British Columbia

More than 300 flights cancelled at Vancouver airport during the latest winter storm

A total of 323 flights had been cancelled by early afternoon Friday at Vancouver International Airport, as B.C. struggles through another winter storm.

As of 1:30 p.m., just 22 departures and 32 arrivals have made it through the airport

Two travellers with rolling suitcases are pictured walking past an area under construction at Vancouver International Airport.
Travellers at Vancouver International Airport have faced a number of delays and cancellations this week due to winter storms. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A total of 323 flights were cancelled by early afternoon Friday at Vancouver International Airport, as B.C. struggles through another winter storm.

As of 1:30 p.m. PT, YVR had only 22 successful departures and 32 arrivals, according to an operational update from the airport.

An update earlier in the day said the airport had received heavy snow overnight, with another eight to 14 centimetres of snow, ice pellets and rain expected throughout the day.

"There have been proactive, widespread cancellations from Air Canada and WestJet. We continue to work with our airline partners to safely re-start their operations to get passengers on their way amid additional winter weather conditions," the update stated.

Between midnight and 2 p.m., YVR said that 51 aircraft had been de-iced.

The airport is advising all travellers to prepare for possible changes in flight plans as the weather continues to interfere with operations.

A closeup of a video screen at an airport lists scheduled Air Canada flights, all of which are cancelled.
A board at Vancouver International Airport shows a long list of cancelled Air Canada flights on Dec. 23, 2022. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Earlier this week, the airport said it was restricting the number of international flights, to help clear a backlog of planes on the tarmac.

On Thursday, WestJet preemptively announced the cancellation of all flights at YVR and at the Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox airports, from 11:50 p.m. Thursday until Friday afternoon. In Vancouver, those cancellations have now been extended until at least 5:50 p.m. Friday.

Air Canada has made no such announcement. While most of the airline's domestic flights have been cancelled, some U.S. and international flights are still flying.

Pacific Coastal airlines, which flies within B.C., said most of its flights will not be able to operate because of the weather, and it has cancelled more than three dozen flights scheduled for Friday.

Scheduled flights with Air India and Singapore Airlines were cancelled Friday as well because of problems not connected to the weather, YVR said.

The virtual standstill caps off a week of travel chaos, with some travellers being stranded for days because of flight cancellations linked to a storm earlier this week.

Stranded passenger 'tired, dirty, discouraged'

The Vancouver airport was quiet in the early morning on Friday, with just a small number of travellers sleeping on the floor, but by midday, there were long lines filled with people trying to rebook cancelled flights. 

Robin Langill told CBC he's been stuck at the airport since arriving on a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong on Tuesday. The next leg of his journey to Saskatoon was cancelled the same day, and now he's not scheduled to fly home until Saturday.

Watch | Stranded passengers at YVR hope to get home soon

Week of winter storms brings Vancouver airport to a near standstill

3 months ago
Duration 1:01
Most flights were cancelled in Vancouver in the lead-up to Christmas Eve, with some passengers stuck in limbo for several days.

Langill, who has no friends or family in the Vancouver area, said he's feeling "tired, dirty, discouraged" after three days without a shower, sleeping on chairs and benches in the airport.

"The airport here in Vancouver has provided us with water, blankets, pillows and snacks. Air Canada has given us nothing but this huge line," he said, gesturing to a queue of passengers waiting for their chance to reschedule.

"As the army would say, it's a big snafu."

On Friday YVR said in a release that it was providing access to more than 400 hotel rooms at local hotels and restaurant gifts cards, free-of-charge, to passengers facing overnight delays.

"As much as we love our airport, it is not the ideal location to spend the night," said Tamara Vrooman president and CEO with the Vancouver Airport Authority. "We'd like to thank our local hotel operators and restaurants for working with us to book these rooms and meals so quickly."

The hotel rooms and meal vouchers will be available from Friday Dec. 23 to Tuesday, Dec. 27. YVR said passengers will be able to stay free-of-charge for up to four nights as they wait for their next flight.

With files from Joel Ballard and Bethany Lindsay