September 13, 2007 in City

Horizon travelers grounded

By and The Spokesman-Review
 
Brian Plonka photo

Bonnie Klein, of Spokane, waits Wednesday at the Horizon Air counter.
(Full-size photo)

When Bonnie Klein’s 9:30 a.m. Horizon Air flight was canceled, she was offered a later flight that would get her into Baltimore about 4 a.m.

So the 26-year-old postponed her departure date a day.

“No one is really going to pick me up at the airport at 4 in the morning,” the Spokane woman said as she sat outside Spokane International Airport on Wednesday morning waiting for a ride from the same friend who had just dropped her off.

Klein was among a group of travelers who found themselves out of luck after Horizon Air canceled 17 flights leaving from Spokane because of safety concerns.

The airline canceled a total of 113 flights so specialists could inspect 19 Horizon Q400 airplanes after two similar models experienced landing gear problems during flights in Europe. The Seattle-based airline operates in 48 cities in the western United States and Canada.

The inspections are a precaution recommended by the Canadian manufacturer and were scheduled to be completed Wednesday.

Allen Weymiller, a company spokesman, said the airline was rerouting passengers to other flights offered by Horizon and sister company Alaska Airlines. Earlier, a spokeswoman said Horizon was also booking travelers with other airlines.

Some people with more flexible travel plans were rebooked onto flights leaving today.

“We’re just trying to focus on getting people where they need to go as fast as we can,” Weymiller said.

In the early afternoon, he said, the airline had yet to offer widespread freebies to compensate travelers but would deal with passengers on a “case by case” basis.

Klein said she didn’t get any compensation for the inconvenience, but another customer did.

“I didn’t really cause a fuss, but the guy in front of me complained and they bought him lunch,” she said.

Horizon representatives declined to comment on how many local travelers were delayed, but Tom Schaaf, a Group Health physician whose flight was canceled, estimated that the concourse waiting area held about 200 people while he was there Wednesday morning and 40 to 50 of them were trying to get on alternate flights.

“It was standing room only,” said Schaaf, who canceled three presentations he was scheduled to give in Seattle.

Some travelers weren’t affected by the flight changes.

“We’ve had no problem coming and going,” said Monica Story, a 51-year-old Sacramento, Calif., resident traveling home with her husband, Dwayne, on an afternoon Horizon flight.

Judy Lungren, a fiddle player from Spokane, was headed to a music convention in Berkeley, Calif., and was also unaffected by the flight cancellations.

“I’m good to go. I didn’t even know there might be problems,” Lungren said.

But Mike Levin, a 39-year-old sales representative from Portland, found himself scrambling for a ticket on Southwest Airlines because he needed to get home Wednesday night for a concert featuring ‘80s bands Styx and Def Leppard.

“They’re trying to get me on another flight,” said Levin, as he rushed through the airport.

Allysen Halsen, a 20-year-old accounting major at Eastern Washington University, was planning to fly home to Gig Harbor, Wash., for a two-day visit when an airline representative said they couldn’t accommodate her until today. Halsen canceled her visit.

“It wasn’t worth going home.”


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