is beside the runway) and back, making it very clear that had I not returned in 15 minutes, he would obviously take off without me. They were among the most amazing 15 minutes of my (traveling-wise) life. But of course we’re talking about a totally different scale and type of flights. Great tip about regularly checking the flight history on Flightradar24 by the way.

  56. Kels2003 Guest

    You can hear these same complaints about Canadian North service in the eastern Arctic … “if the plane comes” … “making a fuel stop in another random city” … and how lodging has a disclaimer that if people get stranded they may be bunked into single rooms with you. Having visited Pond Inlet this year, I get it. Just like visiting Antarctica by plane requires several days of waiting for a clear day, the same can occur in the Arctic. Somebody needs to warn these folks.

  57. Steve Guest

    @SeanM. Good question. Where to draw the line? Certainly no later than when the first flight is cancelled and passengers are stuck there for a day or more.

    More information is always better. Send an email that due to equipment at xxx airport being out there is a higher than normal possibility of flights being cancelled and passengers having to wait several days or more for a return flight. Call for more information.

    Same...

    @SeanM. Good question. Where to draw the line? Certainly no later than when the first flight is cancelled and passengers are stuck there for a day or more.

    More information is always better. Send an email that due to equipment at xxx airport being out there is a higher than normal possibility of flights being cancelled and passengers having to wait several days or more for a return flight. Call for more information.

    Same message at checkin.

    Then give agents the information.

    Not exactly a ton of work and extremely helpful to passengers.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      More information is not always better when the person receiving it is singularly ill equipped to process it.

      The "information" in this case is that ILS RWY 8 is not available. That can be easily provided to the customer. What this translates to in terms of actual consequences is a matter of judgement and experience, which is a fancy way of saying educated guesswork. Even the most experienced operator cannot tell you for certain that...

      More information is not always better when the person receiving it is singularly ill equipped to process it.

      The "information" in this case is that ILS RWY 8 is not available. That can be easily provided to the customer. What this translates to in terms of actual consequences is a matter of judgement and experience, which is a fancy way of saying educated guesswork. Even the most experienced operator cannot tell you for certain that this will mean X, Y or Z.

      In cases like this, conditions are constantly changing - especially on the margins. The conditions may be within limits when the flight is dispatched, only for them to have deteriorated while en route. Or vice versa. It isn't an exact science.

      Heck. I've had situations at some airports where you would wait for a specific guy at the Met office there to be on duty to request a special observation because he always was more generous with his visibility than his colleagues. Or one Air Force Base that would ask you what your minima were before giving you an observation with exactly 100m above that.

      I have sympathy for the plight of the traveler, but not for his belief that this is in any way the airline's fault.

  58. Sam Guest

    Geez, I’ve been flying into and out of places in AK far smaller than Utqiaġvik — the legal name, so honor the folks who live there and stop using Barrow — for over 40 years. This is Alaska and more so than any other place in the USA weather and remote conditions control everything.

    Get over your 1st World Entitlement Attitude.

    1. CMorgan Guest

      I call It Barrow lived in AK my whole life. Have a lot of Native friends and relatives who do the same. Also call it Mt McKinley not Denali. Get over your woke self already!

    2. Carl Guest

      Been blissfully ignorant your whole life too?

    3. CMorgan Guest

      Oh get over yourself already. True Alaskans have no time or interest in telling us what to say or do we are independent. Call it whatever the hell you want.

    4. Keith A. Guest

      Exactly what the dude who named Denali, Mt. McKinley said. ;)

      Clearly you know better than the residents of Utqiagvik. ;)

    5. CMorgan Guest

      Excuse me are you a resident of Utqiagvik? My best friend is and neither he or his Native wife were ever consulted on the name change.

  59. Cmorgan Guest

    Ok so I live in Alaska and have flown nearly a million miles on this carrier since 1966. This is a unique situation as AS is the only Regularly scheduled airline in and out of Barrow and in essence it’s their airport. They would have known far in advance about this issue and could have alerted their customers ahead of time. That doesn’t excuse passengers from not being prepared as you should be no matter...

    Ok so I live in Alaska and have flown nearly a million miles on this carrier since 1966. This is a unique situation as AS is the only Regularly scheduled airline in and out of Barrow and in essence it’s their airport. They would have known far in advance about this issue and could have alerted their customers ahead of time. That doesn’t excuse passengers from not being prepared as you should be no matter where you are going. They are lucky that this did not happen in the winter months when it is 50 below with no sun light at all. There is the Top of The World hotel which has a bar and restaurant. Be prepared the prices are out of this world. Lol

    1. Maklaks Guest

      There’s no bar lol

  60. TM Guest

    With the last few years quality of service with Alaskan airlines has gone down significantly especially since they bought out horizon airlines. It often feels like Alaska Airlines is paying attention more to the lower 48 than alaska, maybe they need to change their name. To lower 48 airlines. Alaskan flights for good reasons often get canceled and preparing in advance is essential, But Alaskan has become notorious for horrendous customer service. Since they stopped...

    With the last few years quality of service with Alaskan airlines has gone down significantly especially since they bought out horizon airlines. It often feels like Alaska Airlines is paying attention more to the lower 48 than alaska, maybe they need to change their name. To lower 48 airlines. Alaskan flights for good reasons often get canceled and preparing in advance is essential, But Alaskan has become notorious for horrendous customer service. Since they stopped being Alaskan scenario lines and what are they horizon horizon now? A word of warning to anyone flying Alaskan aint Alaskan don't drink anything made with the water on the plane. Alaskan Airlines needs to start taking care of Alaska or leave.

    1. David Guest

      Wow, you are wrong in so many places. First off, it is Alaska Airlines, not AlanskaN Airlines. They never bought out Horizon Air. They have owned Horizon Air for a long time. If Alaska Airlines leaves Alaska, how are people on the small towns going to get places? Alaska Airlines is still the best airline I'm Alaska and no one is even close.

  61. Beanie Guest

    These people all seem to think that they’re flying to a place that has five flights a day. Weather and crazy s%#@ happens in the Arctic. It’s not uncommon for people to be trapped for days in places like Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow. I would not blame Alaska Airlines for this. Should they have a disclaimer about runway construction in Barrow? I suppose but if you do an Internet search there isn’t a single thing about it.

  62. Bob Guest

    Barrow isn't a place to travel as an unprepared, on the fly, tourist. It's an extreme environment regardless of wether the airport is under construction or not.

    AS doesn't operate these flights for tourists. It operates them as vital links for the people and industry that live & operate there. It's not on AS if tourists don't realize how remote and difficult the place is and have unrealistic expectations.

  63. Paul LoBo Guest

    I used to live in Alaska, in the bush. First term you learn is “weather permitting.” I’m sure the OP has heard that a lot. I feel bad for him, but you’re flying in AK. If he’s that desperate to leave, he can always charter. AK is just that way. Alaskans expect it. He didn’t go to FLL for the weekend.

  64. Ron T Guest

    I'm sure most people will find a way to blame AS, but it seems to me no one has none their due diligence and dont want to take the blame themselves. I have travelled to several very far northern and southern regions of the globe and I usually do weather impact research for landing flights to be sure I dont need extra accommodations. I honestly thought that was a norm when travelling to regions like that.

  65. Mi Guest

    I've traveled to Adak and Kaktovik (on Ravn). You are flying into some small airports at the edge of the world where weather, (wind and fog) are extremely unpredictable.

    Adak, was literally get off and get back on, but I brought enough clothes for three nights.

    In Kaktovik, we spent three nights (planned), yet had to stay an extra two nights at our expense (room & board) at the nice, for Kaktovik, Marsh Inn due...

    I've traveled to Adak and Kaktovik (on Ravn). You are flying into some small airports at the edge of the world where weather, (wind and fog) are extremely unpredictable.

    Adak, was literally get off and get back on, but I brought enough clothes for three nights.

    In Kaktovik, we spent three nights (planned), yet had to stay an extra two nights at our expense (room & board) at the nice, for Kaktovik, Marsh Inn due to inclement weather. Show up at the landing strip, it's a no go, do it again tomorrow, frustrating, but it is the frickin' Arctic.

  66. dander Guest

    Be responsible for your own self. Things happen and Jim needs to man up and stop whining. If he was prepared, he would have his meds and he could enjoy the adventure. Life sucks sometimes and its not always someone else's fault

  67. polarbear Member

    I also find the approach of quoted person immature and entitled.
    AS is actually trying and sending planes in hopes to get people out - turning them around half way costs them money.
    Would you really like to have to read and click "I agree" to a long list of fine print warnings every time you buy a ticket? "you are traveling to Chicago in winter. There may be snow". "you are flying to Paris. There may be a strike".

