Tag: passengers

What’s behind the recent travel chaos, flight cancellations, lost luggage and dashed vacation getaways?

A worker drives pass an Air Canada aircraft parked at a gate at Vancouver International Airport after operations returned to normal after last week’s snowstorm, in Richmond, B.C., on Dec. 26, 2022.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

This holiday travel season will be remembered for cancelled flights, lost bags and stranded or abandoned passengers, people whose winter getaways were dashed by storms and the responses of the airlines they entrusted with their plans.

Canada’s aviation industry and flyers had hoped the December break would mark a recovery from nearly three years of the pandemic, and the summer of 2022, which featured airport chaos amid staff shortages.

Instead, the turmoil resurfaced with scores of cancelled flights condensed in the busiest travel days of the year. Sunwing Airlines’ collapse was the worst, with customers stranded for days in Mexico and other destinations complaining of poor communications from the carrier. WestJet Airlines, Air Canada and others cancelled flights as the storms grounded planes and halted crew transfers.

So why, in a country in which winter happens every year, were airlines and airports unable to operate as usual? And how did the airlines, which make much of their revenue selling tickets to people eager to escape cold weather, find themselves unable to operate?

The problems began with winter storms just before Christmas, in Western Canada and then in parts of Ontario and Quebec. But the safety problems were compounded by the fact that the airlines had few spare resources on which to rely. Their planes were largely full, and almost all were in use, making it hard to rebook passengers. And then there were the thinly stretched workforces, with many workers inexperienced, recent hires. The storms made it harder to move planes and crews where they were needed.

“They had so much demand [and]

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Family waits for compensation for 2 separate air travel headaches

Air travel has not been kind to one Ottawa woman who is struggling to get financial compensation for cancelled flights that happened not once, but twice in the past year.

“I can’t trust the airlines anymore,” said Tala Hamdan.

Hundreds of air passengers were stranded over the holiday season after airlines cancelled or delayed flights, largely due to a major storm that hit much of Canada around Christmas.

These new complaints add to the backlog of people seeking compensation for similar experiences, with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) saying it has 33,000 complaints on its hands as of Jan. 4. 

Hamdan’s first complaint centres around when she and her brother were returning from a trip to Belgium in June 2022. Due to a delay, the two missed their connecting flight between Montreal and Ottawa.

They were told by Air Canada they could catch a flight the next morning but a bus may be faster, which they did six hours later out of pocket.

After trying to contact Air Canada several times, and speaking to a representative over the phone, she says all she has are unanswered emails to the company’s claims department.

“They gave me a discount code, which thank you, but I want my money back, right? Like I was out a flight, and I was out money for the bus tickets,” she said.

Sunwing flight delays

While she thought that was the end of her 2022 air travel ordeals, the holiday storm arrived to add another chapter.

A “nightmare” for her family began on Dec. 26, according to her father Mohammad Hamdan. 

Tala and Mohammad Hamdan pictured in a video interview on Jan. 9, 2023.
‘We were left in the dark. We were left in the cold,’ says Mohammad, left, pictured here with his daughter Tala. (CBC)

After their Sunwing flight home from Mexico was delayed several times, they arrived at

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