Three cheers for everyone at the Kenai Municipal Airport who went above and beyond to assist all the passengers stranded when their flight from Chicago was diverted from Anchorage last week.
United Airlines flight 1425 touched down in Kenai at about 7 p.m. on March 14 after weather conditions in Anchorage prevented a safe landing there. More than 100 passengers were stuck on the plane for about four hours before they were allowed to disembark — at which point most of them were then stuck at the airport until the plane was able to take off again at 2 p.m. Saturday.
At that point, people at the Kenai airport stepped in and stepped up. Airport Manager Mary Bondurant spent the night on the phone with TSA to make arrangements for passenger screening. Ravn Alaska staff went out of their way to try to make stranded travelers comfortable, making several trips to Walmart for food, water, pillows and blankets. The Upper Deck Lounge re-opened for travelers to cool their heels. Odie’s Deli served up breakfast.
With so many variables, travel in Alaska always has the potential to be unpredictable. Who doesn’t have a story about getting stuck or delayed somewhere? But we also make it a point to lend a hand to those in a bind, whether it’s pulling a motorist out of the ditch on a slippery road, or helping out more than 100 people stranded at the local airport.
All involved showed true Kenai Peninsula hospitality. Hopefully, for all those stranded, the night spent at the Kenai airport will become a good story for the campfire — and they’ll also recount how helpful people at the airport were. Our hats are off to everyone who pitched in to make a difficult situation a little more bearable.