Mother spends ‘horrible’ night on Toronto Pearson bungalow with young children and baby amid Air Canada delays

A mother of three talks about persistent travel delays after spending a night on the Toronto Pearson airport grounds with her toddlers and six-month-old baby over a weekend of travel that she says cost her more than $1,000 in unexpected expenses.

Jennifer McDougall of Whitehorse, YTV left on June 25 with her two children, ages 15 and 7, and her six-month-old. They planned to fly to Sydney, NS with Air Canada to visit relatives, and stop in Vancouver and Toronto on the way.

“I’m on maternity leave now,” McDougall told CTV News Toronto Tuesday. “So, I thought I’d take them home for a few weeks and have a nice summer away.”

However, the journey proved more complex than McDougall expected. The delayed first flight from Whitehorse to Vancouver created a domino effect on missed flights, as they arrived in Vancouver too late to catch their connecting flight to Toronto.

After a five-hour delay in Vancouver, they were put on a different flight to Toronto, landing at Pearson Airport around 10:30 p.m. that evening.

Macdougall says she then went to the Air Canada customer service desk for information on how to get to Sydney, where to get meals and hotel vouchers promised during delays.

“I just wanted to get to a hotel and put my kids to bed all night,” she said.

However, she claims that the Air Canada customer service desk was unhelpful, saying she was told she would not be able to travel until the next day, but at the same time she was denied meal and hotel vouchers.

“They kept telling me they had no rooms left,” she said. So I said, “Should I sleep on the floor with a six-month-old?” And the [the representative] He said, “Yes, that’s what you have to do.”

McDougall said she promised a connecting flight that would leave at 7:30 the next morning.

So, she spent the night on the airport grounds with her two children and her baby boy, an experience she described as “horrific”.

“I didn’t want to leave [my kids] “I wasn’t monitored until I could get some sleep, so I had to sit up and stay up all night,” she said.

She also says her children are “shocked” by the experience.

This is the first flight [my seven-year-old] In fact he remembers post-COVID and is quite devastating,” McDougall explained. “He doesn’t know that this isn’t normal.”

When I arrived at 7 a.m., Air Canada canceled the flight, telling Macdougall her family would be on board.

“I’ve never been treated this way in my whole life,” McDougall said. “My children were crying.”

At the time of publication, Macdougalls had not arrived in Sydney. They ended up agreeing to fly to Halifax instead of Sydney in the hope of getting to Nova Scotia sooner.

Once in Montreal, they were subjected to another cancellation and forced to spend an unexpected extra night — this time, in a pay-out-of-pocket hotel — before boarding another connecting flight that took it to Halifax, says N.S. Macdougall. Air Canada also did not offer accommodations for the second night.

Now, McDougall is still in Halifax, waiting for her family’s belongings, which were lost amid delays, cancellations and rebooking of flights. Tomorrow her relatives are due to come to pick her and her children up from Halifax and take them to Sydney. She says she doesn’t know how they will get their lost luggage.

“We probably owed $1,000 from the entire weekend,” she said, noting that at the time of publication, Air Canada had not reimbursed her for any costs.

“It was just bad experience after bad experience and no one cared,” she said.

When reached for comment, Air Canada said it was looking into the Macdougall case and that it would “deal with the customer directly.”

“With travel resuming after the pandemic, there have been more cases of bag delays, this and other challenges the industry is facing around the world are well understood and well publicized,” said a statement sent to CTV News Toronto. .

“One of the reasons for that is that there are simply more people traveling and more bags. Just us, often transporting 120,000 or more people per day, versus 23,000 a year ago.”

The airline also highlighted that the pandemic has changed the “global operating environment”, resulting in “security and customs lines, aircraft stranded at gates unable to unload passengers at airports, and restrictions on the number of flights by air traffic control forcing airlines to on it. Make last-minute cancellations.”

Meanwhile, McDougall says she wants to share her story so other families don’t have to experience what they’ve been through.

“I only want my story to be heard for one reason – because I would hate to see another mother have to go through this.”

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