Calgary

Calgary athlete flew to Europe 2 weeks ago and still doesn't have his luggage

Andrew McLaren, 18, is competing in Junior World Orienteering Championships next week but is worried his bag — and his gear — won't arrive in time.

Andrew McLaren, 18, set to compete in Junior World Orienteering Championships

Andrew McLaren is pictured while orienteering. The sport is popular in Scandinavian countries and involves running through the forest while using a map and compass to find timing stations as quickly as possible. (Clinton Morse/Orienteering USA)

A Calgary teen who is in Europe for the Junior World Orienteering Championships says he's still missing his luggage after it was lost by WestJet roughly two weeks ago. 

Andrew McLaren is worried he won't be able to compete next week if the bag, which contains his orienteering gear, doesn't turn up soon.

"[I'm] just frustrated," said McLaren, 18, a McMaster University student. 

He's hardly the only one. Missing baggage is just the latest challenge facing air travellers as a post-pandemic travel boom, coupled with ongoing staff shortages, leads to flight cancellations and long lineups at the airport. 

For McLaren, it was a long journey even before the missing bag snarled his plans. He first flew from Calgary to Edmonton, then from Edmonton to Toronto and finally from Toronto to Spain.

McLaren saw his luggage being loaded onto the plane leaving Edmonton, but when he arrived in Barcelona on June 21, it wasn't there. He said about 10 other people were also missing their luggage.

McLaren's bag contained his Team Canada uniform and special running shoes with extra grip. He needs both in order to compete in orienteering.

Andrew McLaren, centre back row, is part of Orienteering Canada's national team. (Submitted by Karin Gerritsen)

As of Monday afternoon, WestJet said the bag is on its way. 

In a statement, the airline said it had located McLaren's bag and requested Monday it be sent to his current address. 

"We are hopeful that upon confirmation, Mr. McLaren's bag will arrive in time for his competition," the statement said. 

Passengers entitled to compensation, says advocate

A headshot of a man.
Airline passenger advocate Gabor Lukacs in based in Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

This type of delay isn't just a WestJet problem, according to Gabor Lukacs. 

Lukacs, the founder of Air Passenger Rights Canada, said his organization has been "overwhelmed" in recent weeks with messages from passengers whose baggage has been delayed. Lukacs said it's become a common issue across Canadian airlines and pins the blame on carriers overselling their capacity. 

"What has happened here is no different than a landlord renting out his apartment to five different people at the same time and not telling them it's already rented out," he said. 

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Lukacs reminds people they're entitled to compensation for delayed baggage but must submit a complaint to an airline in writing. 

As for McLaren, he might not be able to spend his way out of this. He is looking for new orienteering shoes but says they're often hard to come by. 

McLaren is hoping to rush order a new pair of shoes and cobble together a uniform, just in case the bag doesn't arrive in time.

For now, he's hopeful the bag will arrive in time and is trying to stay positive.

"Just relax and hope for the best," he said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paula Duhatschek

Reporter/Editor

Paula Duhatschek is a reporter with CBC Calgary who previously worked for CBC News in Kitchener and in London, Ont. You can reach her at paula.duhatschek@cbc.ca.

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