Many Canadians are reporting long delays and waiting times at airports across Canada as the travel industry rebounds after two years of pandemic restrictions.
Danielle Barnett says she waited “for hours” at Toronto Pearson International Airport after she recently returned to Canada from her honeymoon in Mexico.
The guardian told CTV News that her plane landed at the airport and the doors opened as usual, but an hour passed and no one got off the plane.
“There were rumors circulating around the plane that we could be there for at least three hours. At that point, I started having a panic attack,” she said Thursday.
The guardian said it was a “horrible experience” after her leave, and approached a flight attendant about getting off the plane early for medical reasons. She said they let her and her husband disembark early.
But as soon as they got off the plane, the guardian said they were met “immediately” by “a very long line that winds all the way down the lobby just to get to the customs escalator.”
While they were able to cross that line for medical reasons, the parents estimate that they waited there at least 90 minutes to get to customs. Once at customs, it was a wait of at least two and a half hours to arrive.
“There were about three people working to deal with this huge line that was going around the entire inside of the building,” Barnett said.
Many airports report extremely long queues at airport security checkpoints and border checks, while passengers say they have to wait for hours – and sometimes miss their flights.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority said last week that employment challenges at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) are contributing to long queues at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
“As air travel recovers, we are observing simultaneous peaks, which can result in passengers inundating more than one security checkpoint at a time, making reallocation of resources to deal with these passenger volumes more difficult,” Katsa said in a statement to CTV. Toronto.
Transport Minister Omar Al-Ghubra said, on Wednesday, that the Canadian Airport Security Agency is increasing the number of its staff, but he indicated that the shortage of workers is not the main cause of delays at airports.
Alghabra said out-of-practice travelers are causing delays at security checkpoints as Canadians return to travel mode after spending most of the past two years on COVID-19.
“They took out the laptops and pulled out the fluids,” he told reporters. “It all adds up to 10 seconds here and 15 seconds there.”
He said that changing flight schedules also resulted in large numbers of flights departing and arriving at the same time, causing major bottlenecks at certain times of the day, as well as last minute bookings.
Parents said there was “little communication” from the flight crew about the reason for the delay at the airport. She added that she left for her honeymoon earlier this month on the day airports started reporting delays, but had no problems flying to Mexico from Pearson Airport.
Parent explained, “The host actually made a comment saying I should have known about this, but I was like, ‘OK, we’ve been on our honeymoon. We haven’t been following the news about Pearson.'”
Waiting time for the “new normal” airport
Martin Firestone, president of Toronto-based travel insurance brokerage TravelSecure, told CTV Your Morning that long wait times at airports will be the “new normal” for those vacationing this summer.
“Travel appears to be back bigger and better than ever,” Firestone said. “Unfortunately, the infrastructure isn’t what it used to be.” “Now people face long queues and risk missing a flight.”
Firestone says getting to the airport early is the best strategy for overcoming long wait times, as well as planning ahead.
“You can’t get there early enough. I know it says two hours domestic, three hours international – I don’t think that’s enough. You just have to be there, sit there, and take your time there, instead of sitting back home and trying to time it because if You missed that flight, that plane won’t wait for you.”
The guardian said she will not travel through Pearson Airport again until staffing issues and long wait times are addressed.
“A family member was supposed to pick us up, but they waited for us for hours that we finally had to tell them [to] I go home and hear that a lot of people were in the same boat.”
Speaking to CTV News Thursday, Ontario Tourism Industry President and CEO Chris Blore said pandemic restrictions at airports are also contributing to the hours-long delays that many travelers have been experiencing in recent weeks.
He said COVID-19 health checks, including random tests, are slowing processing times for inbound travelers to clear customs.
“In the pre-pandemic era, it would take 30 seconds or so for a customer or traveler to get past customs checks. Now it takes up to two minutes and that’s why we’re hearing really horrific tales,” Blore explained.
Bloor says if the federal government gets rid of some of these mandatory health questions and moves random testing off-site, it would help ease the burden on airport staff.
“That’s a mix of problems, but it’s problems that we can deal with working with the federal government and I think we need to do that sooner rather than later because we’ll only be operating in the summer,” she said.
Bloor says the situation in Pearson has become “very, very dangerous” and he fears it could damage its reputation, not just for Toronto, but for the whole of Canada as a travel destination.
“We have to realize that after two years of uncertainty and this difficult time for the travel and tourism sector, we cannot take our place as a leading global tourism destination for granted,” he said.
“Otherwise, some people simply wouldn’t choose to come to Ontario or Canada as a whole.”
File from the Canadian press
keep in touch
Have you had to deal with long queues and waiting times at Canadian airports? Tell us about your experience. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include your name, location, and contact information if you are willing to speak to a journalist with CTV News.
Your comments can be used in the CTVNews.ca story.