A passenger with an $11,000 ticket to Europe says Air Canada ‘begged’ 25 people to get off the plane because it was too heavy to take off. Then they lost his bag.

July 13 | Posted by mrossol | Business, Education, Interesting

Business Insider, 7/13/22: A passenger with an $11,000 ticket to Europe says Air Canada ‘begged’ 25 people to get off the plane because it was too heavy to take off. Then they lost his bag.

  • An Air Canada passenger flying to Europe had his flights delayed 10 times on Saturday.
  • On one of the flights, 25 passengers had to deboard because it was “too heavy” to take off, he said.
  • The airline also lost his luggage, forcing him to spend over $4,500 on replacement items, he said.

Even a senior manager at a global travel logistics company can’t escape this summer’s airport chaos: The man, who’s based in the Western US, told Insider his 21-hour trip to Europe last weekend was the “worst experience flying” he’s ever had — complete with nearly a dozen flight delays and a lost suitcase.

“I travel a ton for work and I think I’m above average for forgiving airline trouble,” he told Insider.

Flight receipts and email notifications reviewed by Insider show Air Canada delayed the passenger’s flights a total of 10 times during the three-legged journey and lost his baggage along the way.

The passenger, who was traveling to a business conference, told Insider he has not received compensation for the flight and spent more than $4,500 on replacement items and clothes. He spoke on condition of anonymity because his employer — who purchased his ticket — does not allow its staff to talk to the media, but his identity is known to Insider, which also reviewed his travel documents. His final destination is being withheld to protect his identity.

The trouble began in Denver, which reached a record-breaking 100 degrees that day. Extreme heat makes it harder for fully-loaded planes to take off, especially at higher altitudes.

After passengers and their luggage were fully boarded onto the plane, he said crew members “begged” 25 people to switch their flights at the last minute because the aircraft was too heavy to take off, even with all the carry-on luggage removed.

The flight’s crew members were “super nice,” but worked for a third-party service, with one saying she was “quitting after today,” the passenger told Insider. Eventually, a large group traveling on vacation together volunteered to switch their flights without any compensation, he said.

Flight notifications viewed by Insider show the flight from Denver landed in Montréal, Canada, at around 10 p.m., where the passenger said there was no ground crew to taxi the plane to the gate. This caused passengers to wait an additional “two hours sitting on the tarmac,” he told Insider.

At the gate, the passenger said he was told there were no more flights to his final destination, meaning he would have to spend the night at a hotel in Canada.

Airline staff informed him he would not be compensated for the flight or hotel “because it was a weather-related issue in Denver that caused the delay,” despite the two hours the plane spent on the tarmac, he told Insider.

Fortunately, a 10 p.m. flight to Europe had also been severely delayed due to “pilot-scheduling issues,” he said, allowing him to catch that flight. Once he arrived at his final destination on Sunday morning, he said he was notified that his bag was still in Montréal.

After waiting for approximately an hour and a half for his suitcase to arrive, airport staff told him they were actually unsure of his bag’s location, the passenger told Insider. Two days later, he says he still has no luggage.

About 65% of Air Canada flights were delayed on Friday and Saturday, as Bloomberg reported Monday. On Sunday, 70% were delayed — more than any other airline that day, according to Flight Aware.

When contacted by Insider, Air Canada said it deals with customers “directly,” and that airlines are “currently challenged due to issues with airports and third-party providers of such services as passenger screening, customs, and air navigation.”

“We are working hard with these partners and governments to resolve these issues as they are affecting the performance of airlines,” the spokesperson added.

The passenger’s 21 hours of travel chaos represents nearly every issue plaguing the airline industry today: labor shortages, extreme weather, third-party provider snags, and missing luggage — plus the inescapable technical snafu.

At the most basic level, the industry is facing an imbalance in its supply (of workers) and consumer’s demand (for travel). This post-pandemic mismatch has led to a summer riddled with flight disruptions, resulting in both frustrated passengers and burnt-out airline workers.

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