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Saving the day
Alaska employees' can-do spirit brightens
Christmas for stranded Delta passengers and crew
Posted January 17, 2003
Thanks to the self-less efforts of Alaska Airlines employees, a Christmas that was shaping to be one big bag of coal for 75 Delta Air Lines passengers and crew members turned out right.
A Delta 757 en route to Anchorage on Christmas day had to make an emergency landing in Yakutat, a remote Southeast Alaska town of about 500 residents. With restaurants closed and hotel space limited, things were looking bleak.
And then Alaska Captain Jim Bridwell, overhearing air traffic controllers instruct the Delta plane to put down in Yakutat, contacted Phil Timpe, Alaska’s chief dispatcher, to see if there was an airborne Alaska plane that could detour to Yakutat to pick up the stranded folks from Delta.
Sure enough, Alaska flight 93 en route from Seattle to Anchorage was just an hour outside Yakutat. "When Phil asked us if we would pick up the stranded passengers, we said absolutely. We convinced our passengers that we could turn the plane in 30 minutes so they wouldn’t miss their Christmas dinners," said Captain Mark Laura.
Timpe then contacted Vince Jacobson, Alaska’s customer service manager in Yakutat.
"It took us about 30 minutes to rig our air stairs to extend high enough to reach the passenger door of the Delta jet," said Jacobson, who along with Ramp Service Agents Steve Forsyth and Tony Glazier and Customer Service Agent Tina Valle left family gatherings to help.
Once deplaned, the passengers had only an hour’s wait in the airport’s tiny terminal for the Alaska 737-400 to arrive.
As promised, the flight arrived in Anchorage only 30 minutes later than scheduled and with 68 additional, and very thankful, passengers.
Later that day Jacobson and his wife Dora treated the Delta crew, who remained in Yakutat, to a home-cooked Christmas dinner of "ham and all the fixings."