Ok, all here is some nice information and perhaps it will Answer a lot. Formally employed by Delta and worked in KATL... Ok you see my credentials and will hear it straight from the horses mouth.
When weather approaches air lines do their best to prepare for the incoming hell. De/Anti-Icing ops are the most hellish times for airlines and employees. When that kind of operation is under way flights are cancelled consolidated where they can and than all remaining flights departures and arrivals are spread out to keep aircraft from sitting on the active taxiway waiting for a gate to open or take off. Even when flights are cancelled and times are delayed you still have a HUGE BOTTLE neck at the De/Anti-Ice pads.
I do not want to hear another passenger say the airline employee doesn't care. I'm sure there are some out there who are short and tired and irritated. Hell I was in a cherry picker of a De-ice truck for 8 hours straight! I didn't get anything to drink, or eat because I was committed to keep my end of the deal up for the passenger. I was making sure I was doing my part to get my section of the aircraft free and clear of ice so we could get the hulks out. If I had to piss I just did it out the side of the cherry picker. I was covered in snow and ice but maintained my professionalism, and consequentially didn't leave till about 5am the next morning about 4 hours after we deiced the last aircraft because we had to service all the trucks and get them ready for the next morning.
De icing fluid is a premium people. Although I'm sure they didn't run out of de icing fluid, I'm sure the trucks went dry at some point and they had to get a full one over the pad. Depending on the size of the aircraft it can take as much as 1200 gallons to deice. It depends on the aircraft and how much build up of snow and ice. The truck holds about 1200 gallons of fluid. There are 4 trucks per aircraft so each truck will use as little as 100 or as much as 600 to get a plane cleaned. Than you have to go and refill which takes about 15 - 20 minutes. As for aircraft strikes with De/icing I haven't done that or been around one who has. It does happen and although tragic it is better to not dispatch an aircraft that has been damaged at all. Common sense right?
AS for the gate agent, a 763 holds about 250 passengers if not more. So let me see here. ONE gate agent versus 250 passengers. That sounds like a fair fight seeing there is only 3 feet of desk and a computer holding back the horde. I was once in KORF working a gate with 4 aircraft diverted from JFK. I had 500 people sitting in my gate area waiting to get to JFK. I kept them up to date with what flight control was telling us every 15 minutes. I never had the right answer because after ever announcement I had 100 people come up to me and ask me the same questions I hadn't had the answers for. My only answer was there was weather in JFK. We can't let you go yet or you will just end up back here for more fuel, and the airline will put you on another flight but we will not put you up in a hotel because according to company policy we do not put passengers up in a hotel due to weather. (NO AIRLINE PUTS PEOPLE UP DUE TO WEATHER). The last flight left at 1am that day and I was completely whipped. I was one man and 500 people. Does anybody not airline affiliated deal with 500 people like that in a span of 5 hours? I mean c'mon people 500 angry,.tired, upset, distraught passengers. Unless you are a Airline Customer Service Rep you will never see that kind of pressure/stress in your life.
UPS PILOT. The agent your girlfriend was dealing with I'm sure was not rude to her. I'm sure the agent was tired and stressed having dealt with hundreds of other screaming passengers. You become numb after hours of dealing with other people's blow outs. You help the passenger, let them vent and get them on their way to their destinations. You can only do so much, a seat on the next available flight is the most they can do in weather. If the flight cancelled due to a maintenance or airline responsible failure than they should have been given a hotel room. If there are no hotel rooms available (which happens in ATL) than you will not be given that service either due to "NO HOTEL ROOMS"
Finally UPS pilot, SHAME ON YOU. You are an employee of the most complex/expensive non government funded businesses in the US. You should be ashamed to slam fellow members of your community. Further more you should not be blasphemous toward a section of your industry you have no idea how runs. You are a pilot of a Cargo hulk. Not a Airport Customer Service agent or pilot. You have NO earthly idea what they do or how they do it, you just are rated on an aircraft that the airline might fly. You should know better than to slam that airline.
BTW I failed to mention that UPS pilot is entitled to free flights on any airline he chooses if the Cockpit Jumpseat is available he can hop a flight to anywhere. Real nice camaraderie, I hope airline employees find out who you are and deny you your opportunity. Thanks a bunch for your ill factually based thread earlier.