A former NHL player stuck at Toronto Pearson Airport due to delays is critiquing the facility, along with Air Canada, in a video uploaded to social media Monday.
Ryan Whitney, former professional hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was attempting to travel from Edmonton, Alta. to Boston, Mass. on Sunday when he encountered a series of delays that would see him stuck at the airport until Monday morning.
“I don’t even really know where to explain,” the former NHL player said in a video uploaded to his Twitter account that has since amassed nearly 800,000 views in four hours.
He says he landed in Toronto around 3 p.m. Sunday and spent three hours in line to get through customs, only to find his connecting flight to Boston had been cancelled.
“At this point now, I go and see that there’s about a 400-person line with about two Air Canada workers,” Whitney said. “There [were] a million cancelled flights and everyone was just panicking.”
After waiting in that line for nearly six hours, hoping for assistance, Whitney said Air Canada closed the counter and told the remaining customers to seek help elsewhere.
So, Whitney said he decided to re-enter the Canadian section of the airport, meaning he had to once again go through customs – this time, Canadian.
“By the time I finally speak to someone from Air Canada, it’s 1 a.m.,” Whitney said. At this point, he says he asked for his luggage back as he was considering driving across the Canada-USA border to Buffalo, and catching a flight to Boston once there. He said Air Canada did not allow him to retrieve his bags.
Instead, he said they booked him on a new flight, scheduled to leave from Toronto at 8 a.m. to Boston.
After arriving nearly four hours early for his re-scheduled flight, Whitney says Air Canada told him they had actually booked him a ticket on a different flight – from Toronto to Montreal, where he would connect to Boston.
The problem? Whitney said he wasn’t informed of that change ahead of time and the flight was scheduled to leave in 50 minutes. As he had just arrived at the airport, expecting to fly in four hours time, he would not clear security in time to make his Montreal flight.
“I started laughing,” he said. “It was either that or cry.”
At the time Whitney uploaded the video, he said his departure had been again delayed. This time, until 10 a.m.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Air Canada told CTV News Toronto that “long processing times at airports and other restrictions have resulted in flight delays and in some instances cancellations and these can have knock-on effects not only for our customers but can also impact our employee resources and operations.”
“These factors, along with an issue with the airport’s baggage system Sunday, are what caused Mr. Whitney’s original flight to be cancelled (he was rebooked and flew today),” they said.
“We regret the inconvenience these issues are causing some customers and we are working hard with our third-party partners to improve the situation as quickly as possible.”
Delays and long waits have been reported at Toronto Pearson since late April, with the airport attributing them to staffing issues.
Last month, the chief operating officer of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), Craig Bradbrook, told CP24 the delays could become “unsustainable” as we move into the summer season, as the authority predicts to see approximately 45,000 international arrivals a day during this time.
“I’m so in shock at this place,” Whitney said in his video. “It is the biggest disgrace known to man.”