Long weekend travel expected to be ‘very busy,’ BC Ferries warns of sailing waits

Long weekend travel expected to be 'very busy,' BC Ferries warns of sailing waits

They say there’s no happier place than the arrivals terminal at an airport.

This Thanksgiving weekend at Victoria International Airport, the first holiday for many since vaccinations and travel restrictions lowered, there was a bit more love than usual.

“I haven’t seen her since before COVID so it’s been over a year and a half,” said Marion Goheen, who was waiting at arrivals for daughter Vanessa who lives in Saskatoon.

The airport was filled Friday with families eagerly waiting to reunite with their loved ones. A steady stream of embraces, all filled with relief, after a long time away.

Victoria airport officials tell CHEK News it’s busier this Friday than it has been in a long time and while no flights have been added, the crowds are a welcome sight. According to officials, they’re only expected to grow, saying Monday will be the busiest travel day of the weekend.

Nothing, however, beats the lineups expected at the ferry terminals.

“I was trying to get a reservation but they were actually booked up,” said one woman who just missed getting on the 12 p.m. ferry from Swartz Bay.

BC Ferries is expecting a very busy Thanksgiving weekend. Vehicle reservations on all the major routes leaving the Lower Mainland were completely sold out prior to Friday.

To make matters worse, the Spirit of Vancouver Island, which operates between Victoria and Tsawwassen remains out of service until further notice.

“With the Spirit being out of service, we have brought a coastal class ship to sub-in. It’s a smaller vessel than the Spirit of Vancouver Island, so we do have reduced capacity,” warned BC Ferries spokesperson Astrid Chang.

As a result, BC Ferries is warning of likely sailing waits for those who don’t have a reservation.

Travellers are encouraged to check BC Ferries’ Current Conditions website before leaving to any port without a reservation.

Line-ups were already building early Friday afternoon at Swartz Bay, with some actually relieved to see them.

“We’re getting back to normal civilization,” said one man travelling to Vancouver. Health officials reminded us earlier this week, things still aren’t back to ‘normal’ yet.

“Please keep your groups small this year. Remember what we’re seeing in our communities right now. In particular, if you have older family members or anyone who is immune-compromised who is planning to attend, make sure everyone there is fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry on Tuesday.

Back at Victoria’s airport, Marion is pacing nervously at the arrivals gate, unable to contain her excitement for a hug that’s been a year and a half in the making.

“She’s my best friend so I’ve missed her,” said her daughter Vanessa Crawford through tears as Mom and daughter finally reunite.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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