Fogbound

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Flight activity resumes in St. John's Monday

Carly Starr from Seattle and Alexei Perry from Montreal were in St. John's on the weekend for the Juno celebrations. But, unfortunately, they spent more time over three days stranded in airports than at any of the events.

Monday morning the two women were sitting on the floor of the airport lobby, Perry glued to her cellphone waiting for word on their latest delayed flight.

Alexei Perry of the band Handsome Furs was one of many people here for the Junos but was stranded Monday at St. John's Airport. - Photo By Mark Burt/Special to The Telegram.

Carly Starr from Seattle and Alexei Perry from Montreal were in St. John's on the weekend for the Juno celebrations. But, unfortunately, they spent more time over three days stranded in airports than at any of the events.

Monday morning the two women were sitting on the floor of the airport lobby, Perry glued to her cellphone waiting for word on their latest delayed flight.

Perry and her husband Dan Boeckner are members of the band Handsome Furs, while Starr works at their record label, Sub Pop Records.

Perry and Boeckner were stuck in Halifax for 32 hours and missed a scheduled performance in St. John's Friday night .

"But then they played a last minute show and we had a great time here," Starr said. "I'm now trying to make it back to Seattle; they're going to Montreal. The biggest thing is that Alexei has a flight to Beijing in two days, so she just wants to try to make sure that she gets home to get that flight."

Starr learned early Monday morning that her 5 a.m. Air Canada flight out of St. John's had been cancelled. Then a 9 a.m. flight was also cancelled. She said she was told that she might get out Tuesday, while Perry and Boeckner were told they might not get a flight until Friday because of backlogs.

Starr said Air Canada staff at St. John's Airport couldn't give them any information or assistance. Instead, they were given a customer service number to call. Starr said she was on hold 2-1/2 hours Sunday night before she could even speak to someone.

"That's what we're doing right now. Even though there's people at the counter they won't rebook your flight, you have to call," Starr said.

Airlines were concerned Sunday night about volcanic ash forecast to encroach into airspace around St. John's, but Monday it was typical Newfoundland fog that was blamed for the delays.

Starr and Perry were looking at all options to get out of St. John's, including booking with WestJet if a flight became available, or even taking a bus across the province to the Port aux Basques ferry. It would be a really long trip, Starr said, "but I think as long as we start to move a little bit, we'll all feel a little bit better, just making some kind of progress."

Lynn and Keith Langille of Ottawa were also in St. John's for the Junos and also spent 30 hours in Halifax before arriving in St. John's.

Lynn said they always wanted to visit Newfoundland and decided to make the trip because their friend Caroline Leonardelli, a harpist, was nominated for an award in the classical category.

The couple missed all the parties Friday night and just made it into St. John's within seconds of the start of Juno celebrations Saturday night.

"We had to get dressed up in Halifax and go on the plane like that," Keith said.

"Yes, we had our jewels on, to fly in and we looked ridiculous, but we looked great when we got in there to the Junos," Lynn added.

Monday morning Keith was supposed to be back to work in Ottawa. Instead, he was sitting at St. John's Airport reading a newspaper, while his wife read a paperback novel.

Their Porter Airlines flight was scheduled to leave St. John's at 6:45 a.m., but Keith said it was cancelled because of the possibility of volcanic ash, which seemed to him to be "kind of ludicrous."

He said the airlines should have allowed flights to leave if they could take off and only cancel if they really had to cancel.

On the positive side, Lynn said they had a wonderful visit in St. John's, although they would have liked to stay longer.

"Last night we walked downtown until about 1 o'clock this morning," she said, and Monday morning because of the flight delays, they were able to sleep in a bit.

"And we got to see George Street in action," Keith said.

The couple had hoped to get out of St. John's on a later flight Monday.

Randy Mahon, director of operations with the St. John's Airport Authority, said some flights were coming and going by Monday afternoon, but passengers were still being advised to check with their individual airlines for schedule changes.

"Generally speaking, flights are operating in and out of St. John's," Mahon said, "I guess normal operations, or as normal as you can have in low visibility conditions like we have today." He said the backlog of passengers was gradually dwindling as more flights were able to get in and out of St. John's.

While volcanic ash from Iceland's erupting volcano, migrating toward the East Coast of Canada, is still being monitored with Environment Canada, Mahon said Monday's flight disruptions were mainly due to fog.

He said the airport has been in touch also with Transport Canada's civil aviation contingency operations centre on a regular basis and they've also been in touch with weather observers on the Hibernia platform, but up to Monday afternoon no volcanic ash had been sighted.

Laura Cummings, communications officer with Environment Canada, said Monday part of the ash cloud is moving southwest of Iceland, which has been confirmed by modeling simulations in Montreal.

"However," she said, "the ash cloud is very diffuse, moving slowly and should not affect Canadian airports. Though extremely disruptive for air traffic, this is, to date, a minor volcanic eruption and should have insignificant impact on weather and climate."

A spokesperson at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax, which is manned by the Canadian Forces Air Command and Canadian Coast Guard, said Monday their helicopters haven't been grounded, despite the volcanic ash forecasts and fog conditions.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: St. John's Airport, Air Canada, Sub Pop Records WestJet Environment Canada Porter Airlines Transport Canada Hibernia Joint Rescue Co Canadian Forces Air Command Canadian Coast Guard

Geographic location: St. John's, Montreal, Halifax Seattle Newfoundland Beijing Ottawa Port aux Basques Iceland George Street East Coast Canada

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    love the pic. alexei wearing epaulets sitting on the airport floor. so frustrating

  • Andrew
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I see the CBS superiority train has arrived.

