Two of the planes were larger models that don’t usually fly into the Deer Lake Airport. Once off the planes, passengers were lined up at the Air Canada and rental car kiosks hoping to find a way to get to their destinations.
Some passengers even chartered a bus and were asking other passengers to join them in hopes of being able to afford the trip. A ride on a large bus from Deer Lake to St. John’s was going for about $50 per person. One was filled, and passengers were trying to fill a second vehicle as of 3:30 Friday afternoon.
Most passengers admitted to being confused about what to do once they landed. Some complained they weren’t given any instructions once on the ground, while others complained they should be offered a hotel room. Everyone polled by The Western Star suggested the airline should have had someone on the ground to help.
Passenger Colleen Coombs was heading to St. John’s from Toronto for a funeral, and was angry that she could not get her luggage.
“The funeral is Sunday, we have already made arrangements to get there from here,” she said. “But I don’t understand why they can’t give us our luggage. We haven’t been told anything.”
Other passengers said they were angry about missing appointments.
Passenger Renee Ramzy said she is up for a doctor’s position in central Newfoundland but had to be in St. John’s for an interview. While standing in line at the Air Canada kiosk, she said being rerouted is not fun.
“It’s weather, man. Just chill — it can’t last forever.” - Passenger on flight rerouted from St. John's to Deer Lake
“It was a little scary up there when they told us we had to land somewhere else,” said Ramzy, who is originally from Egypt. “I had to call in and tell (my employer) what has happened and that I’m going to be late. This is not good.”
One passenger, sitting on a chair near the cafeteria using a laptop, seemed more relaxed.
“It’s weather, man,” he said to other passengers. “Just chill — it can’t last forever.”
Airport manager Jamie Schwartz said, although the airport doesn’t usually get three planes in at once, rerouted planes are not unusual.
“This happens. It’s not out of the ordinary to get redirected aircraft in winter or early spring,” he said. “Three (airplanes) is more than usual and it did create some congestion but we’ll get through it.”
Air Canada responded via email to a request for information, stating that the reason the luggage could not be taken off the planes was because the appropriate equipment was not available in Deer Lake for offloading from these particular aircraft. An airline spokesperson said passengers were advised that the baggage would remain on board and later flown directly to St. John’s.