With a winter storm moving into the state, officials at the Des Moines International Airport are advising travelers to keep a close watch on flight delays and cancellations.

Airport spokeswoman Kayla Kovarna says ground crews will be taking time to prevent ice buildup on planes and that’s what often causes delays.

“Aircraft have to be pushed back to a special area on the ramp so that we can collect that chemical,” Kovarna says. “So they get pushed back, then the aircraft is de-iced, and then it has to be cleared by air traffic control to take off.”

Kovarna says the quickest way to get news of delays and cancellations is through a specific airline’s mobile app.

The airport expects to see an uptick in passengers this holiday season with up to 70,ooo people departing from Des Moines over the last two weeks of December.

Kovarna says travelers can expect to wait longer getting on and off their flights as ground crews clear ice from the planes.

“Ground crews, they are responsible for both that de-icing and de-planing,” she says, “so, give them some grace, pack that ‘Iowa nice’ and just be patient because it might take you a little bit longer to get to the gate and de-planed.”

Kovarna says airport staff are in charge of clearing snow from runways, but it’s the airlines that make the call to delay or cancel flights. She says the Des Moines airport has never closed completely for weather since the Airport Authority took over management in 2011.

(Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)

Radio Iowa