Alaska Flight 459

Summary: Alaska Flight 45 is a domestic passenger flight in the United States that was involved in a well-publicized incident on February 7, 2018. The flight originated in Seattle and was en route to Anchorage when the pilot announced an emergency landing due to a strange odor in the cabin. The airplane landed safely, but several passengers and crew members became ill and required medical attention.

1. Background of Alaska Flight 45

Alaska Flight 45 is a regularly scheduled passenger flight operated by Alaska Airlines. The flight departs from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and arrives at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. The route is approximately 1,440 miles long and takes about three and a half hours to complete. The flight is usually operated by a Boeing 737-900ER, which is a popular and reliable airliner that has been in service since 2007.

The incident that occurred on board Alaska Flight 45 on February 7, 2018, was unusual and unexpected. The flight had been operating normally for about an hour when the pilot made an announcement about a strange odor in the cabin. The pilot stated that the crew was investigating the source of the odor but did not provide any additional details about the situation.

After several minutes, the pilot announced that the flight would be diverting to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for an emergency landing. The reason for the diversion was not immediately clear to the passengers, but many of them could see emergency vehicles on the tarmac as the airplane approached the runway.

2. Response to the Emergency Landing

Upon landing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the passengers and crew members on board Alaska Flight 45 were instructed to evacuate the airplane as quickly and safely as possible. The airplane was parked on the tarmac, and the passengers were directed to use the emergency slides to exit the cabin. The crew members also assisted in the evacuation process by directing passengers and ensuring that everyone exited in an orderly fashion.

Once outside the airplane, the passengers were transported to the terminal building where they received medical attention and were reunited with their belongings. Several passengers and crew members reported feeling ill and experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and headache. In total, 10 people were taken to the hospital for treatment, including one passenger who required a stretcher and oxygen mask.

The cause of the strange odor and subsequent illnesses was not immediately clear, and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were dispatched to the scene to begin an investigation. The airplane was also inspected and examined for any signs of damage or malfunction that may have contributed to the incident.

3. Investigation Findings

The investigation into the incident on Alaska Flight 45 revealed several important findings and conclusions. First, it was determined that the strange odor in the cabin was likely caused by engine oil that had leaked onto the airplane’s auxiliary power unit (APU) during a maintenance procedure prior to the flight.

Second, it was found that the airplane’s air conditioning system had been contaminated with fumes from the engine oil, which had entered the cabin through the airplane’s ventilation system. This contamination was the cause of the illnesses experienced by several passengers and crew members on board the flight.

Finally, the investigation identified several deficiencies in Alaska Airlines’ maintenance procedures and training programs. Specifically, it was found that the airline had failed to adequately train its maintenance personnel on the proper handling and disposal of engine oil, and that the airline’s procedures for detecting and addressing oil leaks were insufficient.

4. Response and Changes Made by Alaska Airlines

Following the incident on Alaska Flight 45, Alaska Airlines took several steps to address the deficiencies identified in the investigation. The airline introduced new training programs for its maintenance personnel that focused on proper handling and disposal of engine oil. The airline also implemented new procedures for detecting and addressing oil leaks on its airplanes.

In addition, Alaska Airlines partnered with the manufacturer of the airplane’s APU to develop a new kit that would prevent engine oil from leaking onto the APU during maintenance procedures. This kit has since been deployed on Alaska Airlines’ fleet of Boeing 737-900ER airplanes and has been effective in preventing similar incidents from occurring.

The changes made by Alaska Airlines in response to the incident on Alaska Flight 45 have been praised by aviation safety experts and have helped to improve the safety and reliability of the airline’s operations.


The incident on Alaska Flight 45 highlights the importance of proper maintenance procedures and training in ensuring the safety of commercial air travel. The response by Alaska Airlines to the incident was swift and comprehensive, and has helped to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. While the incident was certainly alarming for those on board the flight, it should be reassuring to the traveling public that the aviation industry takes safety seriously and is constantly working to improve its practices and procedures.

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