A B.C. family said they had to shell out $3,000 for a new flight for their family vacation after they didn’t receive all their passports on time.
Athanasia Ventouras said her family has been trying to plan a trip for a while to go to Orlando, Fla., with their niece and nephew.
She said they had let the children’s passports expire during COVID so in February they went in person to apply at the passport office and were told they would receive their passports in the mail by early April or sooner.
They didn’t arrive.
“My husband went. The week we were supposed to leave, he went to Passport Canada,” she said. “We got new passport applications in case they could do an emergency one. He was told we couldn’t get an emergency passport at that time.”
The office then requested the documents be sent to the Service Canada office in Surrey but they could not guarantee that the passports were going to arrive on time.
The week they were supposed to leave, the passports still had not come so Ventouras said they made the decision to change the flight to leave from Seattle as children do not need passports to fly within the United States.
The cost of buying new flights on Delta Airlines was $3,000.
She said Service Canada told her that staff are doing the best they can but it was a busy time. The family also couldn’t claim a flight change refund through travel insurance.
“When there was no responsibility, that was the frustrating part,” she said.
“I think a change in policy, refunds for costs incurred because of the delays. Our passports with emergency requests came back days after we got back from our trip,” Ventouras added.
She said the cost to change their flight is about a month of her salary and although the children had a good time it was money they didn’t want to spend.
“The mental health challenge was the biggest part of it, especially being in a pandemic and managing all those feelings as well,” Ventouras added.
“We did everything we could in a reasonable timeline and we still incurred these huge costs.”
Dozens of people have spent days and nights lining up outside the Service Canada passport office in Surrey recently, desperate to get a passport in time for travelling.
Many families told Global News they are in the same boat as Ventouras’ family as they applied for their passports weeks ago and still haven’t received them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday his government is taking action to clear the backlog of passport applications that is happening across Canada.
“As of about December or January, we started the hiring process for new passport officers,” Trudeau said.
“We hired on 500 new passport office workers because we knew that with the economy starting to open up, with COVID starting to be in the rearview mirror, or at least getting into a manageable phase, more people would want to travel.”