Air Canada, WestJet provide updates for flight operations amid Western Canada’s extreme winter weather

Air Canada, WestJet provide updates amid Western Canada’s extreme winter weather

VANCOUVER — Airlines are working to accommodate passengers in the wake of extreme winter conditions in Western Canada, impacting flight operations at multiple gateways.

Air Canada has implemented its flexible change policy for Vancouver International Airport, for passengers looking to make alternate travel arrangements. As per Air Canada’s info page, itinerary changes are permitted if:

  • The passenger purchased an Air Canada ticket no later than Dec. 19, 2022 for travel Dec. 20 – 25, 2022
  • The itinerary includes a flight to, from or via Vancouver (YVR)

Passengers scheduled to travel during the affected period can retrieve their booking to change their flight up to two hours before departure, free of charge, to another date between now and Dec. 31, 2022, subject to availability in the cabin for which they originally purchased their Air Canada flight. Otherwise any fare difference will apply.

WestJet has also updated its information for passengers impacted by the weather in Western Canada.

In a statement posted yesterday, WestJet said: “We sincerely apologize to guests who have been impacted by cancellations and delays resulting from severe winter weather across Western Canada. We understand the importance of holiday travel and the frustration and disappointment this has caused. Our teams are working to reaccommodate guests as quickly as possible, where possible. There is very limited reaccommodation availability due to the high demand for travel this time of year and the significant impact across the industry.

“We are monitoring multiple weather systems and anticipate further weather impacts in the coming days. If you have confirmed travel between now and December 26, and would like to proactively cancel a flight only reservation, you can do so through the following REFUND FORM. Any guest who proactively cancels their flight will receive a full refund to original form of payment. Additionally, enhanced flexible change and cancel policies remain in place between now and January 8, 2023, provided changes are actioned before December 26.”

WestJet’s update, found here, also includes a Q&A plus info for passengers facing flight cancellations after they’ve arrived at the airport, contact centre call tips, and more.

WestJet’s flight cancellation summary as of 9 a.m. MT this morning included 86 cancellations for today, Dec. 21, with cancellations expected to increase throughout the day, plus 240 cancellations on Tuesday, 146 on Monday and 104 on Sunday.

In a memo to the media, WestJet addressed the situation. “Many of you have inquired if these cancellations are related to staffing shortages and if WestJet is staffed for the holidays. We are staffed appropriately for holiday travel and our teams at the airport are working as quickly as possible to support all impacted guests. The ongoing extreme cold weather warnings affecting Alberta and prolonged forecasted snow and weather events for regions across B.C. inclusive of, Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan are having a severe impact not only on our operations, but our staff and service partners who are battling frigid temperatures and extreme weather. In Vancouver today and across last night alone, the weather prevented many of our staff and service partners from being able to get to work safely. Additionally, severe weather impacts continue to prove challenging as we work to stabilize our operations and facilitate mandatory crew rest requirements for safety.”

Delays and cancellations were rampant at airports in Calgary and Edmonton earlier this week.

And Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are bracing for winter storm conditions on track to hit later this week, at the height of holiday travel.

Porter Airlines’ info page includes weather-related travel advisories so far for Montreal and Timmins.

And Flair’s site asks passengers for patience: “We are currently receiving a higher than normal volume of customer service requests due to severe weather in Vancouver. Please bear with us as we work to assist passengers whose travel plans are disrupted from ongoing delays/cancellations. We appreciate your patience.”