air canada flight 856

A plane stuck at Toronto's Pearson Airport devolved into sweaty enraged chaos

Toronto Pearson International Airport is a hot mess right now, with passengