Hotels, airlines, Sea-Tac Airport are preparing for winter storm around the Puget Sound area.
By Carol Pucci
Seattle Times travel writer
Sea-Tac Airport crews are working 12-hour shifts.
Alaska Airlines has reserved rooms near the airport for employees.
Some downtown hotels are offering special rates — all in anticipation of snow that could snarl travel around the Puget Sound area.
“We’re getting quite a few people calling and booking rooms in anticipation of snow,” said a desk clerk at the DoubleTree Hotel at Sea-Tac, where all 850 rooms were booked by early Tuesday with travelers and airline personnel.
Taking advantage of what’s normally a slow period, many downtown Seattle hotels are offering snow specials.
Kimpton Hotels, which owns the Hotel Vintage Park, Hotel Monaco and Alexis Hotel, is offering rooms at 32 percent (as in 32 degrees) off its best available rates, plus free parking and restaurant discounts Tuesday through the weekend.
The Mayflower Park Hotel is offering rooms starting at $99 Tuesday and Wednesday and perhaps longer, depending on the weather, said reservations manager Craig Packer. Also offering $99 specials Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the Maxwell Hotel, Hotel Five, University Inn and Watertown Hotel.
The Paramount Seattle hotel is running a $109 special Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Manager Matt Murphy said the 146-room hotel was 70 percent booked by Tuesday afternoon, and it planned to put up staff in some of the rooms.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, which handle about 50 percent of the passenger traffic in and out of Sea-Tac, have reserved hotel rooms near the airport for employees, and has plenty of de-icing fluid on hand to weather a storm, said spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.
The airlines had to cancel or delay flights during a storm in 2010, citing treacherous road conditions that prevented some employees from getting to work. In 2008, they shut down completely, the result of weather-related problems, including a shortage of de-icing fluid.
Alaska said it would waive change fees for passengers with tickets for flights departing Seattle or Portland Tuesday through Thursday, providing travel is rescheduled by Sunday. Passengers can also request a refund. The airline said it would accept no unaccompanied minors through Thursday. Virgin America is offering to rebook passengers on flights scheduled to depart Tuesday and Wednesday, with no change fees or difference in fares, provided they travel no later than Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Sea-Tac Airport crews have been on snow alert for several days, preparing to keep two of the airport’s three runways open at all times, said spokesman Perry Cooper.
Temperature gauges in the runways tell crews when to begin de-icing, and crews perform skid-testing at three different points on each runway.
The airport has emergency supplies, blankets and food available in case passengers get stranded and have to spend the night, Cooper said. Restaurants and shops have been ordering extra food and drinks in anticipation of the weather disrupting deliveries.
If you’re flying
Some things to know if you are planning to fly this week:
• Check your airline’s website or call to check the status of your flight before going to the airport. Flight cancellation and delay info is also available at www.portseattle.org/Sea-Tac.
• If your flight is canceled, you’ll be offered a refund or a chance to reschedule, but don’t expect the airline to pay for a hotel room or meals. When it comes to delays or cancellations caused by mechanical problems, crew shortages, etc., airlines will often provide compensation, but not for weather-related problems.
• Plan to leave for the airport in plenty of time to arrive two hours before your flight. The busiest time for departures out of Sea-Tac is between 6 and 8:30 a.m.