After years apart, Elizabeth Taliana says she booked a flight for her daughter to fly from Toronto to Vancouver.
Your daughter only gets a week’s vacation from work in the summer.
Although she made the reservation more than two months ago, Taliana says she only recently learned that her daughter’s flight was canceled, a trend Canadians are all too familiar with.
“I haven’t seen my daughter in almost six years, so this is very disturbing,” Taliana told CTVNews.ca in an email.
Her story is similar to many shared with CTVNews.ca over the past few days, as canceled flights, delays and lost luggage are disrupting Canadians’ summer travel plans, in part due to staffing shortages at Canadian airports.
Some report sleeping due to airport cancellations and delays. One person who flew to Vancouver Island from Newfoundland said it took two canceled flights and an extra day to get home, while his luggage – filled with 70 frozen lobsters – took two days to arrive.
Responses were emailed to CTVNews.ca and have not all been independently verified.
Samantha Van Noy says she lost three bags that hadn’t arrived in more than eight days at the time she wrote to CTVNews.ca.
Van Noy flies to Chicago for a trade show and says her booth materials were in her luggage and the amount of money lost due to her airline’s incompetence was “unpredictable”.
“I say to everyone, don’t fly unless you absolutely have to now,” she said.
Kimberly Horton, a Canadian living in Austin, Texas, said she bought three tickets in February for herself, her husband and son to fly to Toronto to visit family she has since died due to COVID-19 hasn’t seen for three years.
“What was supposed to be a happy celebration turned into heartbreak and disappointment,” Horton said.
She says the airline put her husband on standby because the flight was overbooked.
After calling customer service twice and being on hold for an hour and 40 minutes, she said she was told nothing could be done.
“My husband was denied boarding and my son cried when we left,” she said.
After being asked to check her carry-on due to lack of space in the overhead bins, Horton says her bag never showed up.
“There were all my valuables, medication, contact lenses, my son’s braces, my Invisalign device, etc. things that you need and that you can’t replace on vacation,” she said.
Three days later she got her bag. Meanwhile, her husband was able to board another plane only to have it evacuated due to a fuel spill.
“That was the ultimate breaking point for my husband. He was exhausted from everything and asked for his luggage. They brought back his bags, which stank of kerosene, and he went home and canceled his vacation with us,” Horton said.
“PEARSON AIRPORT NOW BRINGING THE WORST OUT OF PEOPLE”
Oksana Klausmann had booked a trip from Toronto to New York City for late June and says she and her daughter went through customs after a lengthy check-in process, only to find that despite their boarding passes, they were not on the flight ticket stood.
From there, she says, they were taken to a small room filled with other families, children, and the elderly, among others.
She described the room as not having enough seating for everyone, some being forced to sit on the floor, and a small washroom with no soap, toilet paper or paper towels. Klausmann says there were no cups for the water well.
A few hours later they received an email that their flight was cancelled. An agent then arrived with two police officers who confirmed the situation.
“What happened next was never meant to happen to my daughter and I. Rioting, angry people, screaming, yelling, urging and more,” she said. “It was unsafe, scary, violent and hostile. I took my daughter and we tried to leave the room with more than 200 or 300 angry people.”
Having already booked a hotel and shows in New York, Klausmann says canceling the trip is not an option.
They found a flight on another airline that cost almost as much as the entire trip. They went through another lengthy check-in process but eventually made it to New York.
Back in Toronto Pearson, after a long delay on the return flight, Klausmann says that due to customs congestion, only 15 passengers were allowed off the plane at a time.
“Believe me, people weren’t happy about it and some of them started to force themselves from the back to the front to get off the plane,” Klausmann said.
The frustrations only increased when people started waiting for their luggage.
“Pearson Airport is bringing out the worst in people now, not everyone can stay calm in these circumstances and they are putting other people at great risk,” she said.
“We, two Canadians, a daughter and a mother, going on a trip to have fun and enjoy time together should never have such an experience for different purposes.”
People sleep on a bench while waiting at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport 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 scheduled to fly direct from Toronto to Athens in late June.
Anticipating a busy scene in Pearson, she says she and her daughters arrived more than five hours before their flight departure time but were put on standby and told to wait at the gate for their seat assignment.
Veltkamp says the flight was further delayed because the plane’s meals were delayed.
She later said she was “devastated” to learn they wouldn’t get on the plane because they booked their flights through a third party and were “basically at the bottom of the list to get out of standby.” mode to come out”.
“They took us to a gate that was supposed to board Venice, but there would be an eight-hour layover in Venice before we would fly to Athens,” she said.
They managed to catch the flight with a layover in Venice. But five days into their trip, Veltkamp says, they still haven’t received their three suitcases.
“We are three people who basically have no clothes and had to buy new things. We hope to receive our luggage soon but feel very down and discouraged from this whole experience,” she said.
CANCELED FLIGHTS AND CALL FOR CHANGES
After his flight from Prince George, BC to Toronto was canceled for July, Harmolk Brar said he had the option to cancel the flight online for a refund.
When he did, he says the airline wanted to fine him $150 plus tax.
“A cancellation fee for flights they’ve already canceled,” he said. “That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.”
Jamie Boulter and her husband were planning to fly from Moncton, NB to Hamilton, Ontario for a few days in July.
She received an email saying her flight had been canceled and that they would receive a follow-up explaining how to get a refund or rebook and possibly fly to Toronto via the airline’s sister company instead which they felt would have caused further problems since booking car hire in Hamilton.
Boulter said her only option was to rebook or cancel with the same airline for July 4, the day she was due to fly back to New Brunswick.
She chose 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 by 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 was cancelled. I also paid for concert tickets for two shows that were non-refundable,” she said.
“The concert was a two-day performance by my favorite band, playing their first album in its entirety on the 20th anniversary of that album in their hometown. This experience would be huge for me. I’m so mad about this experience.”
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 larger airports can spill over into smaller ones.
“It’s one of those things that’s like a tightly tuned eardrum. There’s not a lot of wiggle room in the system,” he told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
“If you have a pilot or crew calling in sick and people are still getting sick, the airline has to make an effort to find a qualified pilot for that plane. And until they reach someone, it’s a matter of switching pilots on different routes to achieve that and less disrupt connections.”
In the end, it’s no fun for the airlines either, who have to bear the cost of couriering lost luggage home.
In response to “lack of customer service,” Air Canada announced last month that it would reduce flights in July and August.
A spokesman for the company said it would reduce its flight schedule by an average of 154 flights per day for those two months, with the hardest-hit routes expected to be to and from Toronto and Montreal.
Before that, Air Canada operated about 1,000 flights per day.
Vanderlubbe said while reasonable, the Air Canada discounts would affect people’s future travel plans, with airfares potentially rising as a result.
“I’m hopeful we’ll see less of that as we go on and by the time we get further into the summer and maybe Labor Day it’s hopefully over,” he said.
With files from CTV News