‘Pretty pissed off’: Passengers languish in Vancouver’s airport after flights cancelled

Click to play video: 'Stranded at YVR this Christmas'
Stranded at YVR this Christmas
Staff at Vancouver International Airport and airlines are still trying to clear the backlog from this past week's storms. Some travellers are stranded at YVR, trying to get to their destination ons Christmas day. Kamil Karamali reports – Dec 25, 2022

Sleeping on airport benches and the floor while feeling abandoned by airlines at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is not how Caroljoy Green expected to spend Christmas Day.

She and her husband Scott managed to make it from Ontario to Vancouver on their way home to Prince George, but say Air Canada left them with lumps of coal the entire way.

The couple spent five hours on the tarmac in Toronto because there was no ground crew to load their luggage. Once they made it to Vancouver, they stood in line for hours to figure out what happened to their luggage and rebook their flight to Prince George. The earliest available flight leaves on Wednesday.

“There’s some basic communication missing. There are long lines and you have no idea what people are lining up for,” Caroljoy said. “I stood in a baggage line that looked shorter only to realize halfway down there was a sign that said priority. So I moved to the end of the long one, only to get up close two hours later and they said ‘oh priority to us’ … So not Air Canada’s finest hour.”

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Click to play video: 'YVR working to restart after widespread flight cancellations'
YVR working to restart after widespread flight cancellations

While the airport passed out free water and snacks, Scott says they felt abandoned by Air Canada.

“They didn’t want to put us up in a hotel. They didn’t want to reimburse us for our tickets. They didn’t want to pay for food, and for that I’m pretty pissed off,” he said.

They are among many airline passengers still dealing with the aftermath of last week’s winter storms that resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations and delays across North America.

YVR expected nearly 60,000 passengers to go through the airport Christmas Day, between 430 planned flights, 221 departures and 209 arrivals.

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The airport was working at 93 per cent, according to YVR spokesperson Alyssa Smith, and more than 30 flights were cancelled due to weather events across Canada and the U.S.

“We’ve enacted so many things throughout the terminal here to try to make them as comfortable as possible while they’re waiting for their flights. So things like providing hotel rooms, providing restaurant vouchers.” Smith said, adding the airport is taking the situation on a day-by-day basis and working with airlines to get passengers rebooked.

Click to play video: 'Winter storm recovery continues across B.C.'
Winter storm recovery continues across B.C.

However, other passengers say rebooking has been a struggle.

“I got a ticket online but it’s false,” said Teresa Serenith, who is also stuck at the Vancouver airport. “They said it doesn’t count. It’s overbooked already.”

With snowy weather in eastern Canada, YVR says it could be days until all the flights are rebooked and back on schedule.

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In the meantime, Caroljoy says she and her husband will try to stay with friends until their Wednesday flight.

“I’m kind of identifying with Mary and Joseph’s journey on Christmas Day. Things didn’t go the way they planned and I’m realizing it could be way worse. So we’ll make the best of it.”

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