- What was supposed to be a two-hour domestic flight turned into a nightmarish 36-hour international journey for Air Canada passengers.
- A flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, was unable to land in its intended destination of Whitehorse, Yukon, because of the weather and had to fly out of the country to Alaska to land.
- Many of the passengers did not have passports with them for what was meant to be a domestic flight.
- After an overnight stay, the passengers finally boarded a flight to Whitehorse – only to end up back in Vancouver.
- They ultimately arrived in Whitehorse about 36 hours after their journey began, and one passenger criticised the “major lack of communications.”
- In total, the journey was about 2,700 miles longer than it should have been, according to calculations by Business Insider.
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A two-hour Air Canada flight turned into a 36-hour international journey with an unscheduled stop in the US thanks to bad weather that left the plane unable to land at the intended airport.
The incident meant passengers were flown from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Alaska and then back to Vancouver before they could get to their intended destination of Whitehorse, the capital of Canada’s Yukon region, more than a day later.
Air Canada Flight 279 was supposed to fly between Vancouver and Whitehorse on December 16 but was unable to land after 15 minutes of circling the airport because of the weather, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
An Air Canada spokesperson told the outlet the flight was diverted “due to the weather limits for landing in Whitehorse.”
This is the route it was supposed to take:
Passengers actually thought the plane had landed. One flyer, Thea Rogers, told CBC: “In fact, I thought we had landed. It kind of got that bumpy – when the wheels hit the ground – and you know, that ‘thunk.’ And then it was this sharp up, up, up, up, and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re landing.'”
The flight then made its way to Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage is about 490 miles from Whitehorse.
The aviation-news website Simple Flying said the airport wasn’t expecting the international flight and that some passengers, expecting to travel only domestically, did not have necessary documents, such as passports, with them.
Passengers were then told they would be spending the night in Alaska, CBC reported. But Rogers told the outlet that it was not clear at first if they would be able to leave the airport.
“Then they didn’t tell us whether we were going to simply be sleeping on the chairs in the security area, or whether we would actually be able to leave. I didn’t think we could leave without passports.”
They ultimately were able to stay in a hotel and boarded a flight to Whitehorse the next morning – only to not be able to land again and end up being diverted to Vancouver, where they had originally taken off from.
One passenger, Roger Gauthier, told CBC the passengers “couldn’t believe it” and that they flew over Whitehorse, seeing its lights below.
He said it was “total chaos” in Vancouver because they had to go through customs as an international flight.
The passengers were eventually able to reach Whitehorse on Wednesday – about 36 hours after their journey began.
In total, their journey was about 2,700 miles longer than it should have been, according to calculations by Business Insider.
Gauthier was critical of how Air Canada treated passengers throughout the ordeal: “Major lack of communications – since Monday.”
But Lisa Schroeder, another passenger, told CBC she was grateful the pilot ultimately decided not to land in Whitehorse.
“Nobody can control the weather, and we were very thankful that the pilot made a wise decision.”
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