How flight delays and cancellations still disrupt vacation plans in Saskatchewan.

As the Christmas season shifts to New Year’s preparations, some people are still waiting to see the family members they had planned to visit this holiday season.

Howard and Karen Chambers are two of thousands of travelers who have struggled to leave and enter Canada amid countless flight cancellations and airline delays, with winter storms contributing to the widespread problems.

Both from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the husband and wife have lived in Taiwan for 15 years. The return to the Prairies was to be their first reunion with family — including their son’s wife whom he married during the COVID-19 pandemic — since 2019.

It was going to be a month-long vacation in Moose Jaw before returning to Taiwan on January 19.

“Today we are excited to leave for Canada,” read a Dec. 20 note in Howard’s digital diary, written across 14 pages in Microsoft Word and titled “A Christmas to Remember.”

« It was going to be the best Christmas we’ve had…in years. We couldn’t wait. »

Instead, the two spent Christmas breakfast at a Vancouver Denny’s and most of the day at a hotel. They spent six days in Vancouver and contracted a bad cold, which Howard attributed to lack of sleep and poor well-being.

On Tuesday afternoon, Howard said they were sitting at an airport in Edmonton, hoping their flight to Regina for that evening would go through.

They arrived successfully on Tuesday evening.

Howard and Karen Chambers struggle to travel to Moose Jaw to visit family over the holidays from their home in Taiwan. (Submitted by Howard Chambers)

« Your legs are shaking »

Chambers said he expected to dodge the Canadian storms because Vancouver is rarely the target of snowstorms, but instead they got stranded there. He and others on their flight struggled to find information, including where to collect their luggage.

He found an area with benches that could be used as an uncomfortable bed. Howard said this area has become a community for some of those stranded at Vancouver International Airport.

He and Karen ended up spending three days at the airport.

« My wife was able to get some sleep, but I only closed my eyes for half an hour and woke up and was in pain, so I got up and walked…it’s been three days since I haven’t slept, » he said.

At one point, he said, he and his wife tearfully pleaded with the airport CEO after giving an interview to the media. He started a process to get flights out of town.

The pain, exhaustion and fatigue worsened on December 24 when they had to find a hotel and Howard had to be pushed to the registration sheet in a wheelchair because he could not get himself. get up.

« We just had a great meal and are going to bed for the first time in four days…today I can’t stop the tears from the situation and being [so] tired, » he wrote in his diary.

He said he asked his wife at one point if there had been an earthquake.

« No, your legs are shaking, » she replied.

Howard said he heard stories like hers from dozens of people, including a 20-year-old who was flying for the first time without her parents and another woman whose son was so upset by the situation that he didn’t. didn’t want to leave the airport. , even when a hotel was offered.

Chambers said he hopes the airline industry will make changes to prevent such problems from happening again.

A woman is sitting in a Tim Hortons with coffee, soup and what appears to be a sandwich on the table in front of her.
Karen Chambers sits in a Tim Hortons in Vancouver on the morning of Dec. 24 after her first night’s sleep in a bed since leaving Taiwan on Dec. 20. (Submitted by Howard Chambers)

Bad weather led to a difficult holiday season: airports

James Bogusz, president and CEO of Regina International Airport, said crews are on the ground and don’t think the airport can make any significant changes, but wants to make sure the changes flight schedules are communicated as clearly as possible to travellers.

He called it one of the toughest holiday seasons in his two decades with the airport.

He said on Tuesday afternoon that flight problems appeared to be easing: only one flight had been canceled that day so far, although some delays persisted.

However, on Tuesday evening, many other flights passing through Regina were delayed or canceled.

A Saskatoon airport spokesperson said there was no one available for an interview, but the airport is fully operational.

« Severe weather conditions that had plagued flights across the country, leading to network-wide cancellations and delays, are returning to normal, with the exception of Sunwing, which continues to face significant issues. of crew and aircraft, » the email reads.

Saskatoon Flight Departures
Tuesday’s schedule of departures from Saskatoon International Airport showed some flights continued to be affected by delays and cancellations. (Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport)

Saskatchewan’s two major airports have advised travelers to check their flight status before departing for the airport.

The transport minister’s office said in a statement that it was monitoring the situation and was in regular contact with airlines and airports to ensure passenger safety.

“We understand how frustrating these delays and cancellations have been for travelers this holiday season. This was an unprecedented weather situation, and airports and airlines did everything possible to ensure passengers are accommodated, » he said.

Saskatoon airport with the snow covered road ahead
A look at Saskatoon’s John G. Diefenbaker International Airport on Tuesday as airlines slowly resume business as usual following problems over the holiday season. (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

Vacation plans snuffed out on leaving Saskatchewan.

While some travelers find it difficult to enter the province, others find it difficult to exit.

Amy Simon, her boyfriend, Shayne Erhardt, and their 20-month-old child were scheduled to fly from Regina to Arizona via Vancouver on December 23. Since then, they have had four canceled flights.

Simon said Erhardt spent 14 hours on the phone with Westjet trying to figure things out. They couldn’t spend Christmas in Arizona as planned.

The trio hoped to fly to San Diego on Wednesday and then drive three hours to Arizona.

“We are lucky to have booked 11 days of vacation, because if we were only going for a week, we would have one day of our vacation,” Simon said on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, Simon said their flight was canceled minutes before boarding and they decided to cancel their vacation plans.


Back to top button