The song I’ll be Home for Christmas seems a bittersweet melody for travellers stuck in airports after an ice storm battered parts of Eastern Canada.
Dozens of flights at airports across the Maritimes were delayed or cancelled on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. On Monday morning passengers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport were still contending with a mess of delayed flights.
Nicole MacFarlane and fiancée Maggie Lyons feared they wouldn't be seeing their families this Christmas.
The couple and their two cats — Tuffy and Princess — were supposed to fly from Halifax to Fredericton today but their flight was cancelled.
"I mean we have no money to get home now. We don't have gas money or anything to get home for our parents to drive down and get us,” she said.
The couple put all of their cash into plane tickets, thinking that would be easiest on the cats.
When they tried to get a bus today, there was more heartbreak.
"We were told the bus would take us because our cats are in crates. [Maggie] goes down to get bus tickets and they said, ‘No we can't because you have cats,’” said MacFarlane.
Fortunately, MacFarlane said, Air Canada has agreed to pay for a taxi to take the couple and their cats on the long trip to Fredericton.
Halifax's Casino Taxi said the cab ride from Halifax airport to downtown Fredericton would cost about $717.
Meanwhile, Rosemary Laur spent the morning making calls to shuttle companies and ground traffic control — then, she got lucky.
"By a miracle, somebody heard that there's a lot of people stranded at the airport and called in saying that he's willing to give a free ride home to Sydney because he's a taxi driver and he's on his way back, so he's willing to take some passengers," she said.
Delays expected through Christmas Eve
The airport authority says it could be another 24 to 36 hours before all flights get back to normal.
Passenger Sheehan Kirkwood said getting home is frustrating.
"I've been away from my family for about five months now straight without seeing them. Christmas without them would be pretty heart-breaking," he said Sunday night.
Peter Spurway, spokesman for Halifax airport, said flights coming in from Toronto were delayed causing an uproar in the system.
Paula Walker, who is travelling from Toronto to Sydney, said she missed her connecting flight and is now stuck in Halifax.
“Once we got on the plane we had to wait approximately three hours to de-ice,” she said.
Flight cancellations of both arrivals and departures are reported at airports in Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton, but some flights are reported as being on schedule.
There is still a freezing rain warning in place for most of Nova Scotia, the southern two-thirds of New Brunswick and all of P.E.I.
“All of this brand of weather will come to an end overnight tonight as that low-pressure centre moves across to the island of Newfoundland and Labrador taking this inclement weather with it,” said Coade.
By 4:30 p.m. AT the number of NB Power customers without electricity in southwestern New Brunswick neared 37,000.
Crews in Nova Scotia restored the last cluster of outages early Monday morning in Amherst.