Vancouver airport promising improvements following Christmas season travel mess

Officials at Vancouver International Airport are promising new real-time weather monitoring equipment, gate protocols and better communication after releasing a review of travel chaos caused by last December’s snow.

Seven days of severe winter weather during the busiest days of the year caused 1,300 flight cancellations and other disruptions, affecting more than 180,000 passengers, the report said.

Two dozen planes with passengers waited on the tarmac for up to 11 hours because there were no gates, passengers were given inaccurate information and communications from airport authorities were inadequate, the report said.

It concluded that the problems were not caused by a single cause, but were caused by winter weather conditions that caused demand to exceed capacity, triggering a cycle of delays, cancellations and congestion.

Metro Vancouver was hit with several snowstorms between December 18 and 23, causing widespread flight cancellations and delays.

The airport authority has promised improvements, including better weather monitoring and luggage tracking equipment, new gate protocols so passengers can disembark planes within 30 minutes of landing, and better training of staff to improve passenger support.

“I’m not going to whitewash it. It’s not our best moment,” airport chief executive Tamara Vrooman said in a letter included in the report.

“We kept our safety promises. Our customer service promises weren’t.”

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