Delays, flight cancellations and lost luggage: travel agents have been at the forefront of witnessing the chaos in airports around the world for the past few weeks.
“I don’t know if the pandemic was worse than that,” says Chantal Tremblay, owner of the Voyages Nomades agency in Mirabel. At least we had our flights, our suitcases. There, it’s just amazing. »
At Voyages Nomades, the madness began a little over three weeks ago, with the cancellation of an entire group by the British airline EasyJet. Then, a dozen passengers on a flight from Rome to Copenhagen suffered the same fate, says Chantal Tremblay. “And we have no way out, because people want to travel anyway,” she says.
Nearly 11% of flights to Montreal have been canceled in the past seven days, according to data compiled by DataWazo. Not to mention that 44% of all flights were delayed. At Toronto’s Pearson airport, it’s even worse: 12% of flights were canceled and 51% delayed.
Canadian airlines Air Canada and Jazz Aviation also held on to the top of the global rankings on Monday for the percentage of canceled flights, according to FlightAware data. 63% of Air Canada flights were delayed, and 54% of those of Jazz Aviation.
But the chaos is not uniquely Canadian. The director general of Air France presented her “deep and sincere apologies” on Monday after flight disruptions in recent days, attributable in particular to a strike by employees at Roissy airport, where thousands of pieces of luggage are still outstanding. In Scandinavia, the airline SAS announced on Tuesday that it had filed for bankruptcy in the United States as part of an ongoing restructuring, while its main union of pilots begins an indefinite strike. On the UK side, the chief operating officer of the low-cost airline EasyJet submitted his resignation on Monday.
And announcements of flight cancellations for the summer continued to scroll on Tuesday: 657 flights for Brussels Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufhansa, and hundreds more for British Airways.
Just over the past long weekend, 1,400 flights were canceled in the United States, according to the New York Times.
The anxiety about the departure is palpable everywhere.
“Of course it has a great impact on us, recognizes Chantal Barbeau, of Voyages Malavoy, in Montreal. As soon as customers have a connection, or luggage, they are worried. »
Not to mention that the planes are now full, so finding a new flight at the last minute is sometimes a feat, experts point out. And the prices are exorbitant.
“On Friday, we had a return flight from Vancouver to Montreal which was canceled,” said Chantal Barbeau. Yes, [la compagnie aérienne] reimburses us, but she tells us: “Buy another ticket.” And last-minute flights are very expensive! »
Losing a dream trip
You still have to be able to find a new flight. Marie-Ève Simoneau and Marc-André Boissonneault learned this the hard way last Wednesday, the day they were supposed to fly to Thailand with their two sons. A trip planned at the start of the pandemic and postponed since.
After a first delay of the plane supposed to bring them from Montreal to Paris, they realized that they were going to miss their correspondence (Paris-Doha-Bangkok). The couple had chosen this route because many flights serve these airports every day.
The Air Canada employee watched for at least 45 minutes, she searched everything: all possible combinations of flights with layovers. It was full everywhere.
The family emerged from the airport empty-handed, a dream trip worth nearly $20,000 canceled, and luggage lost on top of that.
The desire to leave always at the rendezvous
Despite everything, the customers of the travel agencies are there. “People want to leave, assures Chantal Barbeau. We’re still booking, our phones won’t stop ringing. »
And a good part of them manage to fly away without problem, recalls Robert Bérubé, founder and owner of the agency Les Routes du Monde. “We have whole families who have left, who have just arrived at their destination, in Egypt or Kilimanjaro, he says. And for whom it was good. »
With The Canadian Press and Agence France-Presse
- Number of Canadian passports issued between 1er April 2021 and March 31, 2022
Source: Passport Canada
- Number of Canadian passports issued since 1er April 2022
Source: Passport Canada