Air Transat delays leave travellers stranded in Montreal for over 40 hours

Three Air Transat flights, destined for England, Spain and Portugal, were delayed by more than 40 hours this weekend, leaving hundreds of travellers trapped in limbo.

Mechanical issues ground 3 Europe-bound flights, costing customers time and money

Air Transat is apologizing after three flights to Europe were delayed by more than 40 hours over the weekend. (CBC)

Behnam Mehrabli was looking forward to his four-day stay in London, England for some time — he reserved his hotel room in advance, paid his Air Transat flight and bought tickets for a rock concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

By late Sunday afternoon, he was no longer sure he would get to see Camel play.

Mehrabli's was meant to be on one of three  Air Transat flights, destined for England, Spain and Portugal, that were delayed, leaving him and hundreds of fellow travellers trapped in limbo over the weekend, unsure as to when they were finally going to get off the ground.

He took a taxi to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport Friday evening, only to find out that his flight, scheduled for around 10 p.m., had been postponed by a day. 

Wanting to be close to the airport for the next flight, he took the airline's offer for hotel room compensation, while his prepaid room in London was left vacant.

Behnam Mehrabli was waiting in line yet again Sunday afternoon after a weekend of Air Transat flight delays from Montreal to London lasted some 43 hours. (Behnam Mehrabli)

Mehrabli was back at the airport Saturday afternoon. The 241 London-bound customers checked in their luggage again and, as they waited, an employee told them the flight had been delayed by four more hours.

That delay actually dragged on for more than 24 more hours.

"Imagine that all of those people had been waiting in the airport since, because of the hotel checkout, from 12 p.m. to about 2 a.m.," said Mehrabli.

"Then again, we had to go back, take our luggage, pass through customs, and check into a hotel."

By Sunday afternoon, he was still waiting around for the late-afternoon flight, but his vacation days — days that he has waited all year for — were disappearing by the minute and his four-day London adventure had been cut in half.

Mehrabli, 34, told CBC that as frustrated as he is, there are others that have it even worse. There were mostly seniors on his flight, many of whom were worried they would miss their scheduled European cruise.

Flights delayed due to mechanical issues 

Along with those delayed en route to London, there were 231 passengers headed to Spain and 238 headed to Portugal. The flights to Portugal and Spain were delayed by roughly 24 hours. 

All three Europe-bound flights were delayed by mechanical issues on three different aircraft, said Air Transat spokesperson Debbie Cabana. Just after noon on Sunday, she told CBC that the issue had been fixed, but the delay had created a domino effect in flight schedules.

"All of our flights for the weekend were impacted because of these mechanical issues," she said. "The mechanical issues are now resolved on the three aircraft."

Cabana said the flight to London is set to finally take off Sunday evening just before 7 p.m.

"We understand the frustration of some passengers, but our priority is to take all measures to ensure the safety of our operations, which has been done."

The customers were given financial compensation and lodging in local hotels, she said. 

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