Ice storm chaos freezes some B.C. flights

A massive winter storm in Southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes knocked out power for tens of thousands and caused problems for airlines operating from Toronto to St. John's, which caused a ripple effect in British Columbia.

Eastern storm hits Toronto hard, while freezing rain also forecast in Northern B.C.

The storm in Eastern Canada delayed many arriving in Vancouver 2:11

A massive winter storm in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes knocked out power for tens of thousands and caused problems for airlines operating from Toronto to St. John's. The travel issues caused a ripple effect all the way to British Columbia.

On Sunday, WestJet blamed 40 cancellations across its network — four of which were in B.C. — on the flight chaos in Central Canada, where hundreds of planes were grounded or stalled on one of the busiest travels weekends of the year.

Air Canada saw two flights from Toronto to Vancouver cancelled, along with two flights that were intended to fly back to Toronto.

At Vancouver International Airport, the Jeff and Leslie Whittaker said they've had two flights cancelled already: one by WestJet Saturday and one Air Canada flight Sunday. Jeff Whittaker said they stand to lose a Christmas vacation in the Caribbean if they can't catch a connecting flight tomorrow.

WestJet blamed delays and cancellations in B.C. on the flight chaos caused by a massive winter storm in Central Canada. The company said on Sunday that it expects to get its domestic passengers to their destinations by Christmas Day. (CBC)

"We're hoping that the people's airline has enough capacity and enough experience with this weather that they'll get us there —​ get us to Toronto in the morning," Jeff Whittaker said.

"This may be the last year we travel at Christmas," Leslie Whittaker added.

A family trying to head home to Chile was also bracing for bad news Sunday afternoon. Claudio Garcia and Cecilia Nera, most recently of Smithers, B.C., are trying to move back to Chile after three years in Canada.

"This whole delay — if we don't get another flight to go or some way to Toronto, we'll lose that flight to Chile," Garcia said.

"So we'll probably miss Christmas," Nera added.

Freezing rain, heavy snow in B.C.

The first leg of Nera and Garcia's journey, from Smithers to Vancouver, was also a problem, after the flight they booked for Friday was cancelled.

Cecilia Nera and Claudio Garcia are hoping to get to Toronto in time to catch a connecting flight to Chile that will get them home in time for Christmas Eve. (CBC)

"It's not a good experience, with the snow," Nera said.

Freezing rain was in the forecast Sunday afternoon for Nera and Garcia's former home base, and for B.C.'s North Coast, which doesn't improve prospects for other holiday travellers in those areas.

Flights within B.C. between Vancouver and cities including Nanaimo, Terrace, and Prince George were also cancelled or delayed on Sunday, days after a heavy snowfall hit many parts of B.C.'s South Coast and the B.C. Central Interior.

WestJet said on Sunday it expects to get its domestic passengers to their destinations by Christmas Day.

Air Canada, which also reported delays in and out of Vancouver Sunday, couldn't be reached for a similar forecast.

With files from the CBC's Curt Petrovich

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.