Missing 3 Flights From Toronto Due To Overbookings - Thanks AirCanada!
Traveling during Christmas to Europe is always a disaster, this year wasn't any different. Due to being a bit late at Pearson Airport I found myself in a situation where I lost my seat on all 3 flights out of the country.
I am writing this Blog after having dealt with my biggest travel disaster yet, just after Christmas. It all started when I got to the Toronto Pearson Airport, Canada and encountered a massive lineup all around the check-in counter, the lineup was at least a 1 hour wait. Unfortunately I was 10 minutes late for my plane. I just was not aware that Air Canada closes the check-in counter 1 hour before takeoff. So I was redirected to a ticket rebooking counter. After hearing that I wasn't able to catch my flight my heart fell through my shoes.
I was stranded and could not go home to see my parents in Amsterdam. I pulled myself together and prayed to obtain another possible way home. After waiting in line at the ticket rebooking counter a nice lady helped my out to get to Europe. She told me all the flights were oversold and full to the teeth my next possibility was to bounce 3 days later. I could not believe what I was hearing, this was literally a disaster so she made me a deal to put me on standby for $200 extra (which brought the total of my ticket to $1400 CAD). With fresh hope I returned back to the check-in counter were the line-up extended all around the check-in booth.
I have never seen such a massive line-up at an airport and I have traveled quite a lot in the past 10 years. It must have been the fact that I was traveling on Christmas day, an mistake I will never make again... After waiting in line I finally got processed but did not get a seat assigned. Standby basically means that you get a seat option in case a legit passenger cancels or doesn't show up. Once I got to the Gate and waited 4 hours for the next flight to Frankfurt (connecting to Amsterdam) I realized that I wasn't the only one with a Standby pass. At least 15 other persons had the same yellow sticker on their ticket. I pushed my way through towards the Gate Counter were there was only 1 girl in front of me. So after boarding (4 hours later) a stewardess came running out of the gate and told the guy handling the standby tickets that there was only 1 seat left. I mean seriously 1 f**king seat and 15 people on standby. Thus the girl first in line was able to obtain it.
Next, the gentleman behind the desk told us to go to the rebooking booth again. Now I finally understood that EVERYTHING at the airport is first come first serve, you have to be a real dick if you want to get things done at airports. So after hearing that I ran like crazy to the rebooking counter. It was sad because there were complete families with children in the same boat as I. At the counter a lady walked up to me and had a good excuse to cut in line but after that instance I realized that this would be the last time that I will let people cut in line at the airport (especially at the airport).
After waiting 30 minutes they rebooked my flight, this time through London, UK and I finally got a seat assigned instead of the stupid standby ticket. I overheard a conversation behind the counter that there were only 9 seats left thus leaving 6 people stranded at Pearson unfortunately, but once again first come first serve. The London flight was going to leave 4 hours later thus totaling my waiting time to 8 hours. Happily I called my sister in Amsterdam to confirm that I was finally coming home but I told her that I also had a bad feeling about all this, it just seemed to good to be true but she told me not to worry. After waiting 8 hours,.... 9 hours I started to wonder; "what could be wrong now?!" People were getting moody and wanted to know what was taking so long.
Lots of people had been waiting the entire day at Pearson. At 2AM a lady announced that the London flight was CANCELED. Are you serious, why wait 5 hours to announce a cancellation, things weren't looking up for me. So figuring first come first serve I rushed to the gate counter were people were yelling, swearing and even crying. I obtained a taxi ticket to and from my house. I was told that the plane was leaving at 9:30AM so I could get at least a few hours of sleep at home. This really sucked because I had to check out of the airport again find my baggage in a sea of chaos downstairs (see video footage) and after able to only sleep 1 hour I returned back to the Airport early to avoid any more set backs.
Back in line at the check-in counter I overheard rumors about the cancellation last night which made me draw the following conclusions:
Rumor 1: Bad weather - It did not snow nor was the weather bad, it was a perfectly clear night.
Rumor 2: Technical Difficulties - I only noticed 1 ground member working on the airplane so if there really was a problem they would have ordered more people to fix it I would think...
Rumor 3: Entire crew called in sick - This rumor seemed a little out of the park but became very believable once people told me only 1 cabin member showed up and was asking were the rest of the crew was. After waiting by himself for a while the individual left the premises. Also due to Christmas the backup crew was probably already taken and nobody was available to fly our asses to the UK. After check-in and obtaining a ticket I prayed that this was gonna go without a flaw. And yes only 17 hours later I was in the air towards the homeland. Next to me in the plane sat a nice girl from the UK who was studying Zoology at the University of Mexico City she told she was waiting at Toronto Pearson Airport for 27 hours so I had nothing to complain about.
Once we got to London and exited the airplane only 1 individual was processing the entire passenger load of the plane. I mean SERIOUSLY Air Canada what were you thinking. She gave us Hotel tickets because no planes were allowed to fly out of Heathrow after 9PM due to noise complains. As the only passenger group we walked through Heathrow, everything was closed, this was definitely a unique experience. Once we grabbed our bags we waited near the exit.
Nobody told us what needed to happen next. So I ran outside and noticed 2 busses which would take us to the hotel. I ran back inside and tried to get everybody to the busses as soon as possible so we could at least get some decent sleep. The bus brought us to the Novotel Hotel where I got a very nice hotel room, unfortunatly not long enough to enjoy it. We also received a letter from Air Canada apologizing for all the problems at Toronto Pearson and a $100 discount on our next flight. UPDATE: A month after the disaster I received another incentive in the amount of $400, once again apologizing for all the inconvenience. Which totals my next travel budget to $500, not bad :)
The following morning I hopped on the bus and caught my plane to Amsterdam without any delays. This was definitely an experience but I would not wish it upon anybody. I was so happy when I went through the gate and noticed my entire family waiting for me. They made a wish come true by bringing 2 buns with fresh raw haring & onions. A typical dutch traditional snack which made me forget about all the annoying incidents that had happened