Missing baggage adds to chaos at Canadian airports


Sara Formel’s family vacation last week to Scotland for a friend’s wedding was meant to be one of those trips of a lifetime. But instead, she says, it turned into “a trip from hell.”

That’s because the family’s luggage — including wedding attire and a car seat for Formal’s nine-month-old baby — couldn’t be carried on their June 18 Air Canada flight from Toronto to Edinburgh.

The family spent much of their week-long vacation shopping for necessities and trying to get answers from Air Canada.

“It’s been awful,” said Formel, who lives in Conway, Ark. “We’ve been stripped of everything we had, and I don’t know when we’ll get it back.”

Due to an increase in demand and a shortage of staff, some major Canadian airports have recently experienced long queues, flight delays and cancellations.

In addition to this, travelers complain about another major problem: missing luggage, which sometimes does not arrive during their trip.

Sara Formel, her husband Joe and her nine-month-old child had to scramble to buy essentials in Scotland after their luggage failed to arrive. (Submitted by Sara Formel)

“It’s frustrating,” said WestJet passenger Joni Hirtle of Calgary. She found her luggage on Saturday, a week after her nine-day trip to Costa Rica.

Hirtle’s suitcase went missing after he boarded the second leg of his flight from Toronto. Its contents included $400 hiking boots and a wad of cash totaling $750 hidden in a sock.

During a layover in Toronto on the way home, Hirtle inquired at WestJet’s baggage claim counter.

There were “tons of bags sitting there” and at baggage claim in Calgary, she said. “They don’t have enough resources to address these issues.”

When Air Canada passenger Harrison Burton landed in Montreal en route to Moncton on Friday, he was so overwhelmed by piles of unclaimed luggage that he posted a video on Facebook.

“It’s chaos,” he says in the video. “This is crazy. They need to fix this.”

Travelers are seen amidst unclaimed baggage at an airport.
After landing in Montreal, Harrison Burton posted this photo showing piles of unclaimed luggage at the airport. (Submitted by Harrison Burton)

Burton couldn’t find his bags in Montreal and hoped they would show up when he landed in Moncton, where he lives. However, he is still waiting for her.

“This [feels] like the face of capitalism basically saying, “You know what, we don’t really care about people. We just want your money and you will get your bags when you get your bags,” he said in an interview.

What do we do ?

The federal government has hired more border guards and airport security personnel to help ease bottlenecks at airports, although Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has blamed the airlines, the week said. last that they also had to “do their part”.

Air Canada says most passengers arrive at their destination with their bags, but acknowledges that the number of those without has recently increased.

The airline says many of the reasons for baggage delays – such as backlogs at airports – are beyond its control.

“When an aircraft is held up at a gate due to a customs backlog inside the terminal, it may not be loaded in time for its next flight,” spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email. mail.

“Rest assured that avoiding baggage delays is a top priority for us.”

WestJet blamed the missing baggage on a myriad of challenges, including resource constraints, flight delays and cancellations.

The airline is “actively working to resolve” the baggage delays, spokeswoman Madison Kruger said in an email.

Carleton University associate professor of business Ian Lee said all parties involved – airlines, airports and government – are all to blame for the current chaos as they have not properly prepared for the expected increase in travel post-pandemic.

“It just seems to me that it’s been a lot – no pun intended – flying by the seat of their pants instead of a more, shall we say, strategic approach to reopening the airline industry,” he said. he declares.

WATCH | Travelers complain of lost luggage:

Baggage delays added to Canada’s travel woes

Baggage delays compound the problems faced by Canadian air travelers, with some airports seeing piles of bags stacked up and some travelers not retrieving their bags for an entire trip.

Alghabra said Monday bottlenecks at major airports have improved and Ottawa is working with airports and airlines to address baggage delays and other lingering issues.

“We are treating this with the utmost sense of urgency,” he told a news conference.

Meanwhile, Formal and Burton are still waiting for their luggage.

Their only consolation: under the Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulationstravelers with lost, damaged or delayed baggage can file a claim for incurred expenses up to approximately $2,300.