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Winter Storm | Anger and frustration at Montréal-Trudeau airport

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The recent winter storm has complicated the plans of many travelers, including hundreds who line up for hours at Montreal-Trudeau airport, just to be able to speak to an Air Canada employee on the phone.

It’s hard to miss the crowd gathered in front of the airline’s kiosk when arriving in the departures area. At the end of an endless line of more than a hundred people, including several seated on their suitcases, we observe an unusual scene.

Since the company’s switchboards were all busy, stormed by disgruntled customers, a folding table was added to their side. A dozen white telephones are placed there, through empty bottles and cans left over the course of the day.


PHOTO JOSIE DESMARAIS, THE PRESS

After hours of waiting in line, Air Canada customers whose flights have been postponed or canceled line up for hours, only to be able to speak to an airline representative on the phone.

And the faces are long. For more than five hours now, Manpreet has been waiting for the line. The young woman and her friend, who are desperate to return to Sydney, Nova Scotia, after the cancellation of their morning flight, alternate behind the handset.

“If only we could talk to someone, if there was an exchange of information. There are employees [d’Air Canada] passing by, but all they say is that they don’t know,” she sighs.

Arrived from Quebec at the end of the afternoon on board a flight that left late because of the storm, Willy Ntetu, Joey Gaudreault and their two children obviously missed their transfer to Cancún. The couple, who hoped to be able to taste the Mexican sun in time for Christmas, have now been stuck in the line, with their two children, for four hours.

“At first, we thought we would speak to an Air Canada representative at the end of that line, but we realized that it was just to talk on the phone, deplores Willy Ntetu. I think a lot of people in line don’t even know it’s for talking on the phone, there are no signs. »


PHOTO JOSIE DESMARAIS, THE PRESS

On the arrivals floor, the luggage of travelers who have missed their connections is piling up.

“Use online tools”

By email, Air Canada said on Sunday that it had to “previously” cancel “a certain number” of flights scheduled for today “due to weather conditions, reduced airport capacity and other operational constraints”.

“We continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, and we will adapt to changes in weather conditions throughout the day,” the carrier continued.

Air Canada says it has implemented “comprehensive goodwill policies” for those who no longer wish to travel, so they can cancel their flight online and receive a full refund or voucher.

“Customers must use the online tools in order to obtain their refund or their travel voucher, or to modify their booking. We strongly advise them to go to the airport only if they have a confirmed flight whose status indicates that it is operated.

A system

Of the 477 scheduled flights (departures and arrivals) on this Christmas day at Montreal-Trudeau airport, only 23 were canceled, mainly domestic arrivals.

“With the weather system that has affected the entire Northeastern United States, there will be delays,” explains the Director, Public Relations at Aéroports de Montréal, Anne Marcotte. “All of this is a system, a theft that did not start from [l’aéroport] La Guardia will not be able to arrive in Montreal and therefore will not be able to leave. »

The latter specifies that despite the difficult weather conditions of the last few days, activities have been maintained at the Montreal-Trudeau airport.



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