Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 10, 2018 - 10:20 am

Passengers land in Iqaluit with only the clothes on their backs

To catch-up on cancelled flights, First Air delays luggage by 24 hours

BETH BROWN
A weekend storm in Iqaluit means many holiday travellers are late getting home this week, and lots of passengers are arriving without luggage. (FILE PHOTO)
A weekend storm in Iqaluit means many holiday travellers are late getting home this week, and lots of passengers are arriving without luggage. (FILE PHOTO)

It’s been a week of weather-related travel hold-ups for Iqalungmiut, for those in the city and for those away from home.

While Iqaluit residents were mostly back on track as of Tuesday, airline passengers scheduled to return to Iqaluit over the weekend are only just getting to town.

And many arrived with only the clothes on their backs.

To get as many people home as quickly as possible, passenger luggage has been purposely delayed on First Air flights, with a tentative promise that the bags will come 24 hours later.

“We understand that it’s not always an easy situation for passengers when weather conditions hit like this,” First Air spokesperson Dan Valin said.

“We also understand that the priority for many of the passengers is to be able to return home and to return to normal operations as quickly as possible, both from a professional standpoint and from a personal standpoint,” he said, likely speaking of jobs and family, as well as pets and houses that have been left with sitters.

In an effort to get people home fast, the daily First Air passenger flight is being packed to its 160-person capacity, to meet the backlog of passengers who missed the cancelled weekend flights.

“We’ve had full flights on that aircraft yesterday and today,” he said.

Since only some passenger luggage arrived, this caused quite the crowd of travellers around the luggage corral on Tuesday.

All of them were asking the same questions about baggage arrival, pick-up times and the treatment of perishables.

Valin said the plan is to get delayed luggage delivered on the next available flight.

Since this could create a domino effect of delayed bags for days, extra space is being made for passenger luggage on regular cargo flights.

“We have a scheduled cargo freighter that goes into Iqaluit and that’s going to carry some luggage as well as the regular cargo shipments, to be able to help on the backlog,” he said. “Normally we don’t put luggage on the freighters, as we prioritize cargo.”

Besides the blizzard and full holiday flights, the luggage holds-ups also come from the added amount of luggage being checked by First Air passengers, Valin said. 

“Passengers that travel north take a lot of luggage with them. It’s a higher volume than normal at times and we can’t necessarily bring the luggage on the same flight.”

For those passengers travelling on to other communities, Valin said the airline will make efforts to get bags delivered when possible.

“First Air is committed to limiting the impact as much as we can on all passengers.”

As for flights cancelled over the weekend to and from Nunavut communities, he said luggage delays were less of a problem in that area and those flight schedules are getting back on track now.

“A blizzard is a blizzard, it’s bad no matter what. Obviously safety is the thing that’s important for everyone,” Valin said.

Canadian North was not immediately available for comment.

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(16) Comments:

#1. Posted by Nuna on January 10, 2018

Where is the story about Canadian north having no baffin area community flights for a week and a half due to all the dashes being mechanical and grounded? People stuck in pang for 9 days doesn’t make the news.

#2. Posted by Green store on January 10, 2018

Or they could take half the passengers and all their bags, which means some people spend 2 extra days at their own expense… as a frequent traveller I would rather the first. And most of those people live here, do they not? If you carry all your clothes in your luggage when you travel that is about a smart as putting your wallet, ID, house keys and your medication you require to live in there too.

#3. Posted by Harold (iqaluit) on January 10, 2018

my first trip in over 7 years was a compleet disaster ! it began on the flight to ottawa when i could not buckle my seat belt and it ate up the side of my traveling pants . i had a giant hole on my side the entire trip ! it was uterly humiliating . we spent our vacation at my mother in laws house . i was hoping she would be kinder in old age but she is as awful as ever . i am glad our little dog toby made a mess of her house .

on the way back after an awful night in a hotel in neppean i was flabergas to learn that our bags had gone missing along with toby . i yelled at the staff how am i suppost to go about my business with no underwear ! she was quite sorry and offered to pay for a new pair with her own money . i drove her to northmert and we selected the most expensive pair . they are uncomfortable and baggy . toby arrived 3 days later . i was worried he would be famished but he was as fat as ever . the bag handlers must have fed him lots of sweets which my wife would not approove !

#4. Posted by Phil Lange on January 10, 2018

@ #3 Harold (Iqaluit)! Most excellent!  You could work through your anger and start your literary career at the same time by writing up your trip as a short story or novel. You already have talent for writing vivid prose. Many famous works of literature have less drama than your trip to Ottawa. I hope Toby is fine.

#5. Posted by Sam on January 10, 2018

#3 hahaha true northern humour this is northern canada not Florida suck it up sissies

#6. Posted by Bert Rose on January 10, 2018

Canadian North did exactly the same thing - suitcases to arrive 24 hours later
#3 - you simply ask the cabin attendant for a seat belt extension - I do it all the time

#7. Posted by Hindenburg crash on January 10, 2018

Oh, the humanity !!

#8. Posted by Safety Belt on January 10, 2018

Flight Attendants routinely go around checking seat belts.  It is a requirement of Transport Canada. 
Very good example though of making sure you do not have to suffer buying pants on matters of not your own fault.  Passengers ought to be more insistent.  Not crazy mad but not taking a NO for an answer.

#9. Posted by Fly on January 10, 2018

Why are they not operating two or three flights a day to catch-up?

#10. Posted by ThankFull Man on January 11, 2018

Bagage Handlers,Ramp,WOrkers,Maintenance Personel From First Air and Canadian North Both Been Working Hard On The Coldest and Windy Days in Iqaluit,I Just Want To Say Good Works Guys.Amazing Job Under The Circonstance Of Extreme Frezing Cold and Maintenance Braving The Cold Each Time Mechanical Problems Ariese The Canadian North Maintenance is Fix By Hardworking Men Braving The Harsh COld Frezzing Condition Of The Arctic

#11. Posted by pissed off on January 11, 2018

People should ease off a bit on their never ending complaints when it comes to events influenced by weather.

I was stuck in Ottawa after the 2nd day of cancelled flights this fall. Guess what ?? all the hotels around the airport filled up within minutes after the cancellation. Are we gonna bitch at these hotels for not being able to serve us. Get real!!!  Things happen that are beyond our control.

#12. Posted by pissed off on January 11, 2018

as far as no 9 is concerned get real also!!!

You think they can pull flights out of a hat??
There are only so many planes and so many crews to fly them. There are ver reasonable restrictions on flight time for the crews.

Also so what is better? flying the passengers or flying the Christmas gifts ?

Lastly,  I dare anyone of you that complain to go and attend to the planes at the wicked temperatures seen on the runway in the winter storms.

#13. Posted by Northern on January 11, 2018

Nuna, canadian north is too busy planning for the northern lights gala in ottawa hahah. global affairs first I guess

#14. Posted by You ask for it on January 11, 2018

Deep down, people want a duopoly. So they should be satisfied of what comes with it.

#15. Posted by Native on January 11, 2018

This news source does seem to pick on First Air a lot. Even though Canadian North does a lot of the same stuff and worse.

#16. Posted by Keep It Simple on January 11, 2018

Always travel with a change of clothes in your carry-on, appropriate for where you are going and where you might end up.

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