Some airline flights were canceled even before the impact of this week’s storm hit the Des Moines International Airport last night. Airport spokesman Roy Criss says at some point the airlines decided they had to make the choice whether to cancel in anticipation of weather-related problems. He says they just have to take the information available and make the best decisions they can. He points out weather at other airports around the nation affect those here with a “ripple effect,” as do the size of the plane and what direction it’ll be heading. Airlines hate to disappoint travelers but he says sometimes they just have to cancel. While flights are the realm of the airline companies, cleaning up during and after the storm is a task for airport workers on the ground. “They do the same thing you do at home, they just do it on a bigger scale,” Criss says. They use big graders and trucks, plowing a runway like DOT trucks plow a section of road. Criss says after doing one runway they’ll open it to planes and close another to plow it, so there’s always a runway open at the airport. Airplanes also must be treated with de-icing chemicals to keep them safe after they’ve left the ground. Private businesses on the airport and some airline staff handle the de-icing chores. He says it doesn’t take a very thick coating of ice to change the characteristics of a plane’s wing, so they have to do it carefully. Travelers and people planning to pick up arriving friends or relatives are advised to call their airline’s reservation or flight-confirmation 800 numbers to get the latest on cancellations and delays.
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