Air Canada abandons 14-year old at Toronto airport after cancelling her flight

Diomerys O’Leary used to be already worried approximately letting her 14-yr-old daughter fly on my own to visit her dad in the Dominican Republic, however she by no means imagined Air Canada may abandon the woman in Canada’s biggest airport after cancelling the last leg of her trip house.

An e mail on Jan. 18 notified O’Leary that her daughter Eva’s flight from Toronto’s Pearson World Airport to St. John’s was once cancelled because of a labour disruption on the Newfoundland and Labrador airport, and rescheduled for two days later.

Then got here the flood of texts from her panicked daughter, announcing Air Canada instructed her she was on her own to search out a spot to sleep, food and transportation.

O’Leary told her daughter to go back to the Air Canada counter and ask for assist again, however says personnel turned the girl away a 2d time.

“She was once crying and desperate, asking me ‘What do I do?’ … I simply couldn’t consider it,” O’Leary informed Go Public.

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That was the start of a 24-hour ordeal, as O’Leary scrambled from more than 2,000 kilometres away to seek out a place for her daughter to stay, and one thing to consume.

“What did they Air Canada expect for her to do? Sit Down on a bench, and sleep there for days and not even give her food, or anything else?” O’Leary said.

A passengers’ advocate who used to be a part of the government consultations that resulted in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations says the airline’s personal rules permit it to keep away from taking duty.

“This will come as an attractive massive wonder to so much of adults if they do ship their child on a plane … as a result of beneath Air Canada’s own rules, they could be deserted,” said Ian Jack, vp of public affairs on the Canadian Automotive Affiliation.

“You Possibly Can expect that the vendors might have good processes in position for this.” 

Like different airways — WestJet and Air Transat among them — Air Canada gives a for-fee carrier matter to positive conditions, where staff help kids flying on their own. However that service isn’t available for multi-leg journeys like Eva’s.

In those circumstances, the airline mentioned in an electronic mail its apply, “is to provide priority assistance to sure passengers travelling with us, reminiscent of disabled, elderly and teens,” but says, that day, it was dealing with “unexpected and abrupt” flight cancellations and “masses of customers requiring help.” 

O’Leary were given a flood of panicked texts from her daughter, as she scrambled to seek out a safe position for the 14-yr old to sleep. (Ted Dillion/CBC)

‘Worst day of my existence’

O’Leary spent hours on the phone and online seeking to organize help for her daughter, whilst the lady waited by myself on the Toronto airport.

Hotels would not take an underage youngster. She did not have any money for food and her Apple Pay app was once no longer running. 

O’Leary in any case found an Airbnb that will permit Eva to stay the night time, booked an Uber to get her there, and ordered supply so her daughter may consume.

“It was the worst day of my existence,” she mentioned. “Even after I accommodated her, I wasn’t able to sleep that night time.”

the next step used to be getting her daughter house.

After spending nearly hours on hang with Air Canada, O’Leary got Eva a flight into Gander, NL., the following day and then bought a bus price ticket home to St. John’s.

Air Canada abandons 14-year old at Toronto airport after cancelling her flight

After spending a night on her own, Eva arrived house in St. John’s on Jan. 20. O’Leary asked CBC News not to display her daughter’s face. (Submitted by way of Diomerys O’Leary)

Air Canada tells Cross Public the call centre agent “offered to help with accommodations, however the customer’s mother declined.” 

But O’Leary equipped a recording of that conversation and the agent said she could not assist with lodging.

As An Alternative, the call centre agent told O’Leary Eva should check out a unique Air Canada table and, “needs be a little bit assertive,” when asking workforce for lend a hand a third time. By Way Of this time, O’Leary had already booked the Airbnb herself even as on dangle waiting to talk to the agent.

Asked concerning the discrepancy, Air Canada said the agent tried to assist, “by way of instructing the mum on proceed.” 

Air Canada mentioned it is “in most cases no longer a good option” for youngsters to go back and forth by myself on trips with connecting or international flights, “as a result of the likelihood of unforeseen flight disruptions outside the airline’s regulate.” 

