Frozen Airplane

When we flew to California last Monday, the thermometer read 1 degree. I guess one is better than none, but it was cold. [How cold was it, Eric?] It was so cold that our plane froze. As in, the airline couldn’t start the plane because the engine was frozen.

This seemed odd, because surely frozen airplanes can be anticipated and avoided. After all, as cold as 1 degree is, it gets colder–much colder–in Milwaukee and other cold-weather airports, and it’s not like the cold temperatures were unexpected. Maybe the airline was feeding us a line, but if the plane truly was frozen, I think someone screwed up. Don’t they have engine heaters for airplanes?

To Delta’s credit, virtually without hesitation they immediately made arrangements to put passengers with connections on other flights. However, these types of scrambles almost always set in motion a series of events that inevitably result in unhappy travelers.

In our case, we switched to a United flight but, unsurprisingly, our bags didn’t make it. And after waiting 2 hours in the San Francisco airport for our bags to arrive on the next flight, we were disheartened to find only 3 of 5 made it. However, to United’s credit, they did deliver both of the missing bags within 30 hours, and they did (grudgingly) loan us a carseat to allow us to drive home safely.

However, I’m still stuck on how an airplane freezes. Of the many things that can go wrong during Winter travel, this never occurred to me as one of the major risks.

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