Travelling during the holiday season often presents unique challenges as the sheer volume of passengers can extend line-ups and unpredictable weather can create untimely delays, even at smaller airports like in Victoria.
The trick is to remember that while you’re encountering obstacles, so too are your fellow travellers, says Rod Hunchak, director of business development and community relations for the Victoria Airport Authority.
“You tend to focus just on where you need to go,” says Hunchak, who estimates Dec. 20 and 21 to be the busiest travel days.
A list of holiday travel tips can be found on the airport’s website including the usual advice to allow extra time for parking, schedule changes and security lines, but some considerations like having your identification and travel documents at the ready or being cognizant of how much you pack, are also helpful.
Hunchak also encourages travellers to take advantage of online check-in: “That saves a ton of time.”
In 2017, the Victoria International Airport was voted one of the top 10 busiest in Canada – it may be small and preferable to travellers but it’s still a hopping busy place.
One thing it doesn’t do, however, is answer customer queries that should be directed to air carriers.
“People tend to phone the airport to check on their flights and the fact is they really should be contacting their specific airline,” Hunchak says.
Our Holiday Music Program begins today in the Arrivals Hall. This year we'll have performances by Mathew Sabo, Stephanie Greaves, Anna Sutherland, Jazzalele, Fifth Street, Bradley Young, Victoria Guitar Society, Brasstastic, Maki, St. Patrick's Elementary School and Cookeilidh. pic.twitter.com/FYrh2TV8AU— Victoria Int Airport (@Fly_YYJ) December 10, 2018
This month the airport will welcome its two-millionth passenger this year after tracking some 1.9 million travellers in 2017. Current projections see that number rising almost 6 per cent.
To accommodate the growth, a new parking lot will be ready just in time for vehicle overflow, a given this time of year. Still, Hunchak equates the volume to Thanksgiving or a typical long weekend.
“We don’t want to build on anyone’s travel anxiety,” he points out. “We actually want to make it as easy and anxious-free as possible.”
And while torrential rains or heavy winds are the kind of severe weather Islanders have come to expect, there is always a chance for some of that white stuff.
“People here are pretty lucky because the weather isn’t as big a consideration,” Hunchak says, when compared to major cities with regular snowfall. “But, we’re fully equipped to handle a major snow event and through the years there has been some.”