Last updated: 11:00 AM ET, Tue October 11 2016

Spilled Bucket of Formaldehyde Damages Luggage on Alaska Airlines Flight

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | October 11, 2016

Spilled Bucket of Formaldehyde Damages Luggage on Alaska Airlines Flight

Photo: Alaska Airlines airplane midflight. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Over the weekend, Alaska Airlines was forced to hold more than 100 pieces of luggage after a container filled with formaldehyde leaked in the cargo hold of the airplane during a flight.

According to the Alaska Dispatch News, Alaska Airlines Flight 55 flew from Barrow to Fairbanks in Alaska with two pieces of checked luggage which were described as “buckets containing fish and formaldehyde.”

The passenger did not tell Alaska Airlines customer service representatives about the hazardous chemical and the buckets were loaded onto the plane with the other baggage. During the flight, though, one of the containers began to leak. When airport employees began to unload the luggage in Fairbanks, they noticed a strong chemical smell coming from the cargo hold.

The formaldehyde—used for preservation by mortuaries and medical laboratories—leaked on other pieces of baggage, and Alaska Airlines made the decision to hold all of the luggage until a company specializing in hazardous materials cleaned up the spill and could ensure the bags were not contaminated.

Luckily, there were no pets in the cargo hold of the plane at the time of the spill.

The hazardous materials company tested and cleared all but one of the bags, and the airline was reaching out to passengers to discuss compensation for the incident. Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Nancy Trott said she was not aware of any kind of criminal investigation related to the spill.

In a follow-up report from, Alaska Airlines has issued a $500 travel voucher to all passengers on the flight. The airline was also paying for all contents ruined by the formaldehyde accident.


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