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‘Air Canada will ruin my wedding’: Frustrated passengers lash out amid ongoing delays

Click to play video: 'Couple awarded $3000 after taking Air Canada to small claims court'
Couple awarded $3000 after taking Air Canada to small claims court
WATCH: Global's Ross Lord takes a look at one couple who won a $3000 settlement against Air Canada in small claims court...and the implications this ruling could have for many Canadians who have been left feeling frustrated by recent frustrations with last-minute cancellations with air carriers. – Jul 9, 2022

Forty-seven year old Tarick Ali, from Ottawa, has been planning his wedding for more than a year. But now, “Air Canada will ruin my wedding,” he fears.

Ali, along with 200 of his friends and family members, have flown from different parts of the world to Trinidad for the special day.

“I wanted it to be absolutely perfect,” Ali, who flew in to his wedding destination on July 3 via Air Canada, told Global News Thursday.

Read more: ‘Pack your patience’: Experts say travel woes expected to continue for air passengers

But, despite all his meticulous planning, the thing that didn’t make it to the wedding destination with Ali was his luggage — carrying his wedding suits.

“Everything is bought, everything is ready. All I had to do was show up in my outfit,” he said. “But everything is in my luggage and my luggage never arrived.”

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“It’s just absolutely mind-boggling what is happening. It’s going to ruin everything we had planned,” said Ali.

Ali has been calling Air Canada every day since his arrival in Trinidad, multiple times on some days — to try and figure out where his luggage is — hopeful it will arrive in time for his wedding on July 15.

“You will be on the phone for three hours with no response. No one picks up,” Ali said.

Click to play video: 'Airline woes causing frustration to Maritime travelers'
Airline woes causing frustration to Maritime travelers

He filled out a form after getting off the plane in Trinidad — a standard protocol when luggage is lost — and he even travelled back to the airport to check again if his luggage had been found a few days after arriving, with no luck.

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He also checked the status of his luggage online. It says the case with his custom wedding suit is still sitting in Canada.

“I spent thousands of dollars to be able to get here as well as quite a bit of money for a suit that’s actually custom made -– all the cufflinks and the buttons. Everything is perfect for the perfect day,” Ali said. “And, it’s not here. And no, we don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.

Also packed in the luggage, aside from his suit for his reception, was his outfit picked to wear to the Islamic ceremony that was planned to take place in Trinidad before July 15.

“Both are completely missing in action.” said Ali. “No one is taking responsibility for it. They haven’t called us, they haven’t emailed.”

Read more: As airfares surge, here’s how Canadians can find cheaper flights

Another traveller, Marco Rocha, has been planning to travel to Portugal with his spouse and daughter since last November. His Air Canada flight was booked for the middle of July 2022.

However, Rocha recently received a “fishy” email from the airline that said his flight was delayed by 15 minutes because of bad weather — his flight was not due for another two weeks.

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“I find it odd, very odd, that they would know two weeks in advance that bad weather would cause a 15-minute delay,” Rocha told Global News from Montreal.

With airport horror stories circulating, and now a delayed flight, Rocha is hoping his flight doesn’t get cancelled altogether.

“I’m worried about that,” he said. “My first instinct is that they’re trying to cover themselves should more flights be cancelled. I’m worried that my flight, my whole vacation, will be cancelled due to things that are outside of my control.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian airlines, airports top global list of delays'
Canadian airlines, airports top global list of delays

“Aviation is a complex ecosystem made up of many independent players, including airports, customs, catering firms, fuelling companies, security systems and so on,” a spokesperson from Air Canada told Global News in response to the ongoing delays.

“All of these bodies must work well and together for the system to function properly. The on-time performance of individual carriers can be affected by the performance of any one of these partners, so this is why we are working with all our partners to improve the industry’s performance,” they said.

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WestJet, which has also been facing mass delays and cancellations, says: “There remains significant operational challenges specific to, and across the Canadian aviation ecosystem that fall outside of our control, contributing to significant delays.”

“We recognize at times; we are collectively still falling short on delivering the experience our guests expect and for that we apologize. As a result, our number one priority is ensuring our guests arrive safely to their destination, as on-time as the current aviation landscape allows for,” a spokesperson told Global News.

Canadian airlines have failed in carrying out their business goals, according to Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights advocate.

“Canadians should be very concerned,” he told Global News.

“The question Canadians should be asking themselves is why the government is allowing airlines to behave this way,” he said.

On Tuesday, Air Canada and Toronto’s Pearson airport again claimed the top spots for flight delays. Air Canada saw 65 per cent of its flights arrive late, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Under air passenger protection regulations, when an airline cancels a flight or delays a flight for reasons within its control, it must pay passengers lump sum compensation, according to Lukacs.

Although both Air Canada and WestJet say they meet requirements, Lukacs says these provisions are currently being ignored by airlines and remain unenforced by the government.

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The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has issued 77 Cautionary Notices, and 15 Notices of Violation with $97,450 in Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) relating to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, since it came into force in 2019.

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