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Logic will tell you that only bad things can happen when a city in the south like Houston (or Atlanta for that matter!) gets hit with a winter storm. We can handle relatively cold temperatures for a while, but add some snow and/or ice and it gets ugly in a hurry if you are trying to do anything other than stay home.
It gets really ugly if you are trying to fly. As luck would have it, I had a flight out of Houston on a day that saw some freezing precipitation this week. Many, maybe even most, flights out of IAH cancelled the night before, but mine remained on schedule. I thought seriously about delaying or cancelling my trip even though my flight showed on schedule as I knew there were likely to be problems, but I didn’t really have a good time to move it to, so I just crossed my fingers. I also knew that because my plane, the 787 Dreamliner, connects on to Narita in Denver that they really needed it to get to Colorado if at all possible. Were it not for that, my flight would almost surely have never had a chance.
I got to the airport a little bit before the weather hit (I would not have driven on icy roads just to try and catch a flight), and we boarded on schedule. We were settled in our (comfy) seats, had a drink service, and then the bad news started.
Maintenance came on for a “minor issue that should take 10 minutes”. Around that time the weather started. The temperatures were below freezing and the rain was turning to icy on the plane.
Yeah, 10 minutes wasn’t going to happen. It quickly became an hour, and then we heard there was a problem with the mixture deicing was using. After about two hours we deplaned due to “an indefinite delay”. At this point I really thought we weren’t going anywhere, but I also didn’t want to drive home on the roads that may now also have some icy spots, so I stuck around to see what would happen. This was kind of my “worst case scenario”. However, after literally 5 minutes they re-boarded everyone ,and shortly thereafter taxied away from the gate…to get in line for deicing.
Houston does have deicing but it seems they have enough for literally one plane at a time. Each plane they did took close to 30 minutes, so even though there were only two planes ahead of us, that meant another 90 minutes before we would be airborne.
It was my first time getting deiced in Houston though, so that was a plus…I think. Since I was on the Dreamliner in BusinessFirst I also got to sleep off all our delays in a lie-flat bed on the way to Denver, so that was fantastic! We did finally make it to Denver, and that should be counted as a victory as most planes didn’t go anywhere that day. Knowing that this plane was very much needed swayed my decision to try and travel that day, however normally I far prefer to bail on plans early on when it looks like there is a high likelihood of trouble.
In this case all I lost was an afternoon of snowboarding, but thankfully I didn’t lose it all.
Stay tuned for an update on the renovations my favorite ski hotel, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, has completed!
Traveling out of Houston during an ice storm is very much not advisable as the airport just can’t handle it very well, but in this case I was able to escape the Houston ice to find some Colorado snow! Has the recent crazy weather impacted any of your travel plans? What did you do to minimize the impact?