Dear editor: I have a story of how we were treated by Air Canada after we could not land in Deer Lake and had to land in Gander on Sunday, Jan. 21 around 8:30 p.m.
When we left Halifax at 18:20 and was to arrive in Deer Lake at 20:04 we were on flight No. 8882 operated by Air Canada Express-Jag.
The weather was good until the pilot announced that we will be landing in Deer Lake shortly. There was not a word from the pilot or crew afterwards.
I could hear the landing gear was put down and the speed of the plane was reduced and, all at once, the plane started to bounce around from side to side and up and down.
Just as the plane was close to landing the plane was caught in the cross wind and my heart went up in my throat, my wife was terrified, she grabbed my arm and would not let go.
I thought the plane was going to crash, finally the pilot managed to get the plane up in the air again.
The pilot announced that we will be going to Gander to land and that he would not try to land in Deer Lake again.
After a little while the steward came down the aisle and asked how we were doing. I asked her why we weren’t able to land at Stephenville airport. She told me that Air Canada does not service Stephenville airport.
After landing in Gander we were told to stay aboard the plane until Air Canada knew what they were going to do with the 30 or so passengers onboard.
After waiting on the plane for a while the pilot announced that Transport Canada has grounded the plane and there is no maintenance workers on to inspect the plane.
The plane must have some damage in that cross wind in Deer Lake.
After waiting on the plane for a while, an employee from Gander airport came on board and told us that we have to leave the plane and follow her to this room at the airport and that she would bring in food and tea and coffee for us. If we left this room we were on our own and would have to pay for everything.
The employee told us there were only two workers on and they were called in and the reason we had to stay in this room was because there was no security on. We were then told that we would be put up in hotels in Gander for the night.
After a while we were told they would fly us back to Halifax and we would be on our own. A little while later we were told that they would fly us to St. John’s and there was a possibility of flying us back to Deer Lake the next day.
After a while we were told the pilot would not fly us to St. John’s and then we were told by the employee that she would try to get a bus to take all the passengers back to Deer Lake airport. After waiting a long time the employee came back and told us that she could not get a bus and was going to try to get taxis. She finally came back and said she had five taxis lined up to take us to Deer Lake airport.
What a run-around we had at Gander airport with Air Canada.
My wife and our friend and I never left Gander airport until 11 p.m. Sunday. The taxi driver was a wonderful person, but there was no heat on in the taxi and he put down the window a couple of times. We were frozen by the time we got to Deer Lake airport at around 3 a.m. After picking up our vehicle at the airport we decided to stay at the Deer Lake Motel instead of driving to Stephenville that night.
When we checked in we told the lady on duty what had happened and we were cold and hungry and did not eat since dinner time in Halifax.
The lady took us to the dining hall and told us to help ourselves to the food that was there.
I would like to give a big thank you to that lady and the Deer Lake Motel.
In closing the pilot should have made contact with Deer Lake airport to see what the wind conditions were like before he tried to land. This pilot had our lives in his hands.
Dave Kane writes from Stephenville Crossing.