Computer system blackout leaves Air Canada passengers seething

Stranded passengers wait for news for an Air Canada flight in Boston (photo: twitter/@OrtegaYecid)

A system-wide outage left Air Canada passengers frustrated and looking for answers as dozens of flights were delayed Tuesday evening across North America.

“We’re experiencing a computer technical issue that is affecting our airport operations, check-in and customer call centres,” read a statement posted on Air Canada’s Twitter feed. “We’re working to resolve this issue. We thank customers for their patience.”

By 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time, Air Canada announced its systems were slowly coming back online.

“We are working hard to move as many customers as possible this evening and we are putting on additional capacity to transport customers affected tonight on flights tomorrow. Customers should check their flight’s status before going to the airport.”

Frustrated passengers took to social media Tuesday evening to vent their frustration from coast to coast.

“I am in the 7689 flight Boston to Toronto,” posted Yecid Ortega. “Cancelled. They are telling us to get out bags and go and try to call tomorrow. What? Who is going to pay for the hotel? Inconveniences? I am a poor graduate student.”

The outage made it impossible for Air Canada passengers to check-in, book a flight, or check the status of their flight.

Others from Toronto to Vancouver complained about sitting at departure gates, without any updates from Air Canada staff.

Jennifer M. Okoeguale complained on Twitter that her flight had been left on the tarmac, without food, “delay wouldn’t be so bad if we were just let off the plane!”

The federal government recently finalized regulations to provide minimum compensation for delays within an airline’s control. Starting July 15, in similar circumstances, airlines must:

  • communicate to passengers in a simple, clear way information on their rights and recourses and regular updates in the event of flight delays and cancellations;
  • provide compensation of up to $2,400 for bumping a passenger for reasons within their control

The regulations also say airlines must provide an update every 30 minutes to passengers.

In the meantime, provisions in Air Canada’s published tariff apply.

Airports in Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto tweeted that they were trying to help in whatever way they could.

“Passengers are advised we are currently supporting @AirCanada as they are experiencing a system outage affecting passenger check-in and processing,” read a post on Vancouver International’s Twitter feed.

Air Canada said affected passengers can rebook on another flight without penalty.

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