Airport delays, lost luggage, & flight cancellations (2022)

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For four days in a row in early July, Toronto Pearson International Airport - the busiest in Canada, with flights to 155 cities around the world - experienced the most delays of any airport globally.

Many airport employees, whether baggage handlers or custodians, left their jobs during the pandemic and have not returned.

"Airports are having a hard time getting people to come back to work," she said.

 

John Webb

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I was at the Toronto Airport several years ago assisting my disabled wheelchair-bound stepson on his flight to Halifax. It was a mess then (45 minute wait to get his wheelchair brought around; our connecting flight was rescheduled 5 times at a different gate each time prompting a parade of passengers and flight crew to each gate). It didn't get any better westbound. We arrived about 10PM, or so, on our flight from Halifax only to be told that all connecting flights for the rest of the evening were canceled. Air Canada said they could not provide any assistance to stranded passengers. However one of the airport higher ups spotted us and on the QT (there were other elderly individuals with heath issues) arranged for a hotel and a connecting flight in First Class the next morning.



We got lucky. I see it's even worse now. I would not have wanted to sit all night in the airport with a disabled person in a wheelchair. I hope the other individuals found sone sort of accommodation.
 

Sauve850

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I don't think I will ever check luggage on an airline again given the chaos that seems to be the new norm. Just another reason to take the train
Certainly lots of problems out there but I have been spared. 5 flights in the last month all went smooth. No TSA issues but I am TSA Precheck and first class most of the time. Ft Lauderdale, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Minnepolis RT. Only one more flight in September hoping to keep the good streak going. I prefer the train but not always possible.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I don't think I will ever check luggage on an airline again given the chaos that seems to be the new norm. Just another reason to take the train.
There is no easy way to replace most of my flights with Amtrak. For many working class Americans it makes little sense to choose Amtrak unless riding the train is going to be most of the vacation in and of itself. I've tried to mix trains with planes but even Amtrak's increasingly padded schedules are so unreliable that including them becomes a huge risk. You need to be in college, retired, and/or have European-sized holidays in order to use Amtrak as part of a longer trip.
 
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There is no easy way to replace most of my flights with Amtrak. For many working class Americans it makes little sense to choose Amtrak unless riding the train is going to be most of the vacation in and of itself. I've tried to mix trains with planes but even Amtrak's increasingly padded schedules are so unreliable that including them becomes a huge risk. You need to be in college, retired, and/or have European-sized holidays in order to use Amtrak as part of a longer trip.
When I was working, I was able to use Amtrak for a few overnight trips. Some of them were even for business purposes. These were entirely eastern trains -- The Capitol to Chicago for a conference, the Silver Meteor/Palmetto to Savannah for a Conference. The Silver Star to Tampa for a conference. In these cases, the trips were only about 17 - 20 hours at most and there were no connections involved. I was also able to take two ski trips out west -- once to Yellowstone using the Empire Builder/Capitol Limited, another to New Mexico and Colorado using the SWC and Zephyr plus Capitol Limited/Cardinal. Those I was able to do within a 2-week vacation window (plus the weekends on each end). On the New Mexico/Colorado trip I even scheduled a layover night in Chicago.

Of course, riding Amtrak up and down the Northeast Corridor for business is a way of life.

That said, I never even though about taking the train to the west coast or Texas for business purposes. By bosses tolerated an overnight ride, but 2 more nights on the road was asking too much. On the other hand, they were perfectly of avoiding air travel on 300 - 500 mile trips, as the total travel time wasn't much different, and the cost was less, as you only had to pay for a car rental rather than an airline ticket and a car rental. I only wish that Amtak had decent service to the Cleveland/Akron area that arrived and departed during normal hours, but the 7 hour drive wasn't that bad.
 
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It has been a few years since I have flown on Air Canada and landed/departed at Pearson International in Toronto. But, those flights were always good and the airport experience as good as it could have been. Times have certainly changed!
 

Northwestern

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Ditto! But I haven't been there since 2019 due to the Pandemic.
I'm glad you had a good experience at Pearson International. Good to know. A Jumping off city for catching the Canadian train west.

I had a very difficult experience at Seattle-Tacoma International airport 1-2 weeks ago. The TSA line was unbelievable. There were 4-5 TSA lines with at least 100 people in each, at any given time. A weave back and forth through the roped-off stanchions, just to get to the guy who looked at your ID. About 20 min in line. There was even a dog there, to nab suspicious passengers. I felt like a mouse in a maze.

