The Winnipeg Airports Authority expects the storms that have created chaos in Western provinces will affect those flying through Manitoba’s capital city into the weekend.
Heavy snow in Vancouver has painted a bleak picture for travellers, with hundreds of Air Canada and WestJet flights grounded since Sunday.
As Canadians scramble to rearrange holiday travel plans, a major winter storm is also bearing down on Ontario, which Toronto’s Pearson International Airport says could affect operations there as well.
Environment Canada says the storm will begin to hit Toronto Thursday afternoon with rain or snow, followed by blizzard-like conditions, plummeting temperatures and a potential flash freeze on Friday.
“Anytime there is a delay or cancellation really anywhere in the country, there’s a good chance we’re going to feel those ripple effects here,” WAA’s communications manager Michel Rosset said in conversation with Hal Anderson on 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg.
Rosset advises travellers to check the status of their flights before making their way to Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, along with keeping an eye on their emails and texts for messages from their airline.
Gavin McPhee is one of many Manitobans at the airport on Thursday, navigating the chaos of interrupted travel plans.
McPhee was hoping to visit family in the Philippines for two weeks.
“I’m just feeling like, I don’t know, a lot of feelings,” he said. “It’s just sad that I was planning to go … (on this) trip — nice and hot — and then, I have to stay in Winnipeg.”
McPhee’s flights from Winnipeg to Vancouver, then onwards to the southeast Asian country, were both cancelled, and he said he doesn’t know when his trip will go ahead.
Layla Martinez also won’t be celebrating Christmas where she planned.
The B.C. resident came to Winnipeg last week to visit family ahead of the holidays.
“I was supposed to go home two days ago,” Martinez said. “My flights got cancelled, so we were on hold for like (a) couple hours with WestJet, and then they rescheduled them to this morning at 9:40, and then those got cancelled right before I got here.”
Martinez will now be sticking around for Winnipeg Christmas festivities, with the earliest flight out on Boxing Day, she said.
A Winnipeg travel agent says there’s only one day in his career that’s eclipsed the mayhem of Monday’s flight cancellations and delays — the day the COVID-19 pandemic shut down air travel around the world in March 2020.
“It’s been absolutely awful (this week),” Mike Kroeker with Bonaventure Travel told 680 CJOB’s The Start on Thursday.
“There’s just non-stop cancellations, and we’re trying to rebook and rebook,” Kroeker said. “Two feet forward, and four back it seems.“
Meanwhile, looking ahead to more winter travel in the coming months, Kroeker says buying travel insurance and working with a travel professional can ease some of the headaches travellers are now facing.
For those struggling with the latest chaos in Canada’s airports, who did purchase insurance, Kroeker urges them to contact their insurance provider right away to open a trip cancellation, delay or interruption claim.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Teagan Rasche