"It was pretty rough ... we all kind of felt like survivors of some sort," said Tracy Hatcher after landing at Pearson International Airport – one of the roughly 200 Air Canada passengers stranded in Manchester, England, before finally arriving in Toronto Sunday afternoon.
Hatcher said the family had been planning their trip for a year: she was here with her husband and their children, visiting his parents.
The airline said it will be offering affected customers a full refund after travellers were delayed for 48 hours.
In an email to CBC News, Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur said the situation "does not meet our own standards and we are sorry we've let our customers down. We will be offering full refunds and additional compensation."
Hatcher described cycles of optimism and frustration, as she and her fellow passengers kept putting their luggage on the plane then having it taken off again. She added they were told little about what was causing the delay. She said they spent 10 hours at the Manchester airport the first day, and 13 hours on the second day.
Mechanical problems blamed for delay
Manchester residents Melanie Best and her husband had booked the flight with plans to attend a wedding celebration in Toronto. In an email to The Canadian Press late Saturday night, a frustrated Best described their long and trying ordeal.
She said they boarded the plane Friday after a two-hour delay, then sat on the tarmac for the next five hours while mechanics tried unsuccessfully to fix a hydraulic pump.
After the flight was finally cancelled, the passengers were put up in a hotel and instructed to return to the airport the following day.
However, after checking in again Saturday morning, Best said repeated delays kept her and the other passengers stuck in the airport lounge until the early evening.
Passengers stressed, angry
"Come 6 p.m., passengers were getting really stressed and angry and all gathering by customer information demanding more information," she said.
According to Best, the passengers were told that the plane had finally been repaired and would be leaving at 8 p.m. But after departure time came and went, the passengers were then informed the flight had once again — this time due to flight crew issues — been cancelled, and rescheduled for Sunday.
"At this point, people were crying and disgusted beyond belief," she said.
Hatcher described a similar scene, saying at one point security officers had to be called in to calm frustrated passengers.
Arthur said the delay was due to "a series of unfortunate mechanical and crew challenges."