Winnipeggers arrive home after delays to find lost luggage
Toronto airport problems cause air traffic snarls across Canada, mass luggage losses
Winnipeggers who tried to escape the cold experienced significant delays at the airport on Tuesday and Wednesday, and now, some are missing their luggage.
Cold weather in Toronto has forced the airport to delay and cancel hundreds of flights, creating a ripple effect being felt at James Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg.
In Winnipeg, travellers who had to connect through other cities arrived home without all of their bags.
Azucena and Jose Sagastizado arrived in the city on Wednesday after 24 hours of travel from El Salvador.
But only two of their four bags arrived with them.
“This is stressful, but we understand the situation because of the weather,” said Azucena.
The pair already contended with a 12 hour delay in their flights and will now have to wait at least 24 more for their belongings.
Air Canada staff told the pair their luggage is stuck in Chicago, and they should receive it within 24 hours.
Officials said the Winnipeg airport isn’t experiencing the same luggage backlogs as Toronto and some U.S. cities like Chicago, but those who are arriving in the city from connecting flights could be affected.
Siblings Samar and Tarek Julaidan were among them. It was supposed to take them 18 hours to get from Saudi Arabia to Winnipeg, but it ended up taking three days.
And when they arrived, one of their bags was missing. They were told it’s somewhere in the sea of luggage at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
“We spent three hours looking for our bags, and in the end, we didn’t find it,” said Tarek. “Then we asked someone, and they told us, ‘You’re going to find it in Winnipeg.’ And then we didn’t.”
Air Canada told them they should be reunited with the bag in about 48 hours.
Both Air Canada and West Jet officials said they are working hard to reunite passengers with their bags.
Waits worst in 4 years, expert says
Ron Pradinuk, a local travel agent, said he thinks it could be at least a week before air travel returns to normal.
“This is pretty bad,” he said. “I’ve seen some pretty bad conditions on weather that have done some great delays. You need to go back to that volcanic ash [to see these types of delays]. That was a long time ago.”
Pradinuk said the last time air travel was this badly disrupted was when a volcano blew in Iceland almost four years ago.
But, he said, not all flights are being affected by the cold weather.
“We’re not running into big, big problems on north-south flights on charter craft,” said Pradinuk. “There’s a difference between a scheduled airline that goes east-west most of the time and a charter craft that fundamentally goes back and forth.”
Flights that go directly south to charter destinations are least affected, according to Pradinuk, but others who have planned east-west connecting flights may miss their trips.
Winnipeg Airports Authority spokeswoman Felicia Wiltshire said things are almost back to normal.
“There’s some minor delays today, but it’s not to the magnitude that we’ve seen and especially not what we were seeing yesterday,” she said. “You can never be too confident because the weather changes so quickly here.”
A handful of flights were cancelled on Tuesday morning, and others were delayed.