Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/8/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
TORONTO — Extreme cold in the Toronto area, where temperatures plunged to about -40 C overnight with the wind chill, caused a rash of delays and flight cancellations Tuesday at Pearson International Airport.
The airport put a so-called ground freeze on all North American arrivals through the morning, but it was lifted at 10 a.m. More than 600 flights were cancelled throughout the day and many more were delayed.
The freeze was put in place because of the extreme cold's impact on equipment and efforts to minimize time outdoors for employees, said Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokeswoman Shereen Daghstani.
"It was the extreme weather conditions that impacted safe operations and employee safety," she said. "When it comes to refuelling or removing the bags, those need to be done by employees."
The problems were reportedly compounded by a backlog of planes waiting for gates to open to offload passengers, travellers waiting hours to collect their luggage and long lineups snaking through the Pearson terminals.
Robert Palmer, spokesman for WestJet, said the company's planes couldn't take off Monday night, creating a bottleneck at the gates.
"As soon as a gate became available, we would push a plane to that gate, we would let the people off. We did not take their baggage off because that would've taken extra time and meanwhile there was a lineup of people in planes waiting to get off the plane," he said.
Palmer said he suspects many other airlines faced the same hurdles.
Jeff Cooper faced multiple delays getting home from Barbados. He spent hours waiting for his delayed flight to take off from Miami, Fla., where he was on a layover, then faced even worse delays once his flight got to Pearson.
Cooper landed at about 11 p.m. Monday and his plane had to wait on the tarmac for about four hours. He finally disembarked around 3 a.m., but didn't get his luggage until more than seven hours after that.
Though clearly due to an "act of God," the experience was "frustrating for everyone," said Cooper, who often travels for work.
"Canadians are pretty cool about everything and they're very patient," he said. "It was more just frustration."
But not everyone took the delays in stride. Peel regional police said five extra officers were called to the airport around 5:25 a.m. to deal with a group of about 300 people at a luggage carousel in Terminal 3.
"(They) were getting very frustrated and irate, because there was a ground freeze and they weren't getting their baggage," said Const. Lilly Fitzpatrick.
Police "helped calm people down, they answered questions, they tried to get the information that the people needed as to when they were going to be getting their baggage," Fitzpatrick said.
Airlines were urging passengers to check their flight status before heading to the airport because of the many cancellations and delays.
Some would-be travellers at the WestJet service counters reported waiting for assistance for more than two hours, and many were calling customer service on their cellphones as they stood in line.
Others slumped in corners, trying to pass the time on their laptops and phones, while young children slept in their parents' laps.
Daniel Puhl, 21, was scheduled to fly back to Fort McMurray, Alta., late Monday night, but his flight was delayed and eventually cancelled due to the weather.
He managed to book a new flight for 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, but sitting quietly on the airport floor hours before his planned departure, he said he wasn't too hopeful about his chances of taking off on time.
"I try to keep calm. I know it's nothing I can control and nothing they can control themselves, but you don't get paid for a day of (missed) work," he said.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 8, 2014 A11
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Community members in shock over death of child
Coming attraction: pop-up downtown drive-in theatre
Winnipeg's crime rate continues to drop
Teen takes responsibility for killing fellow high school football player with surprise punch
Shoppers Drug Mart becomes drive-thru
Teen hockey players facing assault charges
Florida man fined $13,000 for trying to smuggle gun into Canada
Blue Bombers prepare lineup for Friday match against BC Lions
History is not on their side
A future for the Lac-Megantic locomotive?
Crash kills US teen pilot seeking world record
US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages
Repurpose pay phones for truly public Wi-Fi
Setback for Nygård in Bahamas
Seattle's Sidney Rice announces his retirement
Crime rate down, so is severity; StatsCan
Holmes lawyers question firearms analysis
More out-of-province fire crews sent to B.C.
Tyrannosaur a team player? B.C. fossils say yes
Meat supplier in China scandal has global reach
Harper gov't proposes easing gun law
Broncos owner giving up control due to Alzheimer's
Report recommends ways to improve STARS
When in Rome...
Man charged after human trafficking investigation
6 indicted in U.S. in StubHub accounts case
Jets sign Chiarot to new two-way contract
Trump: Hotel in capital to be among world's best
European carriers suspend more Tel Aviv flights
PepsiCo raises outlook, looks to new Lay's flavours
Lockdown lifted at US Air Force base
Thousands of accused people being needlessly detained: civil rights advocates
Death sentence given in AP photographer's killing
Winnipeg's decline in crime rate well ahead of national average
Pallister says the province can build Lake Manitoba outlets much faster
Another arrest made in Omand's Creek robbery
Nazi war suspect, 89, dies as extradition OK'd
Plane crashes while landing in Taiwan, killing 47
Province pushes potash
Toronto firms fined over do-not-call list