Air Canada “trapped” a 15-year-old overnight in a Toronto airport, a harrowing experience he claims was “like being held prisoner.”
Derrin Espinola was flying alone on May 1 from Denver to Thunder Bay, with a stopover at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, where he missed his next flight to Thunder Bay, CBC News reported.
The teen said that when he arrived in Toronto around 8 p.m., the airline rebooked him on a flight to Thunder Bay at 6 p.m. the following day — but did not offer him any accommodation or food vouchers.
“I was trapped in the airport and there was nowhere I could go. I could not leave. I could not get a hotel, because I am a minor,” Espinola told CBC News.
He said he spent part of the night pleading for help from Air Canada because he is a minor and needed help. When he got no assistance, he tried to stay awake for fear of being robbed.
“I was very hungry, very tired, very scared,” Espinola said. “I didn’t know really what was going to happen to me.”
Meanwhile, his frantic mom, Karin Patock, said she spent 10 hours on the phone, trying to get through to Air Canada.
Patock said she booked with Air Canada because of its policy about flight delays stated on its website: “Youths traveling alone (ages 12 to 17) … will be taken care of by our agents. We will also arrange for accommodations, meals and transportation if needed.”
But she said the airline “rebooked him like any other person, into the next day with no thought what’s going to happen to him when he lands in Toronto in one of the biggest airports in Canada, all by himself.”
Phone calls to the airline got a message “basically saying ‘the airport is under construction and we cannot accommodate anyone right now, so call back later,’” she said.
“To me that is unacceptable,” she said.
To make matters worse, he was rebooked again for a May 3 flight when his flight to Thunder Bay the next day was canceled.
But his family bought him a ticket on another airline — at their expense — so he would not have to spend another night in Toronto.
Air Canada said it was investigating the matter and will be “reaching out to the family.”
“It has been a challenge with the ongoing runway construction at Toronto Pearson, which was also compounded by severe weather conditions last week in the Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa and surrounding areas, including recent adverse conditions in Thunder Bay,” an airline spokesman told CBC News.