Quick disclaimer: I’m very tired and stressed out and I know this may all sound a bit mad, but as I’m driving myself mad, why not share it?

It’s so icy here! And I’ve been reading about what airports do when it’s snowy and icy but I’m still scared about my flight (in 10 days.)  I keep checking the airport website, especially when it’s snowing heavily, to see if flights are still taking off. (Usually they're just delayed a lot.)

Every time it snows, it settles and builds up so quickly, and it’s too cold for it to melt! This bulldozer thing clears it from the road through the campus, but all it really does is skim off the fresh snow (i.e. the stuff you can walk on) and smooth down and compact the bottom layer leaving sheet ice. And that’s a sheltered road in the city. The airport is outside the city in exposed countryside. How can they possibly keep the runway free of ice? I’ve been wearing mini-crampons to be able to walk safely to work. Everyone’s got snow-tyres on their cars. What do planes do to keep from skidding off the runway and crashing when they accelerate for take-off?

And the de-icer, does it always work 100% of the time? Is it possible the wings could ice up enough that the plane couldn’t take off? And how do the pilots know?

I feel like I should be able to come up with my own answers and reassure myself, but it’s not working so I was hoping that someone here could be my voice of reason. I’ve not felt this anxious for months and months.

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Am I sure ? Yup I've been flying since 1959 and I'm sure. There's no benefit to me or you if I tell you what you want to hear. I tell you what you NEED to hear.

So now I'm going to make you a deal you can't refuse.

5 more questions and then no more answers. OK?


Q1. Why?

Q2. Is there really nothing more difficult or dangerous about taking off or landing in snowy/freezing weather?

Q3. How come in bad weather some flights are cancelled and others are only delayed? Are the ones that cancel altogether playing it safe while the ones who take off are risking it? That can’t be the case, can it? What other factors are involved?

Q4. I guess Q3 might count as multiple questions so I’ll make this one non-flying related. Where’s your blog gone? It appears to have vanished.

Q5. Saving this one, just in case.



Q2 promise you there isn't .  I flew in Scotland for 7 years so I have had a lot of experience of snow  and ice. REmember those performance charts in the workshop booklet from the course...we have additional ones for  snow conditions.

Q3 Other factors  passengers can't get to airport so airline cancels flight

 ground equipment  (catering trucks etc) get  frozen up.  more spacing required between landing aircraft and departing aircraft as clearance of snow etc takes place. airport ground traffic gets congested because of snow/ice remember the priority is aircraft taxiways and runways .People don't get to work so staff shortages  occur.  lots of ordinary things.

Q4 blog is being redirected ....when we launched new site the sub domain disconnected

Q5 Just in case eh?  The system of back up we use in aviation  we do lots of things  ...just in case!


Snow tyres are for traction...to deliver the power from the engines to the road on a plane the wheels don't  transmit  the power.  So we don't rely on traction/friction with the runway.

Thrust comes from the engines into the air,  if you did jet propulsion on a car it wouldn't skid...until you wanted to go round a corner...and planes don't turn that sharply on the ground.



Q1 Why? Was 'why the 5 question limit?'

And thanks for the other answers. To be honest, I'm feeling much better about it all now. Last week I was just exhausted and stressed and then the stupid snow started and everyone at work was talking about flying cos we're all off on holiday next week.

I haven't forgotten what I learnt on the course. Promise :)

There has to be a limit,  otherwise you'll keep asking me more and more and it'll become a dependancy.

At some stage you'll have to answer your own questions.

But since you mention it  you can have another 5!


спасибо большое :)

5 just in cases. That's quite a lot!

Thanks again Keith, and have a good holiday if you have one too.

I feel a bit awkward reviving this thread but, well... it's snowing (and has been all afternoon/evening), it's foggy and it's freezing (-11). My flight's in less than 12 hours and I'm nervous and can't sleep.

I just feel a bit rubbish and could use some last-minute reassurance/encouragement.


Hi Sarah 

I felt the same way you did a week ago as I waited for my flight from Tokyo to HK. Just remember that flights are taking off and landing in cold weather as I write this. For the pilots and cabin crew, this is all part of their job, which they do very well every day. Remember this. 

And no matter what happens, I know you're prepared for the flight. You said earlier that you have your own coping techniques and if the need should arise, I know your right instincts will all kick in. 

Just think of what's waiting for you at the end of the flight, wonderful family and friends whom you haven't seen in a while. And delicious Christmas dinners and presents! 

I'll be thinking of you and sending you positive energy and moral support from Singapore. You can totally do this! 

Happy holidays :)

Cheers, Lyn 

Aw, thanks Lyn.

I'm at the airport now and it's STILL snowing (and foggy, cold, etc)

But I've got two colleagues with me who I suppose are being comforting.

I'll message you when I get there.



We'll look forward to getting your message

Well done  again.


I'm back in the UK :)

It's been a long day! There was a technical delay when something in the door to the cargo hold iced up, and that meant we lost our place in the queue to be de-iced. So the flight was very delayed but once we took off it was fine. And my colleague seemed very impressed by all the stuff I told him and it was actually helpful to have someone sympathetic to talk to.

Thanks so much everyone for all the help.

Keith, I just saw your post on facebook, I hope you have a fantastic and relaxing Christmas.

Happy holidays everyone


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