Kamloops woman caught in snowstorm chaos at Vancouver airport

People sleep on the ground at Vancouver International Airport after a snowstorm caused flights to be suspended, December 20, 2022.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Joy Bandoquillo

A Kamloops woman spent a grueling night on the ground at Vancouver International Airport this week, along with hundreds of others, after a snowstorm caused flight delays.

Joy Bandoquillo described the scene as chaotic, stressful and emotionally charged as the families struggled with the uncertain situation.

“There were a lot of tears around me,” she said. “People with children begging for flights. People were tired, hungry and stressed and no one knew what was going on.

Bandoquillo spent 24 hours at the airport. She tried to call Airbnbs in the area but they were full. Food in airport restaurants was running out due to all the people stuck there, plus there were staff shortages.

READ MORE: Vancouver airport disruptions lead to more flight cancellations in Kamloops, Okanagan

Eventually, Bandoquillo was saved by a social media connection that took her home to eat and sleep, but she worries about other families who weren’t so lucky.

“We’re not all from Vancouver,” she said. “People are on connecting flights and not everyone has friends here and the ability to pay for a motel. I have heard so many sad stories. It was very sad to see all these people trying to be with their families, being turned away and not knowing what is going to happen.

Vancouver Airport suspended all inbound and outbound flights early Dec. 20 after 30 centimeters of snow fell.

A small number of flights were able to take off in the afternoon, and there are several cancellations today, December 21, as the airport tries to decongest its air traffic.

Bandoquillo traveled by bus from Kamloops to Vancouver on Monday, December 19, and arrived at Vancouver’s crowded airport late at night with a flight departing early the next morning.

“I was supposed to have an Airbnb that night but chose to sit at the airport because it was snowing in Vancouver and realized they had too much snow to handle,” he said. she declared. “The airport was packed with people and luggage. Then we learned that most domestic flights had been cancelled. More and more people were arriving, trying to find a place on the floor.

Bandoquillo was concerned about food shortages. She said airport staff were handing out fruit, cookies and water.

“On the ground floor of the international departures area there is a food court and out of seven or eight stands only two or three were open,” she said. “They were running out of food because of the number of people stuck there. And no staff were entering because of the dangerous road conditions.

The next day, she reached out to an acquaintance on social media.

READ MORE: Snow and cold in Western Canada send icicles to the heart of Canadian travel plans

“I didn’t know her personally, we’re in a group on social media and I had never been to her house,” she said. “She said come stay with us. I took the sky train and they met me at the station, took me to their house and her husband cooked a great supper. They gave me a comfortable place to sleep.

Bandoquillo’s reservation agent was able to book his flight for tomorrow morning, December 22. She’s going to the airport tonight to make sure she gets there.

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