Disappointed, weary holiday travellers in Winnipeg grounded by miserable weather elsewhere
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Hopeful holiday travellers are taking their chances at Winnipeg’s airport, despite widespread cancellations across Canada due to winter storms in many regions of the country.
Many connecting flights have been delayed or cancelled, and the situation was expected to get worse throughout Friday afternoon and evening.
WestJet pre-emptively cancelled flights scheduled Friday to and from Ontario, Quebec and B.C. because of snowstorms. As of early Friday afternoon, 11 flights out of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport had been cancelled and eight were delayed.
The Winnipeg Airports Authority is informing people to be on the lookout for last-minute changes by checking their email, texts and their airline’s social media pages for any alerts.
If the flight is cancelled, don’t go to the airport, said Michel Rosset, a spokesman for the Winnipeg Airports Authority.
“If your flight is cancelled, stay home. Follow the instructions provided to you by your airline to rebook or to request a refund,” Rosset said.
But some travellers were already at or on their way to the airport when they received notice of delays. Others said their flight out of Winnipeg hadn’t been cancelled but their connecting flights had been.
Gina Pagcaliwagan and her family initially planned to head to the Philippines via Vancouver, but learned their flights from that city were cancelled. They arrived at the airport hoping for good fortune.
“The problem is, they didn’t inform us our flight is cancelled,” Pagcaliwagan said, saying the family took a chance they’d be able to rebook on a different airline and fly out of Winnipeg today. Pagcaliwagan and her husband were able to secure new bookings on Phillippine Airlines, and were trying to make the same arrangements for their son. She said she hoped there’s a “chance of getting through.”
Other travellers did not appear to be as fortunate.
Trying to get travel arrangements sorted during this time has been a “disaster,” for a Manitoba resident named Jean (who didn’t want her last name published), whose flight from Vancouver to Hawaii was cancelled, but she hadn’t received any notice about the Winnipeg-to-Vancouver leg of the trip.
She’d been on hold since 6 a.m., waiting to speak with an airline agent to get answers and, hopefully, reschedule her bookings.
“We couldn’t get through to anybody,” she said dejectedly, adding Friday was her birthday.
People flying within Manitoba — one of the only areas of Canada not under some kind of snow or ice advisory — escaped the frustration.
Logan White was headed back to Thompson for the holidays.
“I think I am!” White said when asked if he felt lucky.
Domestic travellers with connecting flights east to Toronto were notified before they got to the airport Friday morning they’d face delays of more than an hour.
Bharat Kumar, who was headed to Toronto on an Air Canada flight, said he’d altered his vacation and rescheduled his flight in an effort to get ahead of the storm warnings, but was affected nonetheless.
Some hopeful travellers destined for warm-weather vacations tried to take the situation in stride.
A Roblin resident who didn’t provide her name said she and her family were already in Neepawa, halfway to Winnipeg’s airport, when their flight was cancelled. They were headed to Mexico via Calgary.
She said weather cancellations should be expected in Canada, and wanted to stay positive.
“I think everybody’s trying. It’s Christmas; let’s be forgiving,” she said, before adding jokingly: “Just get me there!”
The delays were expected to get progressively worse throughout the day, Rosset said.
“Anytime there’s a cancellation or delay across the country, we’re going to feel those ripples here at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, because oftentimes that plane that’s scheduled to take off here in Winnipeg is being used two or three different times throughout the day… before arriving here,” he said. “So if it’s delayed in that first city it’s leaving from, that delay is only going to continue throughout the day and is going to be felt here in Winnipeg.”
Flight status information is posted on the airport authority’s website.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.
Updated on Friday, December 23, 2022 2:39 PM CST: Adds link