Storm causes buildup of delayed baggage at Ottawa airport

On Tuesday morning, there were three clusters of unclaimed baggage like this at the Ottawa airport. (Mateo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada - image credit)
On Tuesday morning, there were three clusters of unclaimed baggage like this at the Ottawa airport. (Mateo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Lucie St. Gelais of Quebec puts trackers in her bags when flying — a practice that paid off during the fallout from the storm that has complicated Ontarians' 2022 holiday travel plans.

"I just wanted my hair straightener," Gelais said after retrieving her luggage Tuesday morning from one of three clusters near the Ottawa airport's Air Canada lost baggage kiosk.

Gelais had returned home from a Caribbean cruise on Monday after flying through Tampa Bay, Fla., Toronto and then Ottawa. But her checked bags didn't make it back with her to the capital city on Monday.

On Tuesday, her tracker confirmed the bags had arrived at the airport, so she drove back.

Mateo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada
Mateo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada

Severe weather to blame

Instead of getting in line at the kiosk, she started looking through the bags and quickly found hers thanks to their easy-to-spot blue tags.

"Like finding my newborn," St. Gelais said, noting that the delay is nobody's fault.

"It's Mother Nature and life goes on."

When asked about the backlog, the Ottawa International Airport Authority referred CBC to Air Canada.

According to the airline, the buildup of bags was largely the result of the same severe weather that prompted airlines to cancel flights. It also affected train travel over the weekend.

It's been very challenging to ensure every customer and their baggage make it to their final destination together, particularly customers on connecting flights, a spokesperson for Air Canada said via email on Tuesday afternoon.

"We understand that it is inconvenient," the email said.

Most of the bags were for customers who were delayed in Toronto or those who hadn't travelled yet, the airline said.

Mateo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada
Mateo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada

Tournament equipment stuck in Toronto

Diane Baker was hoping her daughter's luggage that contained her ringette equipment for a national tournament would be in one of the bundles, but it was still in Toronto as of Tuesday morning.

"It's heartbreaking for her specifically because she's worked so hard ... and she's not able to play," she said.

"The baggage people have been very helpful as much as they can, but there's no results for us yet."

Air Canada said in its statement that it was in the process of getting the bags back to their owners as soon as it could, but warned it may take a few days "as we must also maintain our day-to-day operation."