After years apart, Elizabeth Taliana says she has booked a flight for her daughter to fly from Toronto to Vancouver.
Her daughter is only entitled to a week’s vacation during the summer.
Although she made the reservation more than two months ago, Taliana says she only recently learned that her daughter’s flight had been canceled, a trend Canadians are all too used to.
“I haven’t seen my daughter in almost six years, so it’s very distressing,” Taliana told CTVNews.ca in an email.
Her story is similar to many shared with CTVNews.ca in recent days, as canceled flights, delays and lost luggage upend Canadians’ summer travel plans, in part due to understaffing at Canadian airports. .
Some report sleeping in airports due to cancellations and delays. One person, traveling from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, said it took two canceled flights and an extra day to get home, while her luggage – filled with 70 frozen lobsters – took two days to get home. to arrive.
Responses were emailed to CTVNews.ca and not all have been independently verified.
Samantha Van Noy says she lost three pieces of luggage that, at the time she wrote to CTVNews.ca, hadn’t arrived for more than eight days.
Flying to Chicago for a trade show, Van Noy says his booth equipment was in his luggage and the amount of money lost due to “his airline’s incompetence is incalculable”.
“I tell everyone not to fly unless you absolutely need to right now,” she said.
Kimberly Horton, a Canadian living in Austin, Texas, said she bought three tickets in February for herself, her husband and their son to travel to Toronto to visit family, which she didn’t haven’t seen in three years due to COVID-19.
“What was supposed to be a joyful celebration turned into heartbreak and disappointment,” Horton said.
She says the airline put her husband on hold because the flight was overbooked.
After calling customer service twice and being put on hold for an hour and 40 minutes, she says she was told there was nothing they could do.
“My husband was denied boarding and my son was crying when we left,” she said.
After being asked to check in her carry-on due to a lack of space in the overhead compartment, Horton says her bag never showed up.
“It contained all my valuables, my medication, my contact lenses, my son’s retainers, my Invisalign, etc. Things you need and can’t replace on vacation,” he said. she declared.
She got her bag back three days later. Meanwhile, her husband was able to catch another flight, only to have him evacuated due to a fuel spill.
“That was the last breaking point for my husband. He was exhausted from everything and asked for his luggage to be returned. They returned his bags reeking of jet fuel and he went home canceling his vacation with us,” said Horton.
“PEARSON AIRPORT IS BRINGING THE WORST OF PEOPLE NOW”
Oksana Klausmann had booked a trip from Toronto to New York for the end of June and says that after a long check-in process, she and her daughter went through customs to find they weren’t on the flight manifest, despite their boarding passes.
From there, she said, they were taken to a small room filled with other families, children and elderly people, among others.
She described the room as not having enough seats for everyone, forcing some to sit on the floor, and a small bathroom with no soap, toilet paper or paper towels. Klausmann says there were no cups for the water fountain.
A few hours later, they received an email telling them that their flight was cancelled. An agent then arrived with a pair of police officers confirming the situation.
“What happened next should never happen to my daughter and me. Riots, angry people, shouting, shouting, shoving and so much more,” she said. “It was dangerous, scary, violent and hostile. I took my daughter and we tried to leave the room full of over 200 or 300 angry people.”
Having already booked a hotel and shows in New York, Klausmann says canceling the trip was not an option.
They found a flight with another airline that cost almost as much as the entire trip. They went through another long registration process, but eventually made it to New York.
Once back at Toronto Pearson, after a long delay on their flight home, Klausmann says only 15 passengers were allowed off the plane at a time due to congestion at customs.
“Believe me, people weren’t happy and some of them started to forcefully come from the back of the plane to the front to get off the plane,” Klausmann said.
The frustrations only continued when people started waiting for their luggage.
“Pearson Airport is bringing out the worst in people now, not everyone can stay calm under these circumstances and they are putting other people in great danger,” she said.
“We, two Canadian women, a daughter and a mother, going on a trip to have fun and spend time together, should never have such an experience. We paid for someone’s mistakes and their inability to provide service with our own money that could be used for different purposes.
People sleep on a bench while waiting at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal on June 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
“DEFEATED AND DISCOURAGED”
Lori Veltkamp had planned a three-week trip to Greece with her two daughters. She bought her tickets in January and was due to fly directly from Toronto to Athens at the end of June.
In anticipation of a busy scene at Pearson, she says she and her daughters arrived more than five hours before their departure time, but were put on hold and told to wait for their seat assignments at the door.
Veltkamp said the flight suffered further delays due to the late arrival of meals from the plane.
She later said she was “devastated” to learn they wouldn’t get on the plane because they had booked their flights through a third party and “were basically put on the bottom of the list to get out of the wait”.
“They rushed us to a gate heading towards Venice, but there would be an eight-hour layover in Venice before we flew to Athens,” she said.
They managed to catch the flight with the layover in Venice. But five days into their trip, Veltkamp says they still haven’t received their three suitcases.
“We are three people without clothes and had to buy new things. We hope to receive our luggage soon, but we feel very down and discouraged by this whole experience,” she said.
CANCELED FLIGHTS AND CALLS FOR CHANGE
After his flight from Prince George, British Columbia, to Toronto for July was canceled, Harmolk Brar said he was given the option to cancel the flight online for a refund.
Opting for this, he says the airline wanted to charge him $150 plus tax in penalties.
“A cancellation penalty for flights they have already cancelled,” he said. “It’s the most absurd thing I’ve heard of.”
Jamie Boulter and her husband were planning to fly from Moncton, New Brunswick to Hamilton, Ontario in July for a few days.
She received an email saying their flight had been canceled and they would receive a follow up on how to get a refund or rebook, potentially flying to Toronto via the airline’s sister company instead, which, according to her, would have created more problems since they booked a rental car in Hamilton.
Boulter said her only options were to rebook with the same airline for July 4, the day she was supposed to fly back to New Brunswick, or cancel.
She opted to cancel and was told her refund would be less than half of what she originally paid. Boulter said she tried unsuccessfully to reach someone from the airline via phone, an online contact form and social media.
“I had paid for three nights in a hotel and it was non-refundable when I found out my flight had been cancelled. I also paid for concert tickets for two shows, which were non-refundable “, she said.
“The concert was a two night performance by my favorite band, playing their first album in its entirety on the 20th anniversary of that album, in their hometown. This experience was going to be huge for me. I’m so embittered by this live.”
While Pearson has had some of the worst travel experiences so far this year, Richard Vanderlubbe, director of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies and president of tripcentral.ca, says delays at major airports can impact the little ones.
“It’s one of those things that feels like a well-tuned drumhead. There’s not a lot of slack in the system,” he told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
“If you have a pilot or a crew that gets sick and people get sick again, the airline has to scramble to find a qualified pilot for that plane. And the moment they get their hands on somebody, it’s is a matter of changing drivers on different routes to make this possible and to have less impact on matches.”
Ultimately, he says it’s also not much fun for airlines, which have to bear the cost of delivering lost luggage by courier to people’s homes.
In response to “customer service shortcomings”, Air Canada announced last month that it would reduce flights in July and August.
A spokesperson for the company said it would reduce its schedule by an average of 154 flights per day during those two months, with the most affected routes expected to be to and from Toronto and Montreal.
Previously, Air Canada operated approximately 1,000 flights per day.
Vanderlubbe said while reasonable, Air Canada’s cuts will affect people’s future travel plans as fares may rise.
“Hopefully as this unfolds we’ll see less of that and by the time we get further into the summer and maybe Labor Day, hopefully that’s gone” , did he declare.
With files from CTV News