De-icing delays cause big backups at SEA

Nov 30, 2022, 5:49 AM | Updated: 7:12 am
Photo from KIRO 7

More than 500 flights were delayed and nearly 200 canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Tuesday, mostly because of de-icing after a snowfall.

The airport was open and the runways clear of snow, but a jam-up of planes on the taxiway from de-icing delays had a cascading effect on airline schedules and passenger travel plans.

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Around midday, a line of planes could be seen just sitting at the airport.

Arriving flights had to wait for departing planes to be de-iced and free up space at the gate.

Keith Lowe said his flight from Houston sat two hours after landing.

“I’ve been flying for years; I’ve never had to wait two hours. People were getting kind of antsy,” he said.

Alaska Airlines said arriving flights had taxi-in times averaging 58 minutes.

For departing flights, the average taxi-out time was 68 minutes.

Alaska confirms one of its flights waited so long for de-icing, the crew pushed past their duty time and the plane returned to the gate.

“Originally, they said it would be 45 minutes, then another 45 minutes, then another 45 minutes. ‘Oh, guess what? We’ll give you a cookie and go back to the gate,’” said George Hemminger, who was on a flight to Florida.

Despite the de-icing delays, planes were landing and taking off, and airport officials said they were able to keep runways and taxiways clear.

“We try and avoid the snow sticking to those surfaces. That’s a key for us; we don’t want that snow to be turned into ice,” said Perry Cooper of the Port of Seattle.

Airlines are in charge of de-icing. Some de-icing is done at gates, others at de-icing stations.

Alaska Airlines says it can take up to a half hour to de-ice a plane. The airline says it proactively canceled about a hundred flights to relieve the pressure at SEA.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

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De-icing delays cause big backups at SEA