Register or login today to start collecting Courier points!


Air travellers fly the frenzied skies during Christmas holidays

Print PDF

Four-and-a-half-month-old Mason Petretta flew for the first time Saturday to Kelowna from Vancouver with mom May.
Little Mason Petretta arrived at Kelowna International Airport stress free Saturday, even though he flew on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
"He ate well and then just slept for the whole flight," said his mom, May. "His ears didn't bother him at all."
The short hop to Kelowna from Vancouver was the four-and-a-half-month-old baby's first plane ride.
The trip wasn't quite as stress free for mom and dad Greg.
"The plane actually left early and we were cutting it close with all the stuff we had, so they had to hold the flight a bit and we ran to get on," said May. "But we're here now and everything's good."
After spending Christmas in Vancouver with her folks, the newly expanded Petretta family will be spending New Year's in Kelowna with Greg's parents.
"We do alternating Christmas and New Year's with the families," May explained while Greg was off collecting luggage from the carousel.
At the other end of the terminal, Cameron Shillington and Jessica McAllister sat with their assembled luggage and ski equipment, killing time.
"We got in on time a half-hour ago from Calgary, but we didn't book a shuttle to Big White, so we've got a wait until the next one arrives," said Shillington.
"It's our own fault. We should have pre-booked."
The young couple will spend five days over New Year's skiing and having fun at Big White near Kelowna.
"We're really looking forward to it," said Shillington. "I hear the conditions are good and we've got time off, so it will be great."
Along with a few days prior to Christmas and a couple of days after New Year's, the weekend between the two holidays are the busiest days for air travel in Kelowna, across Canada and throughout the world.
People are flying into Kelowna from holidays all over the world, and others are heading home after spending Christmas in the Okanagan with family and friends.
On top of that, there's all the coming and going for ski breaks and vacations in warmer climates.
The airport expected record-breaking passenger counts Dec. 19 through Jan. 5, with more than 100,000 flying in and out.
The busiest single travel days were forecast to be Dec. 22, today and Jan. 5, with more than 6,200 passengers per day.
With such volume, it's like organized chaos.
But the airport runs like a well-oiled machine, with everyone from passengers, parking attendants and baggage handlers to check-in agents, flight attendants and pilots working toward the same goal - smooth, on-time flights.
The airport's 2,600 parking stalls were expected to be full over the holidays, so it was recommended that flyers use anything but their own vehicle to get to the airport.
Suggestions included getting dropped off by a relative, friend or neighbour, taxi, limousine, shuttle or even public bus.
It was also stressed that travellers arrive at the airport 90 minutes before a domestic flight and two hours prior to a flight to the U.S. or Mexico for check-in, baggage drop, security clearance and boarding.
Each day, there are about 60 flights landing and taking off from Kelowna's airport.
There are 18 non-stop destinations: Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse, Seattle, Abbotsford, Prince George, Cranbrook, Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Cancun.
This year is expected to be Kelowna International Airport's busiest ever, with about 1.5 million passengers.

You must be registered and logged in to be able to comment!

Share Story