Passengers traveling on Canadian carrier Air Canada have told insiders their frustration after struggling with lost luggage, delayed flights and a lack of communication in a summer of travel chaos.
The airline industry was thrown into turmoil in the summer of 2022 as travelers return to the skies in droves, while airlines and airports are struggling to hire enough staff to meet demand, a problem compounded by persistently high levels of absenteeism due to COVID-19 is getting worse.
Air Canada, for example, announced last week that it would cancel 154 flights a day over the next two months due to pressure across the airline industry, Bloomberg reported.
In recent days, many Air Canada passengers have complained about issues during their trips with the airline, including lost luggage and difficulty contacting the company about lost bags, which often surfaced in frustrated customer social media posts.
Insider reached out to 10 passengers who have traveled Air Canada in the past few days and spoke to three of them directly about their experiences. All three passengers reported losing baggage and experiencing issues dealing with Air Canada’s customer service.
Lost bags and long phone calls
Aanu Ayoleke flew Air Canada from Lyon, France to LaGuardia Airport on June 29, but missed her connecting flight via Montreal after the first flight was delayed.
She told Insiders she was unable to contact Air Canada after her two checked bags went missing and the airline booked her on a connecting flight to LaGuardia two days later, despite filling out multiple lost baggage forms.
“When I was in Montreal I tried to call the reservations team and no one answered. I called there for about two hours and I never got anyone to speak to me,” Ayoleke said.
“Since I got back I’ve filled out a few forms online. I tried to get in touch with them on twitter and they replied to me on twitter that they would check it out,” she continued, adding, “But I haven’t received a response until now.”
“I’m quite frustrated because unfortunately I thoroughly detoxed all my belongings before leaving Lyon,” said Ayoleke. She added, “Pretty much I feel like all of my life items are in those two bags,” she said.
Ayoleke’s experience was similar to that of fellow client Emily Maitino. Maitino and her partner were flying from Los Angeles to Barcelona via a connecting Air Canada flight on June 29 and found their luggage was missing after waiting two hours at the baggage carousel in Barcelona.
Maitino said she only brought one carry-on bag because she was aware of baggage disruptions at airports, but she had to check the bag after being told there was no space in the cabin.
Maitino told Insider that she called Air Canada seven or eight times in the five days since the luggage went missing and got through once, only to be later separated.
“I’m really frustrated,” she said. “I had my prescription glasses on. I only have one pair of contact lenses that I wore on the flight. So if anything happens to one of them, I won’t be able to see for the rest of the trip.”
Another passenger, who declined to be named, told Insider that he made 20 calls to Air Canada in one day after the airline moved her luggage on a connecting flight from Lisbon, Portugal, to LaGuardia, without reaching an airline representative .
one passenger on social media said in late June that they had spent a total of 10 hours in the airline’s queue trying to reclaim lost items.
Canada’s busiest airport in chaos
But problems with traveling in Canada aren’t unique to Air Canada, as Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s busiest airport, is a source of particular frustration for travelers.
Thousands of unclaimed bags have piled up at the airport in recent days due to staff shortages, mirroring scenes at London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.
For example, one passenger said he waited 16 days for his luggage to be collected after boarding a flight from Calgary to Toronto on an unnamed airline.
Another passenger who flew on Air Transat, Canada’s third-largest airline, said she lost her dog for almost a full day after flying home from the Dominican Republic.
The chaos in Canada’s airline industry has drawn the attention of politicians, with Senator Leo Housakos criticizing the Canadian government for its handling of the problems.
Dominic Cardy, the New Brunswick Province Secretary of Education, criticized Air Canada in a tweet on Saturday after the airline canceled his flight to an educational meeting in Regina.
“I hope Canadians wonder why we pay more for flights than anyone else in the world in exchange for terrible service,” the minister added.
Air Canada did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment outside of normal business hours.