Former National Hockey League player Ryan Whitney blasted Toronto Pearson International Airport and Air Canada for the chaotic handling of cancelled flights and delays, which left him stranded at the airport overnight.
The former professional hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins was heading to Boston, Massachusetts, from Edmonton on Sunday when his connecting flight to Toronto was cancelled, leaving him stuck at the airport until Monday morning.
“I do not even really know what to explain,” he said in a video posted on Twitter on June 6.
Whitney said he landed in Toronto at roughly 3 pm on June 5 and after waiting in line for three hours to get through customs, he was told that his connecting flight to Boston had been cancelled.
“At this point now, I go and I see there is a 400-person line with two Air Canada workers,” he said. “There’s a million cancelled flights, everyone’s just panicking.”
After waiting in that line for nearly six hours, Whitney said Air Canada closed the counter when it was near his turn, and remaining customers were told to find assistance elsewhere.
“This is the worst airport on Earth. “I’m telling you there’s no other airport like this,” he said.
Whitney said he then had to re-enter through Canadian customs, and by the time he got through it was already 1 am When he tried to arrange a JetBlue flight to Buffalo, he said Air Canada would not allow him to retrieve his luggage, and he was instead told that another flight had been booked for him in the morning.
But when he arrived nearly four hours early for that flight, Whitney was again told that his trip had been rearranged, and that it would depart in just 15 minutes and that he wouldn’t make it.
He uploaded the video at that point, saying Air Canada made the changes without giving him any warning in advance.
“I started laughing,” Whitney said. “It was either that or cry.”
“I’m so shocked at this place. It’s the biggest disgrace known to man. ”
A spokesperson for Air Canada told CTV News 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. “
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which runs the Pearson International Airport, called on the federal government to help deal with congestion at the airports early last month, citing backlogs at security screening points.
Trade associations representing airlines as well as the travel and tourism industries have also called on Ottawa to remove COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other travel restrictions to relieve the pressure on aviation employees as the number of passengers hikes during the summer season.
On June 6, Canadian Airports Council said in a statement posted on Twitter that Canada should also align with the international community as more than 50 countries worldwide have dropped the vaccine mandates and COVID protocols for travel.
Whitney uploaded another video at roughly 1 pm on June 6, saying that he had finally arrived at his destination.
“It’s over. I want to thank everyone for their Ts and Ps and the amazing chiclets listeners who reached out to help. Best fans on earth. The exact opposite of Pearson International Airport, ”he said.