When I first flew into SeaTac, my 2 bags didn't come up on the baggage carousel. An airport attendant had to track them down. On the return to the airport, a week later, only one bag came up on the carousel. The missing bag was a small backpack. After an hour, an Alaska attendant found it. Someone threw it in with the very large bags which were too large for the carousel. I think the Portland airport was a lot smoother, as far as boarding and getting off the plane is concerned. I guess I won't complain about some of the problems I've had at Amtrak train stations, after that airport experience.
 
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Joe from PA

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I've had far more delays (late arrivals) by train than flying. But here is a good "delay" story. In Dec. 2019 we were going to Brazil. Plane backs out of gate in Philadelphia, and sits for 10 minutes. Red warning light in cockpit. Plane goes back in, and passengers and luggage are transferred to another plane. We are now 2 hours late for a 2 1/2 hour layover in Miami. Pilot makes up 30 minutes. We can make our connection? Oops, the exit ramp can't line up with the door for a half-hour. After finally getting off we find our Brazil plane is at the other side of the airport, and time has run out. Good news...the plane to Brazil leaves 2 hours late. Phew!
 
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OK, my girlfriend was going home to Uruguay and for some reason she booked a flight on LAN Chile from JFK to Montevideo via Santiago. So I offered to fly up to JFK with her to see her off. We flew up in an Allegheny Commuter puddle jumper with condensation blowing out of the air vents over the seats. Upon arrival at JFK, we were told that the flight had been cancelled because their one plane that served this route had been in an accident. Eventually they gave my girlfriend a room at a hotel near the airport where the desk clerk told us absolutely not to leave the premises if we cared about our safety. Fortunately they gave her a dinner coupon at the hotel restaurant, and I paid my own way. Then at about 3 AM or so, they woke us up, and told her to be ready to go in about 20 minutes. Then she left and I stayed in the room trying to get some sleep, paranoid that the maid would find me there in a room that was supposed to be checked out.

In the end, I woke at a reasonable hour, showered and dressed and took the shuttle back to the terminal. Then I took the shuttle to the Howard Beach (?) subway station (This was before they had the Air Train) and took the JFK Express subway back to Manhattan. I had time to go to a camera store and get a camera I was looking at and then go to Penn Station and take Amtrak back to the BWI Rail Station, where my car was parked. Then I drove home and found a call on my answering machine from LAN Chile informing us that the flight had been cancelled. Apparently, they called after we left for the airport. Considering that she had checked her bags all the way to Montevideo with Allegheny Commuter, you would have thought that the two airlines might have been talking to each other, as she had a through ticket, but apparently they didn't

The real kicker comes when I'm sitting having dinner and the phone rang. It was my girlfriend. She was in Miami waiting for her flight to South America. Apparently they picked her up at 3 AM, and they bussed them to a hotel in Manhattan! They waited there for several hours, and then they bussed them back to the airport, and after a few hours put them on a plane to Miami, where I guess LAN Chile has a little more of a presence. By this time, she had been delayed about 24 hours or so. Soon after that,, I think she finally got on the plane to South America, and the rest of the flight, including the connection in Santiago, was uneventful.
 

railiner

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My June trip, was to join a 12 night Baltic cruise. I usually book my own air to join cruises, but this time, for the first time ever, I decided to let the cruise line do it. They did not give me my flight info until about 3 weeks prior to departure. But about two weeks before that, I received an email from Air Canada, to advise me that my reservation was changed on the return to one day later, account they canceled their flight from Copenhagen to Toronto on the day we disembarked the ship. We were then to connect to Miami. The entire booking was thru Air Canada, but the going portion was on TAP Portuguese Air from Miami to Stockholm connecting in Lisbon.

I immediately called my travel agent, and forwarded this email to her, asking who was going to pay for food and lodging for the night in Copenhagen.
I also asked if I could change the routing to go via Toronto instead of using TAP. She told me she would contact the cruise line air department, to see what they could do. A couple of days later, she told me she spent hours on the phone discussing it with them, but they told her “air arrangements haven’t been made yet, and wouldn’t be until three weeks prior to cruise”, despite my already seeing it direct from the airline.

