This PEI family finally got to celebrate Christmas after a week of travel issues

It all started when Joseph Luppe’s flight from Vancouver to Toronto was canceled on December 20 due to bad weather.

Joseph, a student at the University of British Columbia, planned to return home to his family in Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island, for Christmas. But like many Canadians this holiday seasonhis travels did not go as planned.

“I wasn’t crazy or anything,” Joseph said of his travel troubles. “I was just a little surprised at how ridiculous everything was. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong that night.”

After his first flight was canceled, Joseph was rescheduled for another to Montreal on December 26. He said he was disappointed he couldn’t go home for Christmas Day, but when we spoke to his mum on the phone they realized it wasn’t the worst that could happen.

“Christmas is really, it’s just one day. We could celebrate Christmas whenever we want.”

But that was just the beginning of Joseph’s travel disruptions.

With storms across the country over Christmas weekend this year, thousands of Canadians faced cancellations and delays to air and train travel. Even if the weather is clearing up now, many still have not reached their destination.

“It was a joyful return home”

Joseph’s flight to Montreal was delayed on December 26, so he missed his connection to Charlottetown.

When he arrived in Montreal late at night, the airline told him they would put him on hold for the next day’s flight and gave him a voucher for a nearby hotel.

But when he took a taxi to the address, Joseph said there was no hotel there – just a frame where a building once stood.

“I don’t really know what to do now,” Joseph said, recalling the incident.

Joseph and Kathy Luppe decorate their family Christmas tree on December 28. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

He said his taxi driver was kind enough to take him to the nearest hotel. When he woke up the next morning, his mother called with good news: she had booked a flight for him to Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Kathy Luppe, Joseph’s mother, said that after booking the flight, the family immediately had to get in the car to drive six and a half hours to Sydney. She was worried all the way that Joseph’s flight would be canceled again.

“It’s almost like a surreal thing because I said, ‘Until I see him, until I see his physical person go through, I still, I find it hard to believe … we’re really going to see it,” said Kathy, who is a retired teacher.

But see, they did. Joseph finally landed in the Maritimes on December 27, a week after his first flight.

December 28, 2022
The stockings now hang in the Luppe house to celebrate Christmas. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

“He did a really big happy dance right at the airport,” Kathy said.

“It was a happy homecoming. We had a big family hug.”

Resuming family traditions

This Christmas was very special for the Luppes as they just moved to Prince Edward Island in August. The family hadn’t been able to celebrate their usual Christmas for years because Kathy and her husband were teaching in Saudi Arabia.

“For the past six years, Christmas has been fleeting,” Kathy said.

“We traveled to another country or we had to end up in an Airbnb and, you know, settle for this or that.”

But with Joseph back home, the family finally celebrated the holidays together as they have in the past. Wednesday was the family’s Christmas Eve and they spent the day decorating their tree, opening advent calendars and drinking hot chocolate.

Even the Luppes’ extended family in Charlottetown delayed celebrating Christmas this year until Joseph came home.

Despite the difficulties it took for Joseph to return home, Kathy said all was well.

“When bad things happen or you’re disappointed, there’s always a flip side. There’s a silver lining, and it’s worth the wait.”

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