Four days from Montreal to WashingtonKIM PIL-GYU
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAngIlbo.
It was a flight from Montreal, Canada to Washington DC. I was waiting at the gate, but there was no announcement to board the plane. I got a text message announcing a one-hour delay, and then another one-hour delay, only for the flight to be canceled in the end. At the check-in counter, I was standing in line with hundreds of passengers from other canceled fights. But there were only two agents dealing with them. After waiting for six hours, I got a ticket from Washington through Toronto the next day. The motel room I got nearby was 591 Canadian dollars, more than 600,000 won.
When I got up in the morning, I got a text message saying that the flight to Toronto was canceled. So, I decided to take a train to Toronto. Five hours later, I arrived at Pearson Airport, checked in and got ready to board. But shortly before departure, the flight to Washington DC was canceled. I tried to get my luggage back, but the airport was chaotic with piles of luggage that were not claimed. An employee who had a walkie-talkie said there was nothing he could do. A tourist from Britain said that he had been there for three days after his luggage was lost. It was the same as the movie, Terminal.
In the end, the airline booked a flight on another airline. I would have missed that flight if I hadn’t checked my email in time. After checking in, I was at immigration, and this time, an airport agent came and directed all passengers to leave. There was an issue with customs because of lost luggage. Passengers were frustrated, but there was nothing we could do. The airline booked the first flight the next day, saying, “It will be fine tomorrow.”
At 5 a.m., the departure hall was already crowded. Many flights were scheduled at 7 a.m., but the airport immigrations service began at 6 a.m. I could barely get on board, and I was anxious that we could be told to deplane at anytime. The plane took off and I was relieved when it finally landed in Washington DC.
This is what I went through over the past four days. In CNN’s study on major airports around the world, Pearson Airport in Toronto was named the worst airport, with 52.5 percent of flight delays in a month. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the workforce was downsized, but travel demand has surged. The baggage operation was hit hard. Situations are similar in other airports in London and Paris. As a result, many people are paying unnecessary costs. The travel industry expects the chaos to continue until the end of the year. The aftereffects of the pandemic run deep.