Flight bound for PDX diverted to Yakima due to mechanical problem

PORTLAND, Ore. - An Alaska Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Portland was forced to land in Yakima, Wash. due to a mechanical problem.

Passenger Natalie Norcross told KATU the flight took off at around 10 p.m. Thursday and was scheduled to land in Portland around midnight. She didn't say what time the plane landed in Yakima, but said it circled around for a while before landing.

Norcross said passengers were allowed off the plane around 5:30 a.m. and were scheduled to board another plane to PDX at around 8 a.m.

An Alaska Airlines spokesman said a piece of equipment that helps planes land in heavy fog malfunctioned. With heavy fog in Portland and also at SeaTac airport, the plane had to land in Yakima. The plane landed in Yakima around 12:30 a.m. Friday, about 30 minutes after its scheduled landing in Portland.

"Within 30 minutes of landing in Yakima, we had flight attendants offering passengers water and juice," Paul McElroy said. "Passengers were also given food."

Alaska Airlines called a mechanic to work on the plane. But he had to drive from Pasco, Wash. more than an hour away. The airline decided to fly another plane to Yakima and pick up the 93 passengers.

"The crew made an annoucement on the PA about people being allowed off the plane," McElroy said. "But after they landed, there was no other announcement. So people who were sleeping may have missed the announcment. Flight attendants were quietly talking to passengers letting them know about the situation."

Norcross said the situation was different.

"Well, they made us stay on the plane for a few hours, saying we couldn't get off the plane because the airport was closed and there were no employees," she said. "Then maybe about 3:00 they let us off for 30 minutes or so, and then made us get back on the plane until 5:30."

McElroy said passengers were offered coffee and donuts around 5:40 a.m. He added the second plane was expected to land in Yakima around 8:15 a.m., and the flight to Portland should take off around 8:45.

Passengers were expected to be at Portland International Airport around 9:45 Friday morning.