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Passengers Stranded on Airplane for 8 Hours After De-Icing Trucks Run Out of Fuel

Passengers Stranded on Airplane for 8 Hours After De-Icing Trucks Run Out of Fuel


On January 15, an American Airlines flight from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to Nashville International Airport (BNA) was stuck on the ramp for over eight hours. American Airlines flight 4275 (AA 4275) departed DCA at 10:52 a.m. and landed shortly before 2:00 p.m. local time. However, even though the plane already landed, passengers onboard were not able to disembark until approximately 10:00 p.m. local time. 


Photo: AeroXplorer | Noah G.


The Incident


The problems began when the valve used to refuel deicing trucks froze due to cold weather. Deicing is essential for aircraft operations in cold weather since it helps remove ice, snow, and frost from the plane to accommodate a safe takeoff and flight.




The airport attempted to continue operations after multiple flights were stuck in a line on the ramp. A plan to bring airstairs to remove passengers from the aircraft failed since the airstairs never arrived. Although one flight successfully disembarked, the towbar used to tow the plane broke afterward. Another issue was that low staffing for airlines operating at the terminal led to gates being backed up. Multiple other flights operated by American, United, and Southwest also faced delays after arrival or at the gate before departure. 


Ground Stop


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) later issued a ground stop for all flights at BNA due to poor weather conditions. The ground stop occurred from 4:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. local time on January 15. American Airlines informed local media that "challenging conditions" caused the delays without mentioning that deicing trucks ran out of fuel.



Photo: AeroXplorer | AJ Riccobono


American Airlines released this statement about the incident:


"Today's severe winter weather at Nashville International Airport (BNA) significantly impacted airport operations throughout the day and resulted in a two-hour ground stop for all airlines operating there. These challenging conditions produced unsafe operating conditions, causing cancellations and delays, along with ramp and gate congestion that made it very difficult to safely gate our aircraft. We are deeply sorry to our customers who were affected. Our team is reaching out to them to apologize and provide compensation for their experience."


Many passengers shared their experiences on these delayed flights on social media. Over 100 outbound and inbound flights were canceled or delayed at BNA due to winter weather. Nashville and other parts of Tennessee saw several inches of snow, subzero temperatures, and icy roads that day. 

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George Mwangi
Aviation writer based in Washington, DC. Visited 21 countries on thousands of miles of flights.

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