Sunday I had a 12:15 Westjet flight booked from Vancouver to Kelowna. That morning I discovered we had had a large snowfall and I nearly got stuck trying to get my car out of my parking spot on Harwood Street. It continued to snow throughout the day and I arrived at the airport to discover my flight had been delayed by an hour because of the snow in Prince George. No problem, I had a new book to read. At 1:30 I found myself seated in a full plane bound for Kelowna but instead of an immediate takeoff the captain came on and explained that there was only one runway open and they were using it to land a number of fuel critical airplanes that were circling. He expected to be de-iced and heading towards the runway at 3pm and also asked that we go easy on the crew since they’d been working the past four days straight and were a little tired.
Our departure kept getting pushed back as the captain tried to get us slotted into the runway during one of the rare windows when the airport would let planes depart. You could feel everyone getting a little more anxious as each announcement was made. One of the stewardesses even mentioned they might close the airport altogether which got me thinking about planning an overnight trip on the Greyhound. Around 4:30 the plane was de-iced and the pilot rushed to the runway to catch the opening that air traffic control had given him. The cabin was filled with the cheering and clapping of grateful passengers as we roared into the sky and left Vancouver behind.
In Kelowna the girl at the car rental kiosk was surprised to see someone from Vancouver arrive and when I asked what happened to the other Vancouver arrivals she pointed towards the flight monitors on the wall that were awash in yellow rows of flight cancellations.
It looks as though I was damn lucky to make it on Sunday! The CBC news is reporting that Vancouver airport is just now returning to normal and clearing out the backlog of Sunday and Monday’s cancelled flights. I hope it’s not this crazy on Friday for my return trip.