Dream trip to LA bookended by cancelled flights, lost baggage and a night on the airport floor

‘We ended up sleeping on the floor of the airport like rats,’ says Des O’Toole

When Des O’Toole booked his family holiday in December, he couldn’t have imagined the “disaster” that would land on his lap six months later.

Three weeks ago, Mr O’Toole, his wife and his teenage son set out for a trip to LA and Vegas in the United States.

On arrival at Dublin Airport, things were “reasonably efficient” as security queues had been largely improved by then and were “a bit more organised”.

The family arrived with the suggested 3 hours and 30 minutes time before an international flight and had time for a coffee before going to their boarding gate. Their problems began when the Air Canada flight was delayed by one hour, then two, then four.

“Eventually the flight began to board so we were aggravated but we thinking, look, we’re on our way to the holiday. When half the plane has already boarded, we’re waiting to get on and then all of a sudden up on the board it says cancelled.”

“It was just confusion in the airport. We thought they were going to put us on another flight three hours later or something. But nothing. So we just went home and got booked on a new flight the next morning. No refunds, no offer of a hotel or accommodation or food vouchers or anything from the airline,” Mr O’Toole said.

“The next day, we did the whole thing again and that flight was also delayed, but eventually it did take off. So we got to the States and we had two and a half weeks of an amazing holiday, but on the way back things really went wrong.”

The family had booked a connecting flight for their journey home, the first of which was delayed by over 7 hours.

“We missed our connecting flight and waited 23 hours in Toronto Airport for our connecting flight. We ended up sleeping on the floor of the airport like rats. We eventually got on the new flight and arrived in Dublin late and when we went to the carousel to get our bags, they weren’t there,” Mr O’Toole said.

His wife had bought designer clothes and presents for family while on holiday, but “the bags didn’t turn up”, he said.

“We’re home seven days now and we still have not got our bags back.”

The “worst part” was dealing with the lost baggage, he said.

“We queued in the terminal to get to the lost baggage desk for five hours just to fill out a one page form to get a reference number. Half the plane had no bags and people from other flights. They just mysteriously disappeared.”

While waiting in the queue Mr O’Toole and the other passengers could see “mountains and mountains of bags just piled between all the carousels from other flights weeks ago”.

The airport was “chaos” with the lost baggage, he said.

“It’s under-resourced, there’s no co-ordination or communication and nobody’s taking ownership of the problem. We can’t even get through to the DAA about it. I was waiting over an hour the other day and it just rang out. Airlines blame baggage handlers, baggage handlers say they don’t have enough staff, airports blame the airlines. It’s a mess.”

When asked for a response, Air Canada said it would not comment and would only deal with customers directly.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times