Gatineau woman still waiting for luggage to arrive after 22 days
OTTAWA -- A Gatineau woman says her carry-on bag has been missing for more than three weeks after she handed it over to an Air Canada flight attendant.
Sharon Lloyd said on her mid-June business trip to Toronto, she gave her bag to a flight attendant in Ottawa because the overhead bins were full. It has now been 22 days since she last saw it.
“I was given a little ticket with my seat number hand written on it to claim my bag at the end,” says Lloyd, who ended up waiting for hours at the airport for her bag, which did not arrive. “I asked where my bag was and I was told there was no record of me having been on the plane and they told me then that they had no record of my luggage either.”
Lloyd's experience comes as airline frustrations continue to plague travellers with long delays, cancelled flights and lost luggage.
She said she was left having to scramble each night of her five-day work trip to shop for clothes, order and pick-up new prescription medicines and call Air Canada for updates.
“This past week I received an email from a Costa Rica baggage claim that they found luggage that they think is mine and then they told me that they would be sending the luggage to Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City,” says Lloyd. “I then answered and said, 'No, that’s six hours away from me. The closest airport is Ottawa.' and I received another email saying it’s been sent on the Jean Lesage flight yesterday morning. I have no flight number, I have no reference number and the tracker that Air Canada uses doesn’t have my bag on record, so I have no idea where my bag is.”
While Lloyd says Air Canada will cover the cost, she doubts it will happen. She said getting through to the claims department has been met with four hour wait times and hang-ups.
“I understand if your systems are broken but you've got to fix them. There has to be some kind of compassion to the people you’re affecting,” she says. “When you try and call and you get a message saying we can’t even put you on hold, it doesn’t reassure people that you actually care about them.”
Last month Air Canada announced that due to ‘customer service shortfalls’, schedules would be reduced for July and August. On average, about 154 flights each day would be cancelled, mostly to and from Toronto and Montreal. Prior to the reduction, Air Canada serviced about 100 flights per day.
John Gradek, coordinator of international aviation with McGill University, says sky-high post-pandemic travel, along with airlines having to hire and train droves of new staff means the months ahead will be turbulent.
“It’s like one big massive snowstorm/thunderstorm that has been going on continuously for six or seven weeks,” says Gradek. “It’s going to take time to train everybody. This is a very dangerous working environment at the airport safety, security … and I think that right now you are seeing a lot of people in the jobs who are not very experienced.
"They've really got to get their sea legs under them in order to become productive and efficient, and that’s going to take a bit of time.”
Gradek expects by mid-September, when summer travel slows and school resumes, airlines will be able to regain control of the situation.
For Lloyd, the past three weeks has given her time to reflect. For her future business travels to Toronto, she's taking the train.
And for future air travel trips, she's going to change the way she packs.
"I'll make sure I spread everyone’s clothes amongst the four luggages that we’re bringing, and I’ll try to bring as much in carry-on as I can.”