Airlines Cap Fares Between Seattle and Portland After Fatal Amtrak Derailment

Dec 19, 2017

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On Monday morning, an Amtrak train traveling nearly triple the speed limit derailed outside Tacoma, Washington, killing three passengers and injuring over 100 train passengers and drivers on Interstate 5. 13 of the 14 train cars derailed when it was clocked going 81 mph in a 30 mph section of track.

Amtrak co-CEO Richard Anderson — the former CEO of Delta — confirmed “Positive Train Control” was not activated on the tracks at the time of the crash. PTC is a system designed to avoid these type of crashes by — among other features — automatically slowing speeding trains. In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring PTC to be on all major rail lines in the US by 2015. However, just 24% of passenger railroad lines had the technology enabled at the end of 2016.

While Amtrak is shut down during the investigation and I-5 is still snarled, many travelers’ only option to get between Seattle and Portland is via plane. And some travelers didn’t appreciate how much the prices of flights cost.

In response to this and other pleas, Alaska Airlines has capped the fare for all flights between Seattle (SEA) and Portland (PDX) at $99 each way. As of this writing, the cap is only in place for Monday and Tuesday (December 18 and 19).

The fares we’re seeing in Google Flights and other OTAs don’t reflect the price caps. You’re going to need click through Google Flights to Alaska Airlines’ website to book your selected flight in order to see the capped fares.

Similarly, if you search directly on, the initial search results still show the uncapped fares:

However, once you select your flight and click “Add to Cart,” the fare will reprice:

Another major player in the Pacific Northwest, Delta has also capped fares between SEA and PDX at $99 on Monday and Tuesday. These fares are showing up in Google Flights. However, there’s a catch to these: it books into basic economy. Thankfully, Main Cabin fares cost just $15 more.

We applaud Alaska Airlines and Delta for making this move to help affected travelers get where they need to go.

Featured image by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

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