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‘Unusual delay’ strands Toronto-bound travellers overseas for nearly 40 hours

Travellers bound for Toronto were stranded overseas for nearly 40 hours this week after an Air Transat flight experienced an “unusual delay.”

“My daughter had just graduated high school and she’d always wanted to go to Greece, so we took a nice little 12-day family trip,” Tracey Forrest told CTV News Toronto Wednesday.

The Forrests were supposed to return to Toronto from Athens on July 24 on Air Transat flight TS695.

“But our 12-day trip soon turned into 14 days,” she said.

The first mention of a delay took place on the tarmac while the family was on board the plane, Forrest said. At first, she said the airline cited weather as the reason for the setback.

Stuck on the runway for a few hours, Forrest said an ongoing heatwave in southwestern Europe had caused the plane to reach hot temperatures.

“It was just getting hotter and hotter and the people in the back of the plane were the hottest,” she said.

The plane nearly took off that afternoon, Forrest said, but was turned around on the tarmac in the minutes before take-off, with staff saying there was a problem with an engine. The passengers soon deplaned and were shuttled into the airport, where they were given food vouchers and, after several hours, set up in a nearby hotel.

“We were taken care of, but there was so much disorganization,” Forrest said.

Once they arrived at the hotel, approximately eight hours after they were first scheduled to depart, Forrest said there was no Air Transat employee stationed to provide information and rumours soon began to spread rampantly.

“We thought we were supposed to leave the next morning, but that was all rumours too,” Forrest said, claiming that when her family arrived in the morning to take the bus back to the airport, they were told their departure had once again been delayed.

“I get that they didn’t want to fly a plane that wasn’t working, but no one knew what was going on,” she said.

The passengers were then told they would depart at 6 p.m. that day, just under 30 hours after their initial flight.

When 6 p.m. came around, the Forrest family said they decided to take the last shuttle to the airport, as they were nervous they would once again be delayed. Once the last shuttle arrived, however, they said the first buses had already been turned back – they were told again that their flight had been delayed.

“This whole time I’m trying to communicate with Air Transat on their Facebook messenger,” Forrest said. “But staff on there didn’t even have the most up-to-date information.”

In the end, the Forrests wouldn’t be able to leave the country until July 26 at approximately 12:45 a.m. In total, passengers experienced a 36-hour delay, Air Transat confirmed to CTV News Toronto Wednesday.

When reached for comment, Air Transat spokesperson Bernard Cote said the flight experienced an ”unusual delay” due to an unexpected technical issue that required crews to service the aircraft.

“While maintenance took longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances, all passengers were informed of the situation and either decided to head back home or were sent to hotels with meals,” Cote said.

“We sincerely apologize for this delay and invite all passengers to complete our online form for any compensation claim,” Cote added.

Forrest says she has applied for compensation, but that she has been told it could take up to 30 days for a response.

“The airport and resort staff took care of us, they were lovely, but we couldn’t enjoy it because we never knew what the next rumour would be or when we’d be getting home,” she said.

“It was just very frustrating.” 

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