Everywhere you look at Montréal–Trudeau International Airport Friday, there are long lines and long faces.
“It’s been a nightmare,” said Alpha Collins, whose flight to Toronto was delayed.
The flight status board is coloured with delays and cancellations, affecting a majority of domestic flights. Many passengers’ first vacations in years are now in limbo.
“Air Canada delayed the flight from Toronto to Montreal and we missed our connection to Cancun,” said traveler Carl Gomez.
Christopher Folck and his girlfriend are also flying with Air Canada, but are currently stranded in Montreal.
“We had a cruise out of Barcelona. We had to be there exactly on time, and they delayed our flight. We missed our cruise, so we are out of so much money,” he told Global News.
Some airlines, including Air Canada, say they don’t have the staff to keep up with demand.
The carrier is reducing service in July and August, cancelling about 154 flights per day. A majority of those routes are flying out of Montreal and Toronto.
In an email to customers, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau says people are flying a rate never seen in the industry.
He said the increase in travel “has created an unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system.”
“They have been selling tickets for flights that they didn’t have the staffing, didn’t have the resources, didn’t have the airport capacity to serve. so now they have to face the music and finally they are doing the right thing,” said Air Passenger Rights president Gabor Lukacs.
At the Trudeau airport departures level, the lack of staff is apparent.
“They told me I should come upstairs to speak to the manager. When I came upstairs there are no managers, it’s a phone booth,” said Collins.
Gomez who was trying to find a way to Cancun was appalled by the lack of assistance.
“There’s not a live human anywhere in sight that can help you and the onus is on the consumer. This is not service at all, this is absolutely horrible,” he said.
With the travel surge, people looking to get away for the long weekend need to pack their patience — and perhaps pack more lightly.
Hundreds of unclaimed checked bags are sitting at the arrivals level. Frustrated passengers say their bags are nowhere to be found, even hours after landing
“I’m super tired and I can’t find my mom’s bag. So I’m very upset to be honest,” said passenger Jennifer Joseph.
The situation is not expected to be resolved anytime soon. In the meantime, experts say arrive at the airport extra early.