    1. Chris Guest

      I disagree that the quoted person is immature and entitled. I don’t think you understand. The point is that there is something BROKEN NOW with radar/lights that is not usual risk and AlaskaAir should have TOLD passengers. You are right about travel being risky. But this is out of the ordinary. It is the airlines’ responsibility to let passengers know that. Nonsense about signing fine print wavers.

    2. David Guest

      I can't believe that this article is trying to put some blame on AS. When you book a trip to a Mexico destination, do the airlines warn you that you might be killed by the cartel? No, it is up to the traveler to do some research and plan accordingly. Who takes a flight to a remote place and does not take extra clothes or medicine? That is on these people, not AS. Heck, I even take extra clothes if I am traveling to San Francisco.

  68. Michael Lashchuk Guest

    I had major issues flying out of King Salmon in July during the end of the commerce fishing season. I was coming from katmai. Alaska had three 737 flights from 12 to 630pm. I was on the 630pm. The line to check in went down the street. Took 3.5 hrs to check bags and get thru TSA. They it took 2.5 hrs to board a 737. The previous flight left less than half full because...

    I had major issues flying out of King Salmon in July during the end of the commerce fishing season. I was coming from katmai. Alaska had three 737 flights from 12 to 630pm. I was on the 630pm. The line to check in went down the street. Took 3.5 hrs to check bags and get thru TSA. They it took 2.5 hrs to board a 737. The previous flight left less than half full because the crew was going to time out stranding 80 who needed to be rebooted. Alaska blamed TSA. I saw 9 TSA employees but only 3 Alaska ones. Tons of fisherman had boxes and boxes of fish. Drunk ones were being escorted out of the small terminal. I really can empathize with those trying to get in and out of Barrow. Alaska would blame the higher minimums on weather or the airport. Just like every time I go to collect my discount because my bag didn't make it off the plane in the bag service guarantee 20min time limit. Alaska always claims its the airports fault. I fly about 100 Alaska flights a year. I would encourage those flying into and out of the state of Alaska to purchase traveler insurance that covers weather delays and miss connections. Things happen. Weather changes. Planes break. But one thing that I hate is being jerked around, lied to or mislead.

  69. Larry Opperman Guest

    Lighten up Ben. I've lived in Alaska over 31 years and have flown all over the state, including Utgiagvik. I've been trapped in locations all over Alaska due to weather and other aviation related problems. Don't be so judgemental over something we Alaskans have endured for years. It's just part of living and working up here. Try being stuck in a village of 230 people for a week with no lodging and sleeping every night...

    Lighten up Ben. I've lived in Alaska over 31 years and have flown all over the state, including Utgiagvik. I've been trapped in locations all over Alaska due to weather and other aviation related problems. Don't be so judgemental over something we Alaskans have endured for years. It's just part of living and working up here. Try being stuck in a village of 230 people for a week with no lodging and sleeping every night on the gym floor of the local school, or on a remote Aleutian Island. It's how we live up here and instead of the negative aspects of your delays, it should be a source of a more unusual tales of your travels. You should be honored to experience once in your life what all Alaskans have experienced since aviation arrived in this great state.

  70. Ross Guest

    This never happened when Sarah Palin was governor.

  71. David Ourisman Guest

    Does his credit card provide travel insurance, specifically trip delay? His situation would trigger per diem payments for expenses and perhaps compensate for lost, prepaid excursions.

  72. Roy Guest

    Welcome to Alaska. Alaska Airlines busts its ass to serve remote Alaska, those of us who live off the road system and rely on what they do are thankful they are there, even when not everything goes well. This smear piece which resulted from an individual’s poor planning, in preparation to fly to the top of the continent is ridiculous. I got stranded in Milan, Italy by EasyJet this summer. They canceled 10 minutes before...

    Welcome to Alaska. Alaska Airlines busts its ass to serve remote Alaska, those of us who live off the road system and rely on what they do are thankful they are there, even when not everything goes well. This smear piece which resulted from an individual’s poor planning, in preparation to fly to the top of the continent is ridiculous. I got stranded in Milan, Italy by EasyJet this summer. They canceled 10 minutes before boarding. Had a choice of a refund or a new flight 2 days later. Being stuck can happen anywhere, Being unprepared is the individual’s own fault. This state isn’t Disney Land

  73. Matthew Guest

    If one really needs to get out of BRW hiring a charter to SCC is the cheapest way. SCC flights are still up and running.