About three days later, I received another email from Air Canada, telling me about another change in my reservation. I was now booked on Turkish Airline on the night of my disembarkation, from Copenhagen to Miami, connecting in Istanbul!
So Air Canada, though booking me, wouldn’t even be carrying me either way.
This really upset me, and I forwarded the email to my TA, and again she went to bat for me, but the cruise line, (NCL) would not change it, unless I paid considerably more. So I reluctantly accepted the arrangements.

So departure day came, my stepson drove us to the TriRail station in West Palm Beach, and we took the train to the Miami airport. The TAP flight was posted as “On Time”, so we checked our bags thru to Stockholm, and settled in the boarding lounge. Around about the time for boarding, a storm hit the airport, causing the ramp to shut down for about an hour or so. We finally took off, and arrived Lisbon about 90 minutes before our connecting flight to Stockholm. However, we were in the back of the A-350, and lost almost 20 more minutes deplaning down to the ramp via stairs and then waiting for a bus to take us to the gate. When we got to the gate, we noticed people rushing to the passport control. When we got there, we were dismayed to see a long line ahead of us. After watching how the line moved, I calculated that we might have trouble making our connection, and so I asked an airport employee, and she assured me we would make it. When we had about 30 minutes left, I saw on a monitor that our flight was boarding. The rate the line was moving, clearly showed we would not. I asked another employee, and again was told we would make it.
We cleared with only 22 minutes to go, and our gate was at the other end of the airport. There were no airport employee’s there to help us, so we moved as fast as we were able to, finally arriving at the gate 14 minutes before departure, only to be told: “The flight is ‘closed’”. We begged them to let us board, to no avail. We were told to go to the misconnect desk, which was way back, the way we had come.
Once there, we faced a long, slow moving line. While in line, I saw that TAP only had one daily flight to Stockholm…so we were looking at other options. About an hour later it was our turn, and the agent booked us on their afternoon flight to Copenhagen, with a connection on SAS to Stockholm.
The flight boarded on time, but as the bus got to the plane, and the first two passengers ascended the steps, a maintenance worker popped out, and shooed them back aboard the bus, because the crew wasn’t aboard yet.
The bus driver returned us to the terminal. Just as I began sweating about the new connection, I received an email from SAS that our flight from Copenhagen to Stockholm had been cancelled, but we were rebooked onto the next one, leaving an hour later.
At that time, we reboarded the bus, and the crew was waiting for us on the plane, an A-321. The Captain apologized for what had happened, and said that the crew arrived just minutes after we left.
We finished boarding but still sat there, as they were waiting for “Operation’s, to clear a write-up”.
We finally took off and when we landed, as soon as we turned off the runway onto the taxiway, I witnessed something that I have never seen before…passengers began getting out of their seats and grabbed their overhead bags, and made their way up the aisle, while the plane was still taxiing! Just ignoring the orders of the flight attendants…

We only had about 30 minutes to make our new flight, but fortunately, this time it was only two gates away.
We boarded the SAS A-319 and had an uneventful flight to Stockholm.
We went to the carousel and guess what? That’s right… no bags.
We looked for help but a cleaner told us the baggage agent had just “gone to lunch”. He finally appeared and we filled out the lost baggage forms. We suggested that TAP might have sent our bags on the missed flight, and might be holding them, but he assured us they would not leave them on that flight, without us. We decided to check at TAP’s office anyway, but the TAP agent told us it was now SAS’s responsibility to trace.
We departed the baggage claim, and were relieved to see our transfer driver still waiting for us. We arrived to board our ship 8 hours later than scheduled.
Fortunately, the cruise itinerary had us spending the first night, overnight in port…😉

PS Our bags arrived on board at Visby, two days later. NCL did take care of us, as well as compensated us for our experience.
 

Bob Dylan

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I probably have told my favorite Airline Delay story to long time AUers, but anyway-

I was in Puerto Vallarta on a Winter Vacation back in the 1980s, and had a return flight on Mexicana to Dallas.

In those days one reconfirmed your flight with the Airline via telephone 24 hours before, which was done.

Arrived @ the Airport about 2 hours ahead of the flight since one had to turn in your Tourist Card to Mexicos Immigration ( along with a Propina( aka Tip) and then wait in the departure lounge( which included a Duty Free Store full of Liquor,Perfume and other " Souvenirs!"

