Calgary International Airport and Edmonton International Airport recorded large numbers of flight cancellations and delays on Sunday and Monday, December 18 and 19, respectively. These delays and cancellations affect flights to domestic and international destinations. Air travel sources, including WestJet, Air Canada, Sunwing, Swap, and Flair, have been the worst affected by the massive problem.
According to Environment Canada’s alert issue, a frigid wind chill value of minus 40 is forecast to continue. While the Met Office said, icy winds would prevail throughout the week, especially at night and in the mornings, with a warm trend expected only through the weekend.
Calgary International Airport’s departure schedule shows that at least half of the flights departing from the airport on December 19, 2022, were delayed or canceled, affecting arrivals as well. The same is the case at Edmonton International Airport, but with a slightly lower percentage (about half of arrivals) of scheduled flight delays and cancellations.
Passenger Ashley Stewart, scheduled to fly from Cancun to her home in Grande Prairie, described her terrifying experience at Calgary International Airport, saying her flight was delayed four times in one night and when she finally felt a glimmer of hope Monday morning, she felt upset when her long-awaited flight got canceled.
She further revealed how airport officials asked her to search for the hotel and her bags on her own, which led to her standing in the wrong line-up for an entire hour to get down. When she finally luckily got a ticket on the same day, the officials revealed they had only two seats.
Ashley Stewart commented on the dire travel conditions at the end of the year, saying that flight delays and cancellations were not news, but the sheer number of disruptions was staggering.
“You do somewhat expect some delays, but I didn’t expect it to be like this, we weren’t just the only flight. There were tons of flights that were cancelled so a lot of people were pretty upset. We knew it would be a mess.” She spoke.
Another homebound passenger, Jared, and Tia Reiner, also spoke about their frustrating experience with Calgary International Airport. According to them, if flights keep getting delayed and canceled, it won’t surprise them if their bags get home before them.
On the other hand, Holly Durawa, who was scheduled to fly home on WestJet flights, said the crew was exhausted, very kind and helpful, and revealed that the flight had “unscheduled maintenance and “Weather-related issues” were cited as the reasons for flight delays and cancellations. Although she got his canceled flight rebooked by the authorities, she is not too excited about the prospect as his flight has already been delayed three times in one night.
She further expressed her displeasure and anger with WestJet for not taking proper care of its pilots and crew and withholding essential information from customers. She doesn’t feel safe and secure traveling with such an unreliable airline crew.
“I wish we had more airlines in this country. I think it’s awful that we pretty much have two main ones… It’s getting really tiresome. If I would have driven, I would be there by now… I would have been home.” She spoke.
In the wake of many frustrated and angry passengers waiting at airports for the past 24+ hours, WestJet provided an official statement reporting 104 cancellations on Sunday and 57 through Monday due to freezing weather. Air travel operations in western Canada were also suspended.
YYC spokeswoman Stephanie Harris backed WestJet’s official statement, saying delays could be due to passenger volume, staffing, maintenance, or connectivity at airports, other than extremely cold weather complications. Since the airport receives approximately 50,000 visitors daily during the holiday season, travelers are advised to contact airlines directly for more accurate information and arrive early.
Aircraft must de-ice before take-off, and the process is now taking longer than expected, and the situation is getting progressively worse. According to Air Canada, the winter weather has hit airlines hard at major airports, causing delays.
For safety reasons, airports must impose ground departure restrictions during cold weather to reduce the number of flights. They have hired extra people to help with delayed bags due to understaffing. Air Canada added