  74. John Guest

    Been stuck in barrow many times because of weather. AS has the most reliable operation flying to BRW/SCC, but canceled flights at BRW can be common especially in the winter.

  75. Heather Hopkins Guest

    Unfortunately this clickbait title attracted me enough to click on your link. Even more unfortunate, the article in my humble opinion is missing a key point.

    Even though Alaska is within the United States, it doesn’t mean that people should not plan ahead for a trip to an incredibly remote location. Didn’t bring extra medicine just in case? Why isn’t that your fault? Why should Alaska Airlines be at fault? It doesn’t matter where you...

    Unfortunately this clickbait title attracted me enough to click on your link. Even more unfortunate, the article in my humble opinion is missing a key point.

    Even though Alaska is within the United States, it doesn’t mean that people should not plan ahead for a trip to an incredibly remote location. Didn’t bring extra medicine just in case? Why isn’t that your fault? Why should Alaska Airlines be at fault? It doesn’t matter where you travel with, or whom, there is always chance of a mechanical issue which could delay flights. It’s fun to pick someone else to blame, but I’m not buying it. Travel always comes with some risk of delays or cancellations.

    Do some research prior to traveling to remote locations and inform yourself, especially if you have a medical condition that requires medicine. If you’re not up to that sort of adventure, then your research would tell you that you should stick to locations that are better adapted for tourism.

    1. Tara Guest

      I was about to comment on the article but could not have said it better.

    2. CJ Guest

      Spot on. Spare me the “I’m the victim here” mentality. You are in the most remote place in AK, don’t be such a Nancy. I’m sure he’s on the phone now with Pony Express to courier is Vagasil to Barrow - overnight delivery. Welcome to AK my friend.

    3. NedsKid New Member

      Agreed completely!

      I once got "stranded" in Watertown, NY... airport's automated weather system was out of service and even though it was a clear summer day with no cloud in the sky, US Airways Express could not operate because not legal to dispatch without destination weather. No station personnel trained as weather observers either. Got stuck there once... ended up sharing a ride with another passenger down to SYR. The next week, made it...

      Agreed completely!

      I once got "stranded" in Watertown, NY... airport's automated weather system was out of service and even though it was a clear summer day with no cloud in the sky, US Airways Express could not operate because not legal to dispatch without destination weather. No station personnel trained as weather observers either. Got stuck there once... ended up sharing a ride with another passenger down to SYR. The next week, made it JAX-DCA-PIT to get told can't land at ART... alternative is go to Ogdensburg with no further help. Declared trip in vain and got sent home with my miles/segments credited.

  76. Chris Guest

    Of course traveling to the Arctic is risky! But really, how can anyone say this is the traveler’s fault? Alaska could easily have announced the situation at the airport. I bet those poor stranded people would not have gotten on the plane. This seems to me to be undeniably Alaska Airlines’ fault!

  77. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Airports regularly do construction and maintenance that impacts the ability of airlines to maintain their schedules. Airlines alone have to make the decision regarding whether they can maintain their schedules with those limitations. AS clearly was too optimistic and the mess is clear. They can fall back on its being weather related which eliminates their responsibility because not every flight has had to cancel during the construction. Given that AS is the only carrier serving...

    Airports regularly do construction and maintenance that impacts the ability of airlines to maintain their schedules. Airlines alone have to make the decision regarding whether they can maintain their schedules with those limitations. AS clearly was too optimistic and the mess is clear. They can fall back on its being weather related which eliminates their responsibility because not every flight has had to cancel during the construction. Given that AS is the only carrier serving Barrow, I'm not sure there is much damage other than to AS' reputation. If you really have to go there in the future, you will still book AS because there are no other options.

    1. Sam Guest

      Yes. AS should have something stating the issue on their website. However, the email author seems to put the Lions share of the blame on AS without taking enough responsibility. If they're writing to OMAT then they should know enough to do a bit of proactive research beforehand. At least own it more than is stated because your day tripping to the freaking Arctic. What could possibly go wrong?!

