The next time your flight is delayed due to weather, try to muster up some patience. Air travel during stormy weather can be a challenging experience for both travelers and airport management. Just ask anyone in the northeast who had travel plans during the recent snowstorms. Travelers are eager to get to their destinations, and airport personnel work hard to get them there safely.

Since no one can control the weather, it’s important to know how airports follow strict protocol to maintain the safety of all passengers.

Before the Storm

Navigating through a storm begins with monitoring the impending weather so that airport management can begin the process of securing the area. Some of the measures that may be taken include:

Securing Equipment

To avoid equipment from being damaged in a storm, personnel will secure and relocate equipment such as tugs and pullies (the equipment that pulls and pushes an aircraft) to an area close to the terminal or gate area.

Evacuating Aircraft

To protect the airplanes, dispatchers will assign planes to be evacuated to different hubs or airport gating areas in various parts of the country where the storm is not expected to hit.

During the Storm

Travelers should expect flight delays and cancellations during inclement weather. One might suspect it’s the inability for the airplane to navigate in the less than ideal weather, but knowing the intense protocol airports enforce to keep passengers safe may encourage more patience. Here is a snapshot of what happens:

Increased Personnel in the Air Traffic Control Tower

During an active storm, there is intense communication to ensure everyone’s safety. It’s important to have extra personnel in the control tower to make sure everything is being communicated effectively and that all inquiries are being answered in real-time.


Depending on the size of the aircraft, de-icing can take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes. De-icing is only performed on departing planes and planes scheduled for a turnaround flight. Clearing alley and taxi ways is also part of the de-icing process. Here is how it’s done:

  • Trucks remove snow from alley ways, taxi ways and gate areas and bring it to a steamer where it is melted immediately. Maintenance crews are always on call to repair any steamer that is malfunctioning to prevent snow from piling up.
  • Planes are de-iced on the alley way prior to departing. Four de-icing machines work to remove all the standing snow that has accumulated on the aircraft. Once all the snow has been removed, a special liquid is then put on the plane to prevent additional snow from sticking to it.
  • Arriving aircraft that are not scheduled for a turnaround flight do not get de-iced and are sent to a hangar.

Working Together

Maintaining air traffic is critical for smooth and safe airport operations, so it’s important that all airport personnel do their part. These are the steps that are put into place to get a plane off the ground:

  • Fueling the Plane
  • “Catering” the Plane―Replenishing the plane with refreshments, etc.
  • Instilling Customer Service―Boarding passengers safely onto the plane and loading luggage and cargo.
  • Attending to the Pilot’s Needs―Pilots may request maintenance checks or personal items.
  • Disconnecting the Jet Bridge―Ensuring the bridge is disconnected prior to take off.

Thoughts from a Vaughn Alumnus

“Understanding airport management and protocols is the key to a successful career,” said Patrick Batey ’16, a graduate of Vaughn College’s airport management program. Batey credits Vaughn with being instrumental in preparing him for his career in aviation. “Everything I learned at Vaughn, I have used as stepping stones to get me where I am today. I love the aviation industry and Vaughn was there every step of the way to help me live my dream.”

College life is an exciting time to broaden your horizons and explore new possibilities. If you’re a student commuter, living off campus doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the excitement. In fact, most students who commute would agree that joining clubs and campus activities is a great way to stay connected with your college while maintaining your independence and having a well-rounded experience.

Get Involved and Stay Connected as a Commuter

College students have earned their rite of passage to live an independent lifestyle, even if they are living at home. With college costs continuing to soar, know that you’re not alone as more students are opting to commute.

If you’re a commuter student, you understand the challenge of maintaining the balance of studying and your home life. Here are some tips on how to maintain your independence while living at home:

  • Utilize the library and college resources —Ideal for quiet time and bonding with students and faculty.
  • Embrace a hobby by joining a club—You may have found that since some of your friends have gone away to college, your social life isn’t what it used to be. Joining a club is a great way to embrace an old hobby or establish a new one (such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), robotics, academics, music, art, theater – just to name a few). It’s a fun way to get out of the house and carve out some much needed “me” time to refuel and keep yourself focused.
  • Join a sports teams—Joining clubs isn’t the only way to stay connected on campus. Tap into your athletic side by joining a sports team or lend support to teams by attending games and cheering them on.
  • Respect for privacy—Although respect is a two-way street when living at home, making your needs known for quiet study time is crucial for your success as well as for living in a harmonious household.
  • Save your money—Living at home is saving you a considerable amount of money when compared to the costs of on-campus housing, so take advantage of the time and begin saving for your future while you’re in school.

What can you do at Vaughn College?

Vaughn offers a wide range of clubs and on-campus activities to make your college experience even better. With many on-campus clubs, some students find it hard to choose just one. And if you love participating in sports, then Vaughn’s athletics department is where you want to be. With programs for both men and women, you can find your niche and be a part of the action, even if you’re a commuter. For the spectator, attending games and cheering on your team is a fun way to stay connected on-campus as you support your team and classmates.

Our diverse student body is matched by our selection of clubs that are tailored for students’ specific interests. Vaughn encourages its students to join as many clubs as their time allows. And if your passion fuels you to start your own club, our door is always open to hear your thoughts and ideas.

We invite you to learn more about our on-campus clubs and activities. Most meet weekly during our “common hour” between 11 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check them out. We look forward to seeing you there!