That caution is not at the airline’s “Children Travelling Alone” section of its website or discussed in the reserving. 

Air go back and forth can be unpredictable at the best of occasions. And it has been even tougher to have a easy flight during the pandemic, which overdue closing yr saw large disruptions amongst U.S. carriers and an advisory for Canadians towards non-essential global go back and forth. 

WATCH | Airline strands 14-12 months-old woman at Pearson:

Air Canada abandons 14-year old at Toronto airport after cancelling her flight

Air Canada left teenager to fend for herself after cancelled flight | Pass Public

7 hours ago

Duration 2:21

A St. John’s mom desires Air Canada to switch its policies after her 14-year-old daughter was once left to fend for herself in Toronto after her flight home was cancelled. 2:21

Air trip has been onerous through the pandemic, with advisories coming and going for Canadians in opposition to non-crucial global shuttle and disruptions around the board for providers.

Nonetheless, O’Leary says she has no regrets.  

“i attempted the primary useful resource, which used to be the airline. after they did not do anything I simply did the whole thing in my energy to maintain my daughter safe.”

She wants to see Air Canada take extra accountability or forestall accepting minors travelling by myself on multi-leg flights. 

“they’re glad to take my money but not take accountability for her protection,” she stated

Extra kids left stranded

Air Canada’s regulations, associated with at the backside of its house page state on page FORTY NINE of the 122-page document for international go back and forth that the airline, “is not going to suppose any monetary or guardianship tasks for unaccompanied minors past those acceptable to an adult passenger.”

WestJet and Air Transat have the similar rule. 

Adult passengers get not anything if the flight is disrupted for reasons beyond a vendors’ regulate, just like the labour disruption in St. John’s.

That Is a change in policy. Years in the past, Air Canada’s site stated — even without the “unaccompanied minor” service — that youths between 12 and 17 can be “taken care of through our marketers. we will be able to also organize for accommodations, meals and transportation if needed.” 

The airline removed that policy sometime after January 2013. It didn’t say why or when it made that adjust.

Even the reasonably new Air Passenger Protection Regulations, which kicked in in 2019, fall quick whilst it comes to protective young travelers via failing to obviously state an airline’s duties, says Jack.

Air Canada abandons 14-year old at Toronto airport after cancelling her flight

Ian Jack, vice-president of public affairs with the CAA, says the location highlights gray spaces in airline laws. (Stephane Richer/CBC)

The laws say “airways must determine a software for the transportation of unaccompanied minors,” however leave it to the providers to make a decision what the ones techniques come with. 

Transport Canada makes the principles and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) enforces them. Go Public requested each if they plan to supply more protection for children travelling on my own.

Delivery Canada said the CTA is “in a better position to respond.”

The CTA mentioned it may possibly simplest do what Transport Canada’s regulations permit, and they don’t include anything about the airways’ explicit responsibilities to minors travelling alone.

Given the lack of extra particular regulation, Jack says at the very least airways want to be more clear that underage kids may well be left to fend for themselves whilst flights are cancelled.

after all, it’s came about sooner than. 

In 2016, Air Canada was once instructed to change its policies after a 15-year-old Nova Scotia boy was bumped from a flight and left to sleep on the floor at Pearson. Two years in advance, another St. John’s teen spent the evening alone on the comparable airport in with only a $10 food voucher after his Air Canada flight was once became again due to bad weather. 

“We want to recognize that there clearly is a problem right here,” with airline group of workers and possibly government regulation, Jack said.


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After hearing from Cross Public, Air Canada offered O’Leary a $500 commute coupon “as a goodwill gesture,” which O’Leary says she declined, pronouncing, “it was never concerning the money.”

She says all she desires is a clear clarification from the airline, but did not get it.

“i cannot just settle for what took place to my daughter and that i are not looking for that to happen to other households.” She says Eva is fine now, however doubts she is going to fly alone once more.

Air Canada abandons 14-year old at Toronto airport after cancelling her flight

Air Canada says it is ‘following up internally’ within the wake of the incident. (Pelin Sidki/CBC)

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