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Weather and airlines to blame for December travel chaos, survey says

Canadians are demanding more government regulations to protect travellers.
Snow at YVR airport
The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) runway a few years back.

A majority of Canadians are blaming the weather, airlines and rail companies for the holiday travel chaos that ensued in December 2022, according to a new Angus Reid Institute survey released on Wednesday.

Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. and Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s two busiest airports, were impacted by snowstorms in mid-December, which resulted in a massive number of cancelled and delayed flights.

Many Canadians and visitors were grounded and either had to delay or were unable to complete their holiday travel plans.

According to the survey, 70 per cent of Canadians say the weather was the biggest culprit of the travel delays while 68 per cent say the fault fell on airlines and rail companies.

One in three people blame the federal government while a similar number blame travellers for “putting themselves in the situation.”

Data from the survey further showed 78 per cent of Canadians are calling for more government regulation to protect travellers and consumers from airline and company cancellations.

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of people want the Canadian Transportation Agency to levy fines against airlines that “failed to uphold customer rights,” even if airlines increase ticket prices to cover the fines.

Two in five Canadians say the federal government “failed to prepare” for the increase in travellers and winter chaos despite Transport Minister Omar Alghabra holding a summit with airlines and airports in November to “learn lessons” from last summer’s travel troubles, the institute noted in a release.

Air Canada's vice-president of systems operations control, Kevin O'Connor, had blamed YVR for the long tarmac wait times when questioned by the House of Commons transport committee last week. YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman, on the other hand, said Air Canada did not request for help to bring supplies for passengers stuck on board. 

The survey was conducted online from Jan. 6 to 10 and received responses from 1,611 random Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.