Frigid temperatures, flight delays at D.C. airports

Travelers sleep on the floor at Reagan National Airport.

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - When air temperatures dip as low as they did Tuesday, it challenges everything dealing with air travel.

From the patience of passengers to the physical capabilities of airports and the planes themselves, everything gets slowed down when the weather is this cold.

More than 4,400 flights nationwide were canceled on Tuesday, including more than 110 at Reagan National Airport and dozens more at Washington Dulles International Airport. And while the D.C. area didn't bear the brunt of the headaches - Chicago and Detroit wore that badge - it didn't make the delays any more palatable for travelers.

It's also a challenge to the airport's infrastructure. At Reagan, a pipe burst in the baggage claim area in the early afternoon, sending passengers scurrying with their bags and water cascading onto the tile floors.

Meanwhile, operatures at Reagan learned early in the morning that a pipe burst near Terminal B, turning a portion of the Tarmac into an ice rink. It caused workers to go out in the brutal air to sand and treat the taxiway. Luckily, the area wasn't out of commission for long.

At Dulles, the cold challenged the creativity of airlines. Ahead of the weather, Lufthansa advised its incoming European flights that some ground services would be limited, such as baggage carts and high lifts.

It also tested the mettle of the workers themselves, who were generally limited to windows of 15 minutes outside.