A good week to stay home/Porter saves Star reporter/WestJet sun destinations
What a mess.
Porter AIrlines has cancelled all its flights from Toronto to Newark, New Jersey and to Boston and Washington (Dulles) due to Hurricane Sandy. Naturally, that means the flights aren't going the other way, either.
Judging by the flight status tools on the Air Canada website and WestJet's site, they, too, have cancelled all or most flights to and from Toronto and the northeast U.S. states affected by the hurricane.
"WJ for sure has cancelled their LaGuardia service," Pearson spokesman Scott Armstrong wrote to me in email. "I"m quite sure AC has done the same for the eastern seaboard."
Armstrong said 20 per cent of regularly scheduled flights have been cancelled at Pearson; roughly 300 in all. But that still leaves 1,000 flights operating as normal, he said.
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick sent me a note and said customers should be sure to consult aircanada.com or the local airport website before going to the airport today to be sure their flight is operating.
Air Canada has waived change fees for flights to and from US northeast airports until Wednesday Oct 31. Customers are strongly encouraged to consult the latest information online at www.aircanada.com and rebook themselves online using our self-service rebooking tool in order to avoid longer call centre wait times.
"We are monitoring the situation in the US northeast very closely with local airport authorities and will be adjusting our schedule as necessary over the coming days as airports re-open and we are able to get our customers to their destinations safely and as quickly as possible," FItzpatrick said. "We thank our customers for their patience and encourage them to continue consulting our travel alerts at aircanada.com for updates."
Associated Press reports that airports in the metropolitan New York City area are open, but air carriers are not operating. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Monday that travellers shouldn't even try to go to Kennedy, Newark Liberty or LaGuardia.According to some reports, some 7,000 flights in and around the eastern seaboard of the U.S. have been cancelled, and some already are cancelled for tomorrow. American Express just sent me an advisory saying that, for today, there are 774 cancellations at Newark, 428 at Dulles in Washington and 355 cancellations at Philadelphia. I can only imagine how crazy it must be for folks trying to get in a vacation or business trip...
It's not so bad for flights within Canada, but there appear to be some issues with high winds in Toronto and also with fog in the Maritimes. So even if you're travelling elsewhere, BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR FLIGHT STATUS early and often as this is shaping up to some kind of terrible, terrible week.
It was pretty messy in New York City yesterday. Here's a good report on how Porter folks in Newark saved the day for Star reporter Richard Ouzounian...
Trying to leave New York City on Sunday night while Hurricane Sandy moved ever closer, I was reminded once again why many Torontonians prefer Porter via Newark for trips to the Big Apple.
At the end of a weekend getaway with my wife, we woke Sunday morning to discover a city under siege. All major stores announced a 4 p.m. closing, restaurants were calling to cancel evening reservations and any shows planning performances called them off. The subways were due to shut down at 7 p.m. and word of that (only the second closure in the city's history)triggered a kind of "last chopper out of Saigon" mentality in the city.
We were holding reservations on a 7:30 p.m. Porter flight back to Toronto out of Newark and we started for the airport three hours in advance. Not for the first time, we were delighted that we were taking the New Jersey Transit train from Penn Station to Newark International Airport. (If you've never done it, it costs $12.50 one way, takes 25 minutes and leaves frequently.)
Penn Station was jammed beyond belief, but the trains left on time and the bottom line is that we were at the airport in 45 minutes from the midtown theatre matinee we attended, while we heard and saw traffic reports of gridlock on all the bridges and tunnels going in and out of Manhattan. That cab ride to LaGuardia? Your limo through the Lincoln Tunnel? Fuggeddaboutit.
Any short-term joy we may have felt was dispelled by the longest line waiting to go through security at Newark I'd ever seen. A combination of airlines moving flights earlier to beat the storm and airport employees not showing up because of Sandy Mania created a perfect storm (if you'll pardon the expression) of congestion.
We started waiting two hours before our departure time. We were still waiting 90 minutes later and might be waiting still were it not for a Porter ground worker in Newark who suddenly appeared, called for all Porter passengers, got us together, went up to airport security and demanded we been taken through at once so we wouldn't miss out flight.
The hundreds of people waiting with us for flights on British Airways, Air India and other carriers had no such luck. But our valiant wizard (I think of him as Harry Porter) talked us through with a mixture of calm confidence and perfectly-estimated aggression. We even had time to enjoy a free cappuccino at Porter's new airport lounge at EWR before boarding the plane, pulling away from the gate on time and landing in Toronto on schedule.
I thanked our rescuer personally as he got us on board, but I didn't ask his name. So, whoever you are, Porter ground employee in Newark, I salute you and your company for taking care of us Sunday night. I'm now an even bigger fan.
WEST JET LAUNCHES SUN DESTINATIONSWestJet on Sunday began twice-weekly service between Toronto Pearson and Antigua and Barbuda's V.C. Bird International Airport. Weekly service to Curaçao International Airport also began on Sunday from T.O.
Today (Monday), WestJet commences twice-weekly non-stop seasonal service to Liberia, Costa Rica. And on November 16 they'll add daily non-stop seasonal service between Pearson and Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
"With the addition of three more sun destinations from Toronto Pearson today and tomorrow, plus another one two weeks from now, WestJet continues to expand service from Canada's largest airport," said Peter Tong, WestJet's Director of Network and Schedule Planning. "We have almost doubled our service from Toronto Pearson to international destinations in just three short years, and have grown our overall service by almost one-third in the same period. Clearly, we remain focused on continued growth at a key Canadian gateway."