Security screening times showed less than five minutes at the Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg Tuesday morning, but for passengers with connecting flights at larger airports, experts say that’s where many travellers are experiencing headaches.
The Winnipeg Airports Authority says they’re not seeing anything out of ordinary, but experts say, it’s the larger airports where holdups are occurring.
“The surge in travel is huge, so the airports are really busy,” says Lesley Keyter, founder of The Travel Lady.
Keyter says part of the issue is due to staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people left the airline industry, I know they’re short of pilots and flight attendants and of course at the airports as well, their screen officers, they’re short of screening staff, the whole thing compounded with the big rush to get back to travel.”
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority told Global News they currently have nearly 1,000 fewer security screening officers than they did at the beginning of the pandemic. They say they’re working to increase that number by next spring.
Air Canada told Global News they have 32,000 employees, which is close to their 2019 staffing level. Their flight schedule is operating at roughly 80 per cent of their 2019 summer schedule.
Keyter believes airports could get more hectic now that vaccine mandates have lifted for travel in Canada.
She suggests using a carry-on instead of a checked bag and to arrive early to avoid long lineups.
Air passenger right advocates say they’ve been hearing from nearly 200 people daily in the past month, with issues related to cancelled or delayed flights.
“If you certainly don’t have to, don’t travel right now. The airlines are clearly not ready for you, they are ready to take your money, they are not ready to give you the service you’re paying for,” said Gabor Lukacs, president of Air Passenger Rights.
“Our Facebook group is flooded, we’re at the point where we don’t have the staff to support all the people who are running in to those problems with airlines,” he says.