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Monday,  May 20, 2024 7:58 AM 

Historic snowfall disrupts Halifax flights; airlines activate flexible policies

  • Air
  •   02-05-2024  9:21 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Historic snowfall disrupts Halifax flights; airlines activate flexible policies
Pax Global Media

Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) announced “numerous” flight delays and cancellations on Monday (Feb. 5) as Nova Scotia endures its heaviest snowfall in two decades.

“If you're coming to the airport today, confirm your flight status with your airline or at before leaving home,” YHZ wrote on the social platform X. “Give yourself extra time to arrive safely.”

The departures section of Halifax airport’s website on Monday morning paints a sad picture.  Most morning departures – with exception to two Air Canada flights, one to Ottawa and one to Gander – are listed as either cancelled or delayed.

A local state of emergency remains in effect in parts of the Eastern Canada region as more than 80 centimetres of snow – amplified by winds that have caused huge snowdrifts – has been reported in eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has declared an emergency and is urging people to stay at home.

“Do not travel," the municipality wrote in an online post. “Roadways are being cleared for emergency response and travel of essential workers. The process is slow and plows require several passes to deal with the significant accumulation.''

Unofficial records show more than 100 centimetres of snow in Sydney, the largest community in Cape Breton, the Canadian Press reports.

As well, some 6,000 power outages were reported across the province Monday morning.

The snowfall appears to set a new record for the region - 95 cm of snow in and around the Halifax area landed nearly 20 years ago during a storm known as White Juan.

Airlines respond 

Canadian airlines that serve Halifax have posted flexible rebooking policies for travellers that are impacted.

Air Canada has revised its ticketing policy to make it easier for customers travelling on an affected flight to make changes to their booking without penalty (space permitting).

If a flight is affected, customers can retrieve their booking to change thir flight free of charge, according to the airline’s website.

Customers who booked through Air Canada Vacations are advised to contact the tour operator directly at directly at 1-800-296-3408.

As of Monday morning, WestJet activated flexible rebooking terms for Halifax-based air and packages with WestJet Vacations, but for Sunday (Feb. 4) only.

A new winter advisory, however, was posted Feb. 5 for travel out of St. John's, NL. Click here to see the airline’s update rebooking policy for impacted flights.

Porter Airlines, which also serves Halifax, has posted a travel alert on Feb. 5, advising customers to go to My Bookings to learn if their flight is eligible for complimentary changes.

“A waiver may be issued for select flights, allowing passengers to change their bookings to fly earlier or later than scheduled, avoiding potential travel disruptions,” Porter writes on its website. “Ensure the contact information provided on your reservation is accurate, so we may notify you of last-minute changes to your flight status by email or text message.”

“If your flight is cancelled or delayed by 15 minutes or more, a flight notification will be sent to you. Passengers on eligible flights will be able to change or cancel their bookings online without penalty, space permitting.”

"If your flight is cancelled and you have not received a notification, please visit My Bookings to view or modify your itinerary.”

Sunwing first alerted its customers of heavy snowfall in Halifax on Feb. 2, warning travellers that bad weather would continue through Monday.

“Travellers with flight departures during this period are encouraged to sign up for flight alerts and check their flight status before travelling, and should allow plenty of time to arrive at the airport,” Sunwing wrote on its website. “

“We are monitoring the weather forecast closely and will do all that we can to minimize disruptions to customers' travel plans.”

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