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article imageAir Canada leaves 15-year-old boy stranded at airport overnight

By Arthur Weinreb     May 11, 2017 in Travel
Toronto - After a connecting flight was missed due to an earlier delay, Air Canada left a 15-year-old boy travelling alone stranded at the airport in Toronto for what could have been 48 hours. Air Canada offered no food or accommodation to the teen.
On May 1, 15-year-old Derrin Espinola was trying to get home to Geraldton, Ontario from Denver. Derrin was travelling alone and was flying to Thunder Bay, Ontario from Denver with a stopover in Toronto. But there was a delay in his flight to Toronto, causing him to miss his connecting flight.
Air Canada simply booked him on another flight leaving for Thunder Bay at 6 p.m. the following day. And that was it. The airline seemed oblivious to the fact he was a minor travelling alone. He was offered neither food vouchers nor accommodation for the night while awaiting his scheduled flight 22 hours later.
Espinola said he felt trapped. He said, “I was trapped in the airport and there was no place I could go. I could not leave. I could not get a hotel room because I’m a minor. It was like being held prisoner.”
Espinola spent the night going to various Air Canada desks in an attempt to get help. But nothing. He was afraid to go to sleep because he was worried someone might rob him of his possessions. And he said he was hungry and scared. And if all this wasn’t enough, the airline cancelled the flight he was to take the next day and simply booked him on a flight leaving May 3. Again, there was no consideration of the fact he was a minor.
Karin Patok, Espinola’s mother, found out about the delay while making the three-hour drive from Geraldton to Thunder Bay to pick her son up. She said she spent about 10 hours trying to contact Air Canada by phone. She said all she got was a recorded message saying the airport was under construction and to call back later.
Patok also said she chose Air Canada because they stated on their website that minors, between the ages of 12 and 17 who are travelling alone, will be taken care of. Agents will ensure they will be fed and put up in hotels if the need arises. None of this happened in Espinola’s case.
On May 2, Espinola's family made arrangements at their own expense for him to fly to Thunder Bay on another airline. Patok said had she been told about the construction back in January when she first bought his ticket, she would have had him fly to Denver via Winnipeg.
Air Canada said they are “reaching out to the family,” which is apparently airline lingo for “We better settle this before we get sued.” But unlike other airlines that have apologized to passengers for difficulties they encountered, Air Canada then tried to pass the buck. The airline blamed construction at the airport and severe weather conditions for what happened to Espinola. But Patok’s complaint was not about the flight delays; it was about how her 15-year-old son was left to fend for himself in Canada’s largest airport for what could have been two days.
Patok has filed complaints with Air Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency.
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