Vancouver Nothing unites people like the holidays. And united Vancouver holiday travellers were this past week - united in their rage against long queues, flight chaos and seemingly uncaring airlines. Air Canada, already known for one of the worst customer-service reputations in Canada, did little to redeem itself as heavy snowfalls gripped Vancouver and much of the rest of the country. Dozens of cancelled flights and queues of hundreds of passengers left many with little to do but vent their anger. Irate travellers became minor celebrities as news crews sought out the most visibly agitated to feature on the nightly news. One hapless soldier, spending his last Christmas at home before being shipped out to Afghanistan, had his route tracked with graphics by one television station as he tried to make it from the Canadian prairies to his family on the east coast, an arduous journey that involved multiple stops. Other passengers gave regular updates to the public via mobile phone, with some travellers stuck in planes for hours as runways were cleared of snow and ice. 'We realise everybody is trying to get home for the holidays,' said Vancouver International Airport vice-president of operations Don Ehrenholz. 'Airport authority staff are working extra long hours to make sure the airport is fully functional.' But departures - and arrivals from elsewhere in North America - were still being plagued by delays of three hours or more on Saturday. Not all of this was Air Canada's fault, of course. In a vast country where the number of airlines is limited, travel glitches will occur. During the busy travel times before and after Christmas, airline staff worked overtime to try to accommodate stranded passengers. But Air Canada passengers were particularly angered by the airline's decision at one stage to cancel all its short- and medium-haul flights - concentrating instead on the longer and presumably more expensive flights. The only competitor for Air Canada, WestJet, scored public relations points at the expense of its bigger, more established rival. WestJet paid passengers twice the amount of their fare if they chose to cancel their flights, thereby freeing up spots for other travellers. Air Canada's only offer was to refrain from charging passengers for the privilege of rescheduling their flights to a later date. It's no consolation to those who missed out on their mum's Christmas turkey, but Air Canada's unpreparedness must be partially excused by the extreme nature of Vancouver's recent weather. 'One day we used as much de-icing fluid cleaning our aircraft as we would normally use in a half a winter,' said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick. In December, 70cm of snow fell on the city, making it the whitest month on record. Compare that with the city's annual average of 55cm. The whiteout forced the cancellation of scores of bus routes, and even the city's dependable metro service stalled. At one point on Friday - the busiest shopping day of the year - about 8,000 passengers were left stranded at the province's biggest mall when the commuter trains stopped running. Drivers fared no better. Cars were abandoned beside main thoroughfares, while snowbound side streets were virtually deserted. All of which gives Vancouver good reason to look forward to the new year - but for the possibility of flash-flooding as all that snow begins to melt.