• Air Canada passengers told Insider of luggage and customer service woes amid travel chaos.
  • One passenger told Insider she took a carry-on to avoid luggage chaos, only to be forced to check her bag and have it go missing.
  • Airlines worldwide are struggling amid staff shortages and surging demand for travel.

Passengers travelling with Canada's flag-carrier airline, Air Canada, have told Insider of their frustration after dealing with lost luggage, delayed flights, and what they say is a lack of communication amid a summer of travel chaos.

The aviation industry has been plunged into turmoil in summer 2022 as travellers return to the skies in droves while airlines and airports struggle to hire enough staff to match demand, an issue exacerbated by continued large numbers of COVID absences.

Air Canada, for instance, announced last week that it was cutting 154 flights per day over the next two months due to pressure across the airline industry, Bloomberg reported.

In recent days, many Air Canada passengers have complained of issues during their trips with the airline, with lost luggage and difficulty in contacting the company about lost bags featuring frequently in frustrated social media posts from customers.

Insider reached out to 10 passengers who have travelled with Air Canada in recent days, speaking directly to three about their experiences. All three passengers had lost bags and experienced issues in dealing with Air Canada's customer services.

Lost bags and long phone calls

Aanu Ayoleke flew from Lyon, France to LaGuardia Airport on June 29 with Air Canada, but missed her connecting flight through Montreal after the first flight was delayed.

She told Insider that she could not get in touch with Air Canada after her two checked bags went missing and the airline booked her onto a connecting flight to LaGuardia two days later, despite filling out multiple lost baggage forms.

"When I was in Montreal, I tried to call the reservations team and nobody would pick up. I called for about two hours there and I never got anybody to speak to me," Ayoleke told Insider. 

"Since I've gotten back, I filled out a couple of forms online, I've tried to get in touch with them on Twitter and they responded to me on Twitter saying they would check ... but until now I've gotten no response."

"I am quite frustrated because unfortunately for me, I did a massive detox of all my belongings before leaving Lyon ... Pretty much I feel as if all my life belongings are in those two bags," she said.

Ayoleke's experience was similar to that of fellow customer Emily Maitino. Maitino and her partner flew from LA to Barcelona via a connecting flight with Air Canada on June 29, and realised their baggage was missing after waiting at the luggage carousel in Barcelona for two hours. 

Maitino said she only brought a carry on because she was aware of disruptions with baggage at airports, but was made to check the bag after being told there was no more space in the cabin.

Maitino told Insider that she has called Air Canada seven or eight times in the five days since the baggage went missing and only got through once, only to be later disconnected. 

"I'm feeling really frustrated," she told Insider. "I had my prescription eye glasses. I only have one pair of contact lenses that I was wearing on the flight, so if anything happens to one of those, I won't be able to see for the rest of the trip." 

Another passenger, who asked not be named, told Insider that they made 20 calls to Air Canada in one day after the airline misplaced their luggage on a connecting flight from Lisbon, Portugal to LaGuardia, without getting through to an airline representative. 

One passenger on social media said at the end of June that they had spent a total of ten hours on hold with the airline trying to reclaim lost items.

Canada's biggest airport in chaos

Foto: Josef Hanus/Shutterstock

Issues with travel in Canada are not limited to Air Canada, however, with Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada's largest airport, a source of particular frustration for travellers.

Thousands of unclaimed bags have piled up at the airport in recent days amid staff shortages, mirroring scenes at London Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport. 

One passenger, for example, said that he had been waiting 16 days to retrieve his luggage after taking a flight on an unnamed airline from Calgary to Toronto.

Another passenger who flew with Air Transat, Canada's third largest airline, said she lost her dog for almost a full day after flying home from the Dominican Republic.

Chaos in the Canadian aviation industry has drawn the attention of politicians, with Senator Leo Housakos criticizing the Canadian government for its handling the issues.

Dominic Cardy, the education minister for the province of New Brunswick blasted Air Canada in a tweet on Saturday after the airline canceled his flight to an education meeting in Regina. 

"I hope Canadians start asking why we pay more for flights than anyone in the world, in exchange for terrible service," the minister added.

Air Canada did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment outside normal business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider