Mother and daughters sleep on Toronto Pearson’s bathroom floor after chaotic travel experience

“Mom, don’t tell anyone about this.”

That’s what Laura Yoon’s two young daughters told her after they were forced to spend the night on the floor of a family bathroom at Pearson Airport due to a flight delay.

The Nova Scotia family said they had bought tickets to travel to South Korea, where Yoon’s husband is from, earlier this year.

The plan was to visit relatives in Seoul after the COVID-19 pandemic discontinued its plans to do so in 2020.

“We bought the tickets in February and we never anticipated any of this mess to happen,” Yoon told CTV News Toronto from Seoul.

Yoon’s husband traveled ahead to join his family in South Korea before his wife and two daughters arrived on July 2.

But when her first flight from Halifax was delayed due to what Yoon said WestJet described as an unrelated “immigration issue” at London’s Gatwick airport, her vacation plans began to fall apart and she missed her connecting flight from Toronto. to Seoul.

“When we got to Toronto, they [WestJet] He said ‘It’s not our fault you missed your flight. Here’s your redirect,’” Yoon said.

When Yoon inquired about food and hotel vouchers from the WestJet representative at Pearson, he said they explained to him that he did not qualify and that since the original delay was caused by an immigration issue, they were absolved of any responsibility.

Laura Yoon’s daughters are seen waiting at Toronto Pearson Airport following a WestJet flight delay on July 2, 2022. (Supplied)

Yoon said that at that point, it became clear that he would have to make arrangements out of his own pocket to spend the night somewhere in order to catch his rescheduled flight the next morning.

And with so many other travelers in the same boat, Yoon said he tried but couldn’t find a hotel that wasn’t fully booked and within his price range.

She said she was left looking for a safe place to rest with her children overnight and had no choice but to sleep in a nursing room with a locked door.

“So we washed the floor with antiseptic wipes and put out blankets so the kids wouldn’t get infected with germs. So he [children] he fell asleep and was able to rest,” Yoon said.

Yoon described the experience as humiliating, but said that she and her young daughters “survived” the ordeal and eventually managed to catch their flight the next morning.

Laura Yoon’s daughters are seen sleeping on the floor of a sick room at Toronto Pearson Airport following a WestJet flight delay on July 2, 2022. (Supplied)

This is not the first time a family traveling through Pearson has been forced to sleep in less than ideal surroundings due to delays and logistics problems at the airport.

Last month, a mother and her three children were left sleeping on the floor due to Air Canada delays.

In Canada, passengers traveling by air are entitled to compensation for flight delays and cancellations under the Canadian Transportation Agency. Air Passenger Protection Regulation (APR).

Food compensation is supposed to kick in if a flight is delayed more than three hours by a problem that is under the carrier’s control, but not related to security, air traffic, or customs control.

If passengers have to wait overnight for their flight, airlines have to offer hotel or other comparable accommodation free of charge.

In an email to CTV News Toronto, WestJet apologized but said that because the flight was affected due to instructions from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the delay was deemed “out of” its control. .

“When uncontrollable events occur, guests are not entitled to compensation or vouchers,” a spokesperson confirmed.

But Air Passenger Rights Chairman Gabor Lukacs said WestJet’s reasoning for denying Yoon compensation over an immigration issue “rings false” and that his statement is “absurd.”

“It is not an excuse in itself. This is a presumed ‘knock-on’ effect. The question WestJet has to explain is what it has done to mitigate the delay: did it get another plane, crew, etc? Lukacs said.

“This also underscores the many loopholes in Canada’s poor APPR, which we have been alerting the public and government to for years. In the European Union, passengers would have received meal and hotel vouchers no matter the reasons,” he added.

This image shows an infographic illustrating the differences between air passenger rights in the European Union and Canada. (Rights of Air Passengers)

Speaking from Seoul, Yoon said that she is happy to have reached her destination, but is looking forward to her return trip later this month.

“I am very careful about going home because we have to go through Toronto Pearson Airport again once we get back home. I am fearing it with every ounce of my being,” Yoon said.

Meanwhile, Yoon said he hopes WestJet will be “more considerate” of its customers in the future and reimburse him for the more than $300 he spent on food and blankets.

With files from Brooklyn Neustaeter and Abby Neufeld

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