Seven Alaska and Horizon Air employees, as well as 25 family members and friends, had flown standby from Puerto Vallarta, after taking advantage of employee-discounted plane tickets to spend a long weekend at the Mexican resort. During the slower times of the year, it is not uncommon for a flight to have a large number of airline employees filling otherwise empty seats, company officials said.
There was Sarah Pearson, a Seattle-based flight attendant. She was traveling with her husband, Rodney, daughter Rachel and their infant. On the same flight, Ileana Ost, a customer service agent based in San Francisco, was sitting with her husband, Bob, and their baby. Portland, Ore.-based flight attendant James J. Ryan was traveling with his parents and brother.
The airline's last fatal accident occurred in 1976, when one person died after a Boeing 727 overran a runway in Ketchikan, Alaska. In 1971, 111 people died when an Alaska Airlines 727 smashed into a mountain on approach to Juneau, Alaska.