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Air Canada and Toronto Pearson criticized by former NHL player

A former NHL player stuck at Toronto’s Pearson airport due to delays criticizes the facility, along with Air Canada, in a video uploaded to social media on Monday.

Ryan Whitney, former professional hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was trying to travel from Edmonton, Alberta. in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday when he encountered a series of delays that would see him stuck at the airport until Monday morning.

“I don’t even really know where to explain,” the former NHL player said in a video uploaded to his Twitter account which has since amassed nearly 800,000 views in four hours.

He says he landed in Toronto around 3 p.m. Sunday and spent three hours waiting in line to clear customs, only to find his connecting flight to Boston had been cancelled.

“At this point now, I’m going to see there are about 400 people online with about two Air Canada employees,” Whitney said. “The [were] a million canceled flights and everyone was panicking.

After waiting in that line for nearly six hours, hoping for help, Whitney said Air Canada closed the counter and told the remaining customers to seek help elsewhere.

So Whitney said he decided to re-enter the Canadian section of the airport, meaning he had to go through customs again – this time, Canadian.

“By the time I finally speak to someone from Air Canada, it’s 1 a.m.,” Whitney said. At this point, he says he asked for his luggage because he was planning to cross the Canada-US border to Buffalo and catch a flight to Boston once there. He stated that Air Canada did not allow him to retrieve his baggage.

Instead, he said they had rebooked him on a new flight, which was due to leave Toronto at 8 a.m. for Boston.

After arriving nearly four hours early for his rescheduled flight, Whitney says Air Canada told him they had in fact booked him a ticket on a different flight – from Toronto to Montreal, where he would connect at Boston.

The problem? Whitney said he was not informed of this change in advance and the flight was due to leave in 50 minutes. As he had just arrived at the airport, expecting to fly in four hours, he did not pass through security in time for his flight to Montreal.

“I started laughing,” he said. “It was either that or cry.”

At the time Whitney uploaded the video, he said his departure had been delayed again. This time, until 10 a.m.

When reached for comment, an Air Canada spokesperson told CTV News Toronto that “long airport processing times and other restrictions have resulted in flight delays and, in some cases, cancellations, which may impact not only our customers, but may also impact our human resources and operations.”

“These factors, along with a problem with the airport’s baggage system on Sunday, led to the cancellation of Mr Whitney’s original flight (he was changed and flew today ),” they said.

“We regret the inconvenience these issues are causing some customers and are working hard with our third-party partners to improve the situation as quickly as possible.”

Delays and long waits have been reported at Toronto Pearson since late April, with the airport blaming them on staffing issues.

Last month, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) Chief Operating Officer Craig Bradbrook told CP24 that delays could become “unsustainable” as we enter the summer season as the authority expects to see around 45,000 international arrivals per day during this time.

“I’m so in shock in this place,” Whitney said in her video. “It is the greatest shame known to man.”

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