Chaos In Chicago: Southwest Airlines Runs Out Of De-Icer At Midway Airport, All Flights Cancelled


Southwest Airlines ran into quite a predicament at Chicago’s Midway Airport on Sunday afternoon and at night as they ran out of de-icing chemicals resulting in all flights ex Midway being cancelled.

After running low and eventually out of glycol deicing fluid Southwest saw no other option other than cancelling all remaining flights which is the second such incidents in two months related to deicing procedures.

Adverse weather situations often cause havoc all over the world but winter weather in Chicago is the norm rather than the exception and given the fact that Southwest had to cancel 90 flights on a December Day due to similar deicing issues has a slight taste of negligence coming with it.

You can read a detailed account in the Chicago Tribune (access here).

On Sunday, the Chicago Department of Aviation’s website showed cancellations of all Southwest Airlines flights departing Midway. A Southwest Airlines representative sent a written statement in response to inquiries regarding the flights.

“Throughout the storms, we’ve actively worked to manage our glycol levels (used to de-ice aircraft) but due to the severity of the winter weather Southwest has proactively canceled about 220 flights as of midday Sunday,” the representative wrote.

Additionally, in a response to a passenger question on Twitter about Midway, a Southwest representative wrote: “Due to having to de-ice many of our aircraft because of the weather, we are running low on de-icing fluid.”

“Flights have been cancelled due to Operational challenges due to the lack of deicing fluid in Midway,” the company also said on Twitter. …

DeYoung was told the flights were canceled because of weather, but he said if it had only been weather, it likely would have affected more than a single airline. The Twitter account for Midway reported that more than 250 flights were canceled Sunday, which means 30 flights with different airlines also were canceled.

“It ended up what we heard from multiple sources was they did not get their supply of de-icer and didn’t have enough to de-ice the planes,” DeYoung said. “It would be nice if Southwest could do something for us, but that probably comes under the heading of ‘weather problems.”

This sort of situation has nothing to do with weather problems as in that the weather itself would prevent planes from taking off. Using the proper methods of deicing and having the material available is elementary to proper operations and it would have been absolutely possible for Southwest to operate the majority of their flights yesterday had they kept a proper amount of chemicals in stock. How come they take delivery of such vital equipment on such short notice? Negligence!


Affected passengers should definitely complain to the Department of Transportation related to this incident. Southwest shouldn’t get away with negligent operations and as such I’d also expect a suitable compensation for those customers who experienced cancellations.

Does Southwest really operate 220 flights out of Midway per day? Sounds like a rather high number.