What makes an hours-long airport delay worse? The only restaurant is closed

·2 min read
Until the Tim Hortons at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport reopens, the airport only has one restaurant available for travellers. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC - image credit)
Until the Tim Hortons at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport reopens, the airport only has one restaurant available for travellers. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC - image credit)

Mike Wazny was about to try ordering a pizza.

If the only restaurant at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport hadn't eventually opened, he and his girlfriend would have waited at least nine hours without any food.

Wazny and his girlfriend were en route to Winnipeg after a trip out east when their flight was delayed in Moncton.

"People were starting to get kind of worried that they couldn't get even anything for a bite to eat," he said.

Many travelling in Canada right now are grappling with delayed flights, cancellations, long lines, and missing luggage.

But lack of airport staff is causing one more problem in Moncton: limited food options.

The Moncton airport hasn't been able to reopen its Tim Hortons location since the pandemic due to lack of staff. Airport president Courtney Burns said the food service is actively recruiting staff and hopes to reopen in July, though that date isn't firm.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC
Alexandre Silberman/CBC

'A couple of chocolate bars for the whole airport'

The airport's only other restaurant, Bistro Altitude, opened late on Tuesday due to staffing issues. When it did open a little before 2 pm, Wazny said two elderly gentlemen were running the food service and offered a limited menu.

"I'll be honest with you, I have to give kudos to those two gentlemen, they handled it very well and they did a good job."

For a while, though, Wazny didn't know if the restaurant would open.

He said as a few Air Canada flights kept getting delayed, including his, hundreds of people started looking around for food options and ended up lining up for a single vending machine, nearly emptying it out.

"There [wasn't] much left, other than maybe a couple of chocolate bars for the whole airport," he said.

Limited options

The Moncton airport isn't close to any food options, Wazny said, so he didn't want to leave.

In the future, he said he'll remember this travel experience and adjust his plans, maybe pack some more food so he has healthier options.

"It's just been a little disheartening," Wazny said of his experience. Due to flight delays he and his girlfriend  missed their connecting flight in Montreal and will have to spend the night in the city, losing one of their vacation days.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC
Alexandre Silberman/CBC

Burns said coming back from COVID-19, the Moncton airport is struggling to attract staff.

Next week, though, she said the airport plans to soft launch a pre-security food and beverage service that offers things like coffee, smoothies and foods passengers can just grab and go.

"We're trying desperately to solve the food and beverage issue at the airport," she said.

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