Chicago’s Freezing Airport Drama: A Winter Travel Nightmare Unfolds [Roundup]

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Well, I’m sitting in ORd terminal 2 and so far so good. That said, fuel seems to be the issue with underground fuel lines freezing up because of the cold. That’s what my gate agent here was just telling me. But the cold is all over and most of the Midwest is affected.

  2. Seeing that picture/tweet of tipping Delta FA’s:
    If the flight is a Delta flight, you should absolutely tip each flight attendant $100 for the privelege of flying the world’s #1 PREMIER airline! And don’t forget to tip the pilots $250 each for getting you there.

  3. Hmmm… how about people choosing to live in Minnesota, with the delta monopoly as a bonus on top of the lovely weather?

  4. Update from ORD: the delays are piling up as the morning goes on. Issues with fueling seem to be the main problem. Too few fuel trucks for too many aircraft. About half of the United departure board showing delays or cancellations at this point (9:10 CST). Not good.

  5. @AngryFlier: That’s been an issue for a couple of days now. I flew UA mainline out of T2 last night and took a 45 minute delay to board waiting on a fuel truck. Then another 45 minutes waiting for someone to come push the plane back…

  6. As someone who lives in Chicago, there are far worse places. This cold weather happens once every few years, it’s not like it’s this cold for months.
    And we are not hub captive. Lots of choices and options.

  7. Had a cold weather fueling issue years ago in 2006 on an AA 772 ORD-PVG flight. The fuel was moving, but much slower than normal. As you can imagine with a flight to PVG, it took a LONG time to fuel the aircraft. We had a two hour delay as a result.

  8. Lxf, I live in Minnesota. It’s hot in the summer, cold in the winter (though good this year through December) and quite pretty and comfortable in the spring and fall. There are worse places, especially since the government is quite clean and overall things are pretty efficient. The local airline, Sun Country, is pathetic but American has a very strong presence and it has been many years since I’ve needed a Delta connection.

  9. Hey, Marcus Daugherty, which one of the FOUR “Gate 14s” that AA controls at ORD were you at? There’s a significant difference between those locations. And before you start tweeting again, how about learning English instead of West Side Ebonics?

    And as to why I live in Chicago, I was born in Chicago, and no matter how far or where I travel and set up shop, it’s still my home. And, Brian, I made myself hub captive to UA. It was great at the time to have the choice, though.

  10. Regarding the Cold Chicago Terminal deal (T3), I was there this morning, and it was totally weird. Landing around 8:45 am on the 06:16 AA flight out of Austin, it was super cold in the jetway and for the first 20 feet into the terminal, but you expect that. Continuing the walk down the H Concourse toward Baggage Claim, it stayed incredibly cold inside the terminal until the Y where the H and K Concourses meet (past the crossover to the Admiral’s Club, and past the food court). Passengers who had unzipped or stowed their coat were actually putting them back on, never seen that before !

  11. I choose to live in Chicago because it’s a great city and I am from the Caribbean. By the way, Chicago is one of a handful of airports in the world with non-stop flights to 6 continents (excluding Antarctica) and I have been to all of them including Antarctica.
    There’s no bad weather, only bad outerwear.

  12. What a horrible lounge to get married in Aspire San Diego.Its so bad I use the terminal seating as too many have access too it! When it opened at least they offered bottled sparkling
    Did i mention their cruddy buffet?
    Hilton San Francsico was a fair hotel when it opened with horrible slow elevators
    But San Francisco is struggling to fill rooms yet hotels are trying to act like business as normal
    With some properties like the Marriott Jay hotel overpricing and under delivering Bonvoid benefits
    Good luck to them!

  13. Gary I don’t understand your gripe with Chicago. It’s like New York but with worse winters, nicer people, and a subway system that takes you to the airport. As a frequent traveler you also have your choice of two huge carriers with megahubs there which is unheard of elsewhere in the country.

  14. @ Brian

    Really? Are you a native? I lived in Chicago over 35 years & it is cold every year for months. Then you get freezing drizzle. Only reason to live in Chicago is to do business, which the current crew is intent on killing. I am writing this from Bali.

  15. Three huge carriers with megahubs – UA, AA at ORD and WN at MDW.

    I second and third some of the above comments. I can’t even imagine living in Texas, so it’s a good thing the world is a big place with lots of choices! My choice is Chicago, for a ton of reasons including the filter that is winter.

  16. @Gary I’ve lived in Tokyo most of my life. I eat out a lot. I have never once seen anyone eat salad with a spoon. Ever. It is not a thing, trust me.

  17. I am used to using a spoon as my main eating utensil when in Southeast Asia. I don’t mind that other countries have other customs and are not required to follow western sensibilities. For a sanitary observation, a spoon is much easier to clean than a fork for food service and it is easier to inspect to see if it is clean, too.

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