January 5, 2005 pt1 – Too cold to take off

I was awake at 4:45am Winnipeg time, and managed to get to the airport at 5:30. It was below minus 35 degrees outside, so I was looking forward to getting back to a more sensible winter in Japan.

When I checked my bags, the employee at the Northwest airlines counter switched my seat on the Minneapolis to Tokyo flight so I could sit in an exit row. I am not a very tall person so leg room is not usually an issue on flights, but I was not about to turn down extra space. After checking in, I was pleasantly surprised that my friend Janet woke up early to meet me at the airport for a farewell Tim Hortons coffee.

After a short visit, I went through security where I was randomly selected to have my bag searched and shoes X-rayed. This was my first time ever to be selected for this kind of screening. It was a minor annoyance and was over quickly.

The major annoyance came at boarding time. Northwest announced that the air temperature on the runway was -35 degrees, and that their deicing fluid was only certified to -33 degrees. They said that we could not take off until the temperature increased enough to deice the plane.

There are a lot of annoying delays with air travel. However, people are far less likely to complain about delays related to safety. Nobody wants to take a chance with frozen wings on a plane. After about 30 minutes of waiting, Northwest announced that they were going to borrow some of Air Canada’s heavy duty deicing fluid so we could finally leave. I am not sure why Northwest didn’t have the serious deicing fluid in Winnipeg (Winterpeg), but that was probably a decision by someone in a warm office somewhere far to the south.

Remember friends – when traveling in the winter, make sure there is lots of time to catch a connecting flight in case it is too cold too take off.

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