If there is one problem that has been hitting the travel industry hard as of late, it is the weather. Places like the UK and the United States have been slammed by bad weather, which has led to a huge rise in flight cancellations and travel delays.
In the United States, snowstorms and freezing temperatures caused more than 4,100 cancellations on Tuesday alone. On that same day, there were also more than 8,000 delays. This information was brought to light by FlightAware.com. These delays and cancellations carried over into Wednesday, and they are expected to continue throughout the week.
In many places in the United States, temperatures have become extremely cold. Meteorologists are saying that this extreme cold has been caused by a polar vortex. In short, this vortex of cold air has brought temperatures down to below zero. That being said, extremely cold temperatures do not affect the planes themselves. Planes are made to stand up to extremely cold temperatures. In fact, temperatures outside a plane during flight can reach negative 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, cold temperatures affect the ground operations of the airline, which is causing all of the delays and cancellations.
Reports from many airlines, such as JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, show that some of their ground equipment is not working correctly. This includes devices like deicing machines that are supposed to help get ice off the wings of the plane. Other problems have been seen with the baggage tugs, fuel trucks and even lavatory services. One example of these problems has been seen with the belt loaders used to carry bags onto planes. These devices are very vulnerable to cold weather. They have a hard time starting when they are cold, much like how a car that is cold has a hard time starting.
When devices like these break down they are typically taken in for repair. However, due to the number of breakdowns as of late, the airlines are backed up with repairs. This has caused a number of delays and cancellations because the airlines do not have the ground equipment to run their services normally.
Another problem is the fact that the airport workers are only able to work in short shifts. This is because the temperatures outside are too cold. There have been reports of some mechanics and other workers getting frostbitten for working outside too long in the cold. To avoid this, the airlines have cut back on everyone’s shifts. After a certain amount of time, they have to go back inside and warm up for a while before they are allowed to go back out.
Even the fuel that the airlines use to power their ground equipment is vulnerable to cold. Diesel fuel turns into a jelly-like substance when it gets too cold. When it turns into this jelly, it cannot be pumped into the vehicles. The jet fuel is fine because it has been blended to perform in extremely cold temperatures.