Alaska Airline’s cancellation woes not over yet; CEO says it will be back on track by July

May 15, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci has apologized for the airline’s continuing problems with flight cancellations while also signaling that things should start to improve next month.

“I’m deeply sorry,” Minicucci said in a YouTube video that was emailed to Alaska’s Mileage Plan members. “I hear every day from friends, neighbors and guests about how disruptive our flight cancellations have been.”

The airline’s chief executive said the steps taken to correct Alaska’s problems will take some time to take effect, and says the airline should be “back on track” by July and August.

The carrier says it has been canceling roughly 50 flights a day, about 4% of its 1,200 daily flight schedule, since April. Airline officials say the primary reason for the spate of cancellations is that the airline simply doesn’t have enough pilots to fly its planes. According to FlightAware, the airline had 12 cancellations on Saturday, May 14, just 1% of its total schedule.

“This is coming at a time when flights are already full, so rebooking options are limited,” Minicucci said in the video.

Get your travel news and advice delivered each morning to your inbox by subscribing to TPG’s daily newsletter.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

As TPG reported, the carrier had already reduced its total flight schedule by 2% as part of its efforts to minimize the impact to travelers.

Compounding the problem for passengers stranded by canceled flights has been incredibly long wait times trying to get through to Alaska’s customer service agents. The airline is also addressing that by expanding its staff across the company.

“By July and through the rest of the summer travel season, we should be back to flying a reliable and well-staffed operation,” Minicucci said. “An additional 50 pilots, 400 flight attendants and 200 reservations agents will have joined our ranks.”

Related: What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled 

He admitted that the pilot shortage caught management off guard and that executives didn’t recognize the potential for disruption until it was too late. “There are no excuses. The leadership team and I take responsibility and we’re executing a plan to get this right and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Minicucci said.

He also emphasized that the disruption has nothing to do with the pilot’s union and current negotiations over a new contract. “I want to be clear – our pilots are not on strike,” he said.

As TPG previously reported, Alaska’s problems began when it started April with 63 fewer pilots than it needed to operate its flight schedule. Now, the airline has centralized staff and schedule planning under a single management team and has put a priority on hiring, training and recruitment for pilots, flight attendants and other airline personnel.

Related: Alaska Air and Horizon launch pilot academy

Like many airlines, Alaska Air has struggled to regain its form following two years of pandemic-related disruption to the aviation industry. Back in January, it had to cancel 10% of its flights because of COVID-19 and weather issues.

Featured image courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.