Alaska Airlines Flight Delayed Because of a Seal on the Runway

Each airport has its own unique challenges. Earlier this year there was a leopard on the runway in Kathmandu. A kangaroo once walked into an airport pharmacy in Melbourne, Australia.

Sheep and goats graze on the grounds of Chicago O’Hare to trim the grass. Two years ago an Alaska Airlines flight landed on a deer on the runway in Santa Rosa, California.

But yesterday’s story out of Barrow, Alaska was a new one on me: an Alaska Airlines flight delay due to a seal on the runway.

Here’s video of the seal, the zoom in on its face 9 seconds in is priceless.

According to an air traffic controller, “I gave Alaska their clearance and barrow radio said “Uhh I think they might need a hold for release, there is a seal on the runway” made my day.”

Here’s the first-person account of how the seal was cleared off the runway:

It didn’t wanna leave. Kept biting at the running board on the truck I was in. Trying to get it off runway so [Alaska Airlines] could leave.

I poked it a few times with a big wrench and it loved that.

Got it into the safety area and the local Polar Bear control guys came over with a snowmachine and sled and rodeo’d it away.

Problem solved. Back to blowing snow.

Though the flight isn’t identified, based on the timestamp of the Facebook post it would either have been Alaska Airlines 55 from Barrow to Fairbanks or Alaska 9621 from Barrow to Deadhorse.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I use my frequent flyer miles to commute from DTW to my tribal college in BRW. Perhaps this bearded seal was crossing the runway to enroll at Alaska’s only Tribal College, Ilisagvik College. I love our tribal college.

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