Extreme cold in Toronto forced a ground stop at Pearson International Airport Tuesday morning that prevented planes from landing and sparked a domino effect at airports across Canada.
Montreal flights to and from Ottawa and the northeastern United States, including Chicago, were also affected by extreme weather in those cities.
Pearson’s ground stop ended at 10 a.m. Tuesday, but the backlog it created could take days to clear-up in certain cases.
The situation led to mass confusion at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, where hundreds of passengers contended with long line-ups as they tried to rebook flights.
Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said the weather made it difficult to provide passengers with information about possible departures.
"We know they want to get on their way. We also know they want to travel safely and that's our priority.We are going to move them. But only once we can do so safely," he said.
Traveller Tom Court spoke with CBC News and said it could be a couple of days before he and his family can get a flight out of Montreal to Calgary.
"It's not looking good, but that's what you've got to live with. It's Canada, it's what we deal with," he said.
Passengers’ saga ends
There was some relief amid the frustration as close to 400 passengers of two CanJet flights from Cuba finally made it home after being stuck on the tarmac in Fredericton for nearly six hours yesterday.
Freezing rain in Montreal on Sunday night saw the flights diverted to Fredericton International Airport, where a lack of customs agents prevented the passengers from leaving the planes. Passengers had to wait onboard for six hours before they were finally allowed to leave the planes and given hotel rooms.
Passenger Marie-Soleil Diorio, who was travelling with her husband and four children, said the wait was excruciating.
“It had been about 24 hours since we had eaten,” she told CBC News.
She said passengers stuck on her plane were given little information about what was happening.
“We would have liked to have more communication, we had no idea what was going on, when we would be able to get out,” she said.