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Airlines receive notices of changes to airport facilities and capabilities months in advance which do result in many changes to schedules. There is and can be no threshold for where the public needs to be warned.
      AS made the decision that it could maintain its operation and they badly guessed wrong.
      The best thing consumers can do is petition AS as a group and file complaints with the US DOT.
      and while...

      Airlines receive notices of changes to airport facilities and capabilities months in advance which do result in many changes to schedules. There is and can be no threshold for where the public needs to be warned.
      AS made the decision that it could maintain its operation and they badly guessed wrong.
      The best thing consumers can do is petition AS as a group and file complaints with the US DOT.
      and while some customers can't get out, others can't get in so it isn't like the place is being overwhelmed. Those that are stuck there are just spending more time inside the Arctic Circle than they planned.

    3. NedsKid New Member

      Further to that, since it looks like AS is operating some of the time (and launching flights from ANC in good faith) that the outage is not a bracketed from X date to Y date, and maybe the outages are not even planned or are intermittent and things are not coming back up on schedule.

      Years ago I worked as an intern for an airport authority in Florida.. they had just been "gifted" a...

      Further to that, since it looks like AS is operating some of the time (and launching flights from ANC in good faith) that the outage is not a bracketed from X date to Y date, and maybe the outages are not even planned or are intermittent and things are not coming back up on schedule.

      Years ago I worked as an intern for an airport authority in Florida.. they had just been "gifted" a decommissioned Naval Air Station and re-opened as a public airport. Lots of improvements to be made... not a lot of things like utility diagrams existing from 1940s when built. Every day was a game of "what are we going to dig up today. Not enough to warn people off the airport, but occasionally would hit something like was at least mildly important like a runway lights control.

  78. Alpha Golf Guest

    I’ve been to Barrow on AS, and to the even more extreme Adak. It’s the arctic. You have to expect and plan for bad weather and delays It’s not like flying to LA.

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Thank you, master of the obvious.

      And here everyone was thinking flying to Barrow was like flying to LA.

      You’ve saved many lives today.

    2. Alpha Golf Guest

      Apparently the reader who complained to Ben did.

  79. Scudder Diamond

    I hope the reader sends a follow-up about how all his OMAT-pumped credit cards' insurances covered his expeses, both the unexpected and the nonrefundable.

  80. John Guest

    Your post, one hopes, will get the attention of senior Alaska executives.
    On the first clear day they should send an extra plane to get all the stranded passengers back ASAP.

    1. Roy Guest

      “On the first clear day they should send an extra plane to get all the stranded passengers back ASAP.“

      They often do.

  81. Ole Guest

    Some wrong information here. It's not a radar issue, but rather the ILS being out of service. As a consequence other approaches with higher minimas are the only ones available.

    All information appears to be published correctly in relevant NOTAMs, so I don't really get the no information published complaint.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ole -- I hear you, but surely an airline can't expect the average airline passenger to be looking at NOTAMs? My point is that this notice should be available in a more consumer friendly way, like a notice from the airline.

    2. David Guest

      @Ben, But you think it’s reasonable for pax to be expected to consult Flightradar24 before undertaking a trip like this? I have sympathy for everyone stranded at Barrow, and yes, this could have been averted if AS had been more proactive in their communications, but the NOTAMs provide much better information than speculation based on past history of the flight according to Flightradar24.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ David -- No, I don't think passengers should be expected to consult Flightradar24. Rather I was just trying to provide a couple of tips about what avgeeks could generally do to get a sense of the odds of their flight operating on-time.

      I just think that a NOTAM like this won't mean much to the average traveler:
      "!FDC 2/5654 BRW IAP WILEY POST-WILL ROGERS MEML,
      UTQIAGVIK, AK.
      ILS OR LOC RWY...

      @ David -- No, I don't think passengers should be expected to consult Flightradar24. Rather I was just trying to provide a couple of tips about what avgeeks could generally do to get a sense of the odds of their flight operating on-time.

      I just think that a NOTAM like this won't mean much to the average traveler:
      "!FDC 2/5654 BRW IAP WILEY POST-WILL ROGERS MEML,
      UTQIAGVIK, AK.
      ILS OR LOC RWY 8, AMDT 2A...
      PROCEDURE NA EXCEPT FOR ACFT EQUIPPED WITH SUITABLE RNAV SYSTEM
      WITH GPS, BRW VOR/DME OUT OF SERVICE. 2208232114-2209222114EST"

    4. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Yeah, gotta agree with Lucky here. That looks/sounds like hieroglyphics to me and I'm not an close to being an AV Geek, just a PlatPrO Flyer with OneWorld......my husband and I would have been stranded there with zero clue as well.

