Airlines Are Working Hard To Keep Employees Warm During Polar Vortex
By Sharelle Burt
Mother Nature has stepped in to remind us that winter is still very much here. The Midwest is experiencing some dangerous temperatures, dropping way below zero but life still has to go on.
For those working at the airport, airlines are going above and beyond to protect their employees during this polar vortex. At Midway International Airport in Chicago, Southwest Airlines is supplying employees with industrial-grade coats, gloves and face masks to keep them warm. On top of that, curbside check-in has also been canceled. Sorry, travelers.
American Airlines cares about their workers too. The airline set up a mini command center on Tuesday and Wednesday where they will deliver hand warmers, extra gloves, hot chocolate, coffee and tea to the baggage handlers and other workers freezing outside. United Airlines added temporary heated shelters and is even bringing in ramp workers from other cities to rotate into the schedule so outside employees can get a break from the cold.
In case you don’t know how cold it is in the Midwest, temperatures in Chicago dropped to -21 degrees, which is almost colder than Antartica. While planes are built to handle these types of weather conditions, they still need to be catered to and protected. “Airplanes themselves operate at these temperatures all the time up at 30,000 feet,” American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott said. “But when you get them on the ground there are just things that pop up, like frozen water lines and cargo doors freezing shut.” The same goes for their employees. American understands the fact that some workers may not even make it in because of the weather. “We’re trying to plan for what we know and what we’ve experienced in the past, but there’s a little bit of unknown here.”
More than 1,400 flights have been canceled because employees need to stay safe. Airports in Detroit, Chico, Indianapolis, and St. Louis all had canceled flights for numerous airlines. “Because of these physical limitations, arrival and departure operations are reduced to help us meet the challenges presented by Winter Storm Jayden as we continually keep the safety of our employees and customers our top priority,” Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said.