5G rollout continues to disrupt regional air travel, here’s why

As you may have heard in the news, AT&T and Verizon agreed to limit the use of 5G C-Band signals near major airports. This action was essential to avoiding a catastrophic disruption among travelers, shipping and the global supply chain and the U.S. economy. 

While we appreciate the efforts of the telecom industry and government agencies to avert the most significant impacts, the rollout of this new 5G band is still creating disruptions for regional air travel.  

In a nutshell, the new 5G C-band, when deployed within a certain distance of an airport, interferes with vital flight technology used to navigate aircraft during challenging weather and low visibility. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued flight restrictions that limit the ability of some aircraft to land in certain weather conditions.  

Since the agreement was reached, Alaska’s Boeing and Airbus aircraft have been cleared for low visibility landings by the FAA. However, some of our regional jets have not yet been cleared at certain airports and are still subject to restrictions on landing/takeoff during low visibility conditions (such as dense fog or winter weather). Until this issue is further analyzed and other solutions are provided this may cause some cancellations, delays and diversions.  

Alaska and the aviation industry as a whole has a zero risk mindset and will not fly if there are any concerns with safety. That’s why we have advocated for buffer zones near airports and continue to encourage the telecom industry, FCC and FAA to develop a long-term approach that will allow 5G and aviation to safely co-exist. 

To minimize the impact the FAA’s 5G-related restrictions may have on your travel, please follow these tips:   

  • Always check the status of your flight before leaving for the airport. You can do this online or on the Alaska mobile app.   
  • If your flight is impacted, manage your travel online.   
  • We are always here to help.  Text 82008 or call 1-800-252-7522 for assistance with your reservation.   

We know this situation is frustrating and disruptive to those impacted and we’re asking the government to ensure an effective, safe, reliable and sustainable solution to get all our aircraft back to normal operations.   

This post was originally published on Jan. 24, 2022 and updated on Feb. 3, 2022.