Travellers facing ‘chaotic’ delays as Pearson airport navigates long lines, staffing issues

Travelers at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport are being asked to prepare with a lot of patience on Monday as a longer-than-expected lineup and Canada-wide staffing shortages caused delays.

“This is ridiculous – this is really not well organised,” said Adam Brazier, who is traveling home with his family with PEI.

“A lot of people are going the wrong way right now because no one is telling us which way to go.”

Matthew Green, Hamilton Center NDP MPP, arrived at Pearson Airport about 90 minutes before his 8:10 am domestic flight to Ottawa. He said he arrived to find about 500 people queuing at the airport outside the gate, what he described as “a disorganized, chaotic conga stream.”

What became immediately apparent, Green said, was that the airport was “completely understaffed, unprepared, and unable to handle the congestion that was happening there.”

Green missed his first flight, having to wait two hours before boarding another.

The airport sent out a notice on Twitter on Monday morning, advising travelers to give themselves more time and check the status of their flights before departing for the terminal.

“We would like to remind passengers that staff in the terminal are doing their best to get them on the road,” the airport said in a statement.

Shortage of personnel, health checks cause delays

Some Canadian airports have caused long queues for travelers because of a lack of security checks.

Vancouver had to wait a long timewith passengers who said they had also missed domestic flights due to security check delays.

In an email to CBC News, the Canadian Air Transport Security Administration (CATSA) said it was doing its best to resolve the issue – but could not find enough workers.

CATSA, the federal corporation responsible for security checks for all passengers, said once it hires enough staff, it will also take time to train them.

Travelers at Pearson Airport use electronic kiosks to check in for their flights on Monday. The airport said Canada-wide staffing shortages and COVID-19-related health checks are causing delays. (Chris Langensaure / CBC)

Pearson also said that the health screening to accommodate the increased number of travelers has doubled processing times.

Green called it “completely unacceptable” that the airport could not anticipate delays as post-pandemic travel soars.

“What I’ve heard from staff is that it’s been the third day, basically, of chaos there,” he said.

“They know this is happening but we have received no communication from Air Canada to arrive sooner.”

Expect a delay in the next few weeks

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Monday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he shared the concerns travelers have faced with delays, as the country continues to see a “strong resurgence” in travel demand.

“I’m a travel buff myself and I’ve seen the lineup grow over the past few weeks,” he said.

“Now we’re learning that once you turn the economy off, when you turn it back on it comes with an imbalance.”

Alghabra said Transport Canada has been working with CATSA, “to ensure that we have the resources to meet this increased travel demand.”

When asked for a schedule on when these issues could be resolved, Alghabra did not confirm.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to solve this immediately,” he said, adding that it would take at least a couple of weeks.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he was working with Transport Canada and CATSA to address the issues causing travel delays and that travelers would start to feel ‘relief. ‘ in the coming days. (Patrick Doyle / Canadian Press)

Anticipating long lines and a large influx of visitors, Manvir Jutla arrived five hours early for a 4pm flight to Vancouver.

“I didn’t miss my flight,” he said with a laugh.

Jen Baba is not completely confident.

“I’m a little nervous, we [have] a lot of luggage,” she said, “Hopefully we won’t be late. ”

Karan Panchal, who is traveling to India, said he is still uncertain about when his flight will even take off.

“My boarding pass has a different time and my flight time shows up,” he said.

“It definitely affects my plans.”

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