What makes a several hour delay at the airport worse? The only restaurant is closed

Mike Wazny was about to try to order pizza.

If the only restaurant at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport hadn’t opened, he and his girlfriend would have waited at least nine hours without eating anything.

Wazny and his girlfriend were on their way to Winnipeg from a trip east when their flight was delayed in Moncton.

“People were starting to worry that they couldn’t eat anything for a bite to eat,” he said.

Many travelers to Canada are currently struggling with flight delays, cancellations, long lines and missing luggage.

But the lack of staff at the airport causes another problem in Moncton: limited dining options.

The Moncton airport has been unable to reopen its Tim Hortons restaurant since the pandemic due to a lack of staff. Airport president Courtney Burns said the food service is actively recruiting staff and hopes to reopen in July, although that date is not firm.

Moncton Airport will soft launch a new catering service in June. (Alexander Silberman/CBC)

“A few chocolate bars for the whole airport”

The airport’s only other restaurant, Bistro Altitude, opened late Tuesday due to staffing issues. When it opened a little before 2 p.m., Wazny said two elderly gentlemen ran the restaurant service and offered a limited menu.

“I’ll be honest with you, I have to commend both of these gentlemen, they handled the situation very well and they did a great job.”

For a while, however, Wazny didn’t know if the restaurant was going to open.

He said that as a few Air Canada flights continued to be delayed, including his own, hundreds of people began looking for food options and ended up queuing for a single vending machine, the almost empty.

“The [wasn’t] plenty left, except maybe a few chocolate bars for the whole airport,” he said.

Limited options

The Moncton airport isn’t close to dining options, Wazny said, so he didn’t want to leave.

Going forward, he said he would remember this travel experience and adjust his plans, maybe packing more food for healthier options.

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

Courtney Burns, president and CEO of Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport, said she hopes the Tim Hortons will reopen in July. (Alexander Silberman/CBC)

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

Next week, however, she said the airport plans to soft-launch a pre-security catering service that offers things like coffee, smoothies and food that passengers can simply take away.

“We are desperately trying to solve the food and drink issue at the airport,” she said.

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