  • Newfoundland#1
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Dizzle from NL it would cost way, way more than 26 million to build two strips, lights, a tower, a fence, a building for baggage and security, ILS, baggage handlers and machinery, a standing security force, fuel depot, de-icers, radar, maintenance depot, etc... Then you have to think of ongoing shuttle costs forever. Have you thought of that ? No. Being the expert, you thought they could just land on the CBS highway.

  • Old Man Winter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Well, if we decided to build another landing strip, we'd have to pay for the extra landing strip and also purchase the device for safely landing in the fog. I hear ya, but its essentially nonsense.

  • Anne-Marie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    the picture shows me how flexible the lady is and the phone stuck to her hear shows me how frustrated she is ..well too bad.. it's a chance one takes when they come to our island is to be fog bound and believe me one could be stuck in a far worse place in this great world of ours!!!

  • Fay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Starr said Air Canada staff at St. John's Airport couldn't give them any information or assistance. Instead, they were given a customer service number to call.


    Why in God's name would you need to call a customer service number to find out about a flight on Air Canada when you are there AT the airport with Air Canada computers in front of the staff. I mean... are they calling outside to be redirected back into the terminal to speak with someone at the desk. Air Canada and perhaps many other airlines really need to get their act together and HELP PEOPLE AT THE COUNTER. I suppose that could be the problem too, you hardly ever see any airline staff when you take a flight, there's rarely anyone around. Talking to a real, live person in front of your face as opposed to trying to connect to a distant telephone operator in India is a far more pleasant and soothing experience when things go wrong in the world's most frustrating and inhospitable building of travel - airline terminals. Cheap b@st@rd airlines.

  • Dizzle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Drove to East End St. John's from sunny CBS early evening yesterday...hit the all to common fog bank around Pippy Park turnoff. I've heard that $26 Million is required for a system to enable planes to land in fog....why not spend less on a secondary landing strip a 10-20 kms West of existing airport???

  • member of the 20%
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    The fog should lift any minute now; the House is open and if the hot air drifts from the Confusion Bldg to the airport, flights will get back on schedule. And, Little Man Dan should be in good spirits today as he was successful in his pursuit of a Justin Bieber autograph. All is well again in the Kingdom of Dan. Heavy stuff on the agenda you know; what with the Junos in town, the playoffs on TV and not a by-election in sight, the goodship Tory is on cruise.

  • Laughable
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Anne-Marie...was that comment really necessary? Did you even read the article?

  • joe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    love the pic. alexei wearing epaulets sitting on the airport floor. so frustrating

  • Andrew
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I see the CBS superiority train has arrived.

  • Newfoundland#1
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Dizzle from NL it would cost way, way more than 26 million to build two strips, lights, a tower, a fence, a building for baggage and security, ILS, baggage handlers and machinery, a standing security force, fuel depot, de-icers, radar, maintenance depot, etc... Then you have to think of ongoing shuttle costs forever. Have you thought of that ? No. Being the expert, you thought they could just land on the CBS highway.

  • Old Man Winter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Well, if we decided to build another landing strip, we'd have to pay for the extra landing strip and also purchase the device for safely landing in the fog. I hear ya, but its essentially nonsense.

  • Anne-Marie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    the picture shows me how flexible the lady is and the phone stuck to her hear shows me how frustrated she is ..well too bad.. it's a chance one takes when they come to our island is to be fog bound and believe me one could be stuck in a far worse place in this great world of ours!!!

  • Fay
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Starr said Air Canada staff at St. John's Airport couldn't give them any information or assistance. Instead, they were given a customer service number to call.


    Why in God's name would you need to call a customer service number to find out about a flight on Air Canada when you are there AT the airport with Air Canada computers in front of the staff. I mean... are they calling outside to be redirected back into the terminal to speak with someone at the desk. Air Canada and perhaps many other airlines really need to get their act together and HELP PEOPLE AT THE COUNTER. I suppose that could be the problem too, you hardly ever see any airline staff when you take a flight, there's rarely anyone around. Talking to a real, live person in front of your face as opposed to trying to connect to a distant telephone operator in India is a far more pleasant and soothing experience when things go wrong in the world's most frustrating and inhospitable building of travel - airline terminals. Cheap b@st@rd airlines.

  • Dizzle
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Drove to East End St. John's from sunny CBS early evening yesterday...hit the all to common fog bank around Pippy Park turnoff. I've heard that $26 Million is required for a system to enable planes to land in fog....why not spend less on a secondary landing strip a 10-20 kms West of existing airport???

  • member of the 20%
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    The fog should lift any minute now; the House is open and if the hot air drifts from the Confusion Bldg to the airport, flights will get back on schedule. And, Little Man Dan should be in good spirits today as he was successful in his pursuit of a Justin Bieber autograph. All is well again in the Kingdom of Dan. Heavy stuff on the agenda you know; what with the Junos in town, the playoffs on TV and not a by-election in sight, the goodship Tory is on cruise.

  • Laughable
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Anne-Marie...was that comment really necessary? Did you even read the article?