    5. Sam Guest

      The average person doesn't email you this kind of stuff. You know... To be fair :-)

    6. Megan Guest

      I call BS that any of you suddenly claiming that reading a NOTAM is SOP have actually done it yourselves.

    7. Sean M. Diamond

      Where do you draw the line on notifying passengers of NOTAMs? There are literally hundreds of thousands of NOTAMs out there. If you've ever dispatched an actual flight you'll realize that NOTAM fatigue is real even for pilots and dispatchers - there is so much info out there that the signal is often drowned out by the noise.

      The likelihood is that, absent extremely poor weather, the RNAV approach at most airports has minima that...

      Where do you draw the line on notifying passengers of NOTAMs? There are literally hundreds of thousands of NOTAMs out there. If you've ever dispatched an actual flight you'll realize that NOTAM fatigue is real even for pilots and dispatchers - there is so much info out there that the signal is often drowned out by the noise.

      The likelihood is that, absent extremely poor weather, the RNAV approach at most airports has minima that are close enough to ILS minima to permit operations almost every time. The weather in recent days has fallen below those, but that is a weather issue rather than an operator issue.

    8. Jack McCrary Guest

      Why not? This is flying in a frontier area with an extreme environment. You are literally gambling with your life any time you fly to a destation that's off the rail-belt (If you don't believe that, compare the AK rate of aviation accidents and death to the rest of the US). The level of personal responsibility is higher here, and fliers should consult the weather and relevant aviation info sources. This is the minimum due...

      Why not? This is flying in a frontier area with an extreme environment. You are literally gambling with your life any time you fly to a destation that's off the rail-belt (If you don't believe that, compare the AK rate of aviation accidents and death to the rest of the US). The level of personal responsibility is higher here, and fliers should consult the weather and relevant aviation info sources. This is the minimum due dilligence for risk assessment and to guide your decision making on what clothing and survival gear to wear/pack.

    9. Ole Guest

      You draw the line pretty low in that case to what airline passengers should be informed about. Work like this happens so many places, so often. You just never hear about it. For airlines to provide information of a slightly increased likelihood of disruptions in their service and/or schedule due to the combination of third parties performing work and extraordinary bad weather just seems unreasonable IMHO.

      I get that the situation really sucks for those...

      You draw the line pretty low in that case to what airline passengers should be informed about. Work like this happens so many places, so often. You just never hear about it. For airlines to provide information of a slightly increased likelihood of disruptions in their service and/or schedule due to the combination of third parties performing work and extraordinary bad weather just seems unreasonable IMHO.

      I get that the situation really sucks for those stranded there, but it also strikes me as unreasonable to expect Alaska Airlines to both forsee and inform about the situation. A 600ft minima is not particulary bad - the weather is really quite bad for the weather to be below that all day long several days in a row.

    10. Sean M. Diamond

      @Ole - Exactly. I just read through PABR NOTAMs and apart from ILS U/S there is info about TWY closures and VOR issues and PPR requirements from 0300-1600z, all of which could conceivably cause operational issues if the stars aligned. And that's just for PABR. Multiply that by hundreds of airports that the airline serves (and maybe some of the alternates too) and you'd just confuse the poor passengers even more.

  82. Scudder Diamond

    I'm sure Alaska could be more communicative. But traveling to the near literal ends of the earth has inherent risks, for which the travelers themselves must take responsibility.

  83. Klaus Guest

    Interesting: it looks very far on the map but flight time is only 1h37m (regularly).

    1. SamB Gold

      I think it might be a Mercator projection issue, where it looks distorted on a flat map because it's so far north.

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Alpha Golf Guest

I’ve been to Barrow on AS, and to the even more extreme Adak. It’s the arctic. You have to expect and plan for bad weather and delays It’s not like flying to LA.

7
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Ole -- I hear you, but surely an airline can't expect the average airline passenger to be looking at NOTAMs? My point is that this notice should be available in a more consumer friendly way, like a notice from the airline.

5
Scudder Diamond

I'm sure Alaska could be more communicative. But traveling to the near literal ends of the earth has inherent risks, for which the travelers themselves must take responsibility.

5
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