As the time for Boarding approached a Mexicana Rep came into the Lounge and told us ( there were only about 10 passengers boarding this flight) that the plane was "Delayed" in Mexico City due to Weather, with no word on how long it would be.

We were given a Voucher for Lunch in the Airport Cafe which included Drinks!( we were booked in First Class and in those days one got Food and Drinks on Mexicana).

After a nice Lunch and a couple of Margaritas(😁),we returned to the Lounge and waited, and waited and waited. Finally after about 3 hours, someone went to the Desk and was told that the Flight was Cancelled due to "Mechanial Problems" and that we would be Transported back to Town and put up @ a Hotel for the night and given Pesos for ":Expenses".

In those days International Telephone Calls to/from Mexico were Very Expensive but Mexicana let us use their Phones to call the States to inform whomever we had to of the change in plans.

The first person that called Dallas told us that the Flight from Mexico has just landed , that it came directly from Mexico City without stopping in Puerto Vallarta.

When I asked the Agent @ the Desk why this was she said she had no idea and would call Mexico to find out what was going on!

Eventually the Manager came out and started apologizing for the Situation.He explained that since there was only 10 of us, that the Mexicana Execs in Mexico City didn't think it was worth it to fly the plane to Puerto Vallarta for so few Passengers!🙄

We were then given New tickets for a flight to Dallas the next day( a Direct flight) and allowed to call whomever we needed to notify.

After everyone had made their calls( some were irate!), we were given $100 Worth of Pesos, loaded into a Bus and taken to the Fiesta Americana Hotel ( ¡Mucho Delujo!)on the Beach in town.

We were checked in by the Airline Rep and the Hotel Manager greeted us and explained that we were welcome to order anything in the Hotel Bars and Eating Places on the Airline, and to not forget to tip the Hotel Workers!😄

We were given a very nice Ocean View Suite on the 12th Floor, and had a wonderful evening @ the very Nice, New Hotel!

The next morning we checked out @ 10:00AM as instructed, the Mexicana Rep took us to the waiting Cabs and we headed to the Airport where we were escorted directly to the gate and boarded our plane without going through Immigrstion or Customs!

We took off right on time and had a smooth 2 hour Flight directly to Dallas where we landed in a Late Spring Blue Norther with Temps in the 30s and Sleet!

We were dressed in Shorts,T-Shirts and Sandals, and almost froze to death until we arrived into the heated terminal and took a Shuttle to our Hotel located on the Airport grounds.

I have never heard of or experienced anything like this in my many years of Travel, and doubt that this would happen today post 911 and with the decline in Customer Service!

It was really a great experience, talk about "Going with the Flow!"😉
 
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railiner

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Was this a Viking cruise? We took one 5 years ago. It was GREAT.
It was NCL, also great, even though we lost our 2 day call at St. Petersburg, due to the war.
Overnight in Stockholm, then Visby, Riga, Tallin, Hamina and Kotka, and a sea day in lieu of St. Pete, Helsinki, Klaipeda, Gdynia and Gdansk, Warnemunde for the train to Berlin, Kiel, and Copenhagen.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Maybe it’s wrong for me to say so but I honestly love reading threads like this. My worst travel story can be summed up as “spent a week in MCO one night,” which seems comically insignificant compared to y’all’s disaster stories.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I don’t know much about the LH strike but I felt a little bad for the NH ground staff at NRT. Hours of work in continuous rain with rusty equipment and soaked waybills while I stayed dry enjoying an open bar in a lounge. Made me wonder how I’d feel if they were having a drink while watching me at work. 🤔
 
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A friend just missed this shutdown by one day when he flew from Austin to Frankfort to Copenhagen!( although he had to spend 10 Hours in the Frankfurt Airport.)

I overnighted at the Frankfurt Airport in the 90's, waiting to catch a morning flight out, back to Dallas.
A 10 1/2 hour flight. My longest ever! We got in early to DFW, and there was no gate for our widebody, so we sat parked on the tarmac for 30 minutes. Even in Business class, 10 1/2 hours is at the limit of what I want experience in jet travel. If I ever had to travel to Australia, I would intentionally book through Honolulu verses a non-stop from Dallas or the West Coast.
 

jis

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MODERATOR'S NOTE: The "Longest flight" discussion has been moved to its own thread:


Please continue "longest flight experiences" in that thread and leave this thread for discussing airport delays etc.

Thank you for your understanding cooperation and participation.
 
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