Hundreds of flights cancelled or delayed at Denver International Airport due to severe cold

By Jim Lawson on January 14, 2024
(Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Hundreds of flights cancelled or delayed at Denver International Airport due to severe cold.

Today, Sunday, Denver International airport experienced the cancellation or delay of numerous flights due to the severe winter weather sweeping through both the state and the nation. As of 11:30 a.m. today, there were 165 flights canceled and 284 flights delayed at Denver International Airport, according to FlightAware. There were also 87 flights canceled for Monday.

On Saturday, there were 162 flights canceled and 805 flights delayed. Colorado experienced the arrival of an Arctic cold front on Friday, which resulted in frigid temperatures and snowfall across the state. The National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Warnings until Tuesday morning. As always, it’s best to contact your airline or monitor your flights status on your airlines website or app.

What causes delays in frigid conditions?

It’s not the freezing cold temperatures that cause problems for planes. After all, commercial jets fly 6 miles up, where temperatures hover around -60 degrees. In fact, planes excel in cold weather, since cold air is denser and leads to better thrust. So clearly, the real problem isn’t what’s going on up there. It’s what happens on the ground.

When temperatures start dropping, everything slows down. Cargo doors can freeze up, along with the nozzles that pump fuel into planes, which delays the refueling process.

The number one reason flights get delayed in cold weather is going to be because there’s some kind of frozen precipitation, from frost to snow to a sheet of ice, adhering to the aircraft.

The human factor plays a significant role when the temperature drops drastically. Baggage handlers, aircraft fuelers, and mechanics all need to ensure they stay warm in order to carry out their duties. However, the need for frequent breaks to keep warm results in decreased productivity, leading to more delays and flight cancellations. Consequently, passengers experience missed connections, compounded by those who are unable to reach the airport due to hazardous road conditions, resulting in partially empty planes.

In fact, many airlines may proactively cancel flights even before inclement weather strikes. This decision is made because it is simply not economically viable to operate flights with a minimal number of passengers. Ultimately, the cold weather can still be held responsible for flight cancellations. Unfortunately, this is a circumstance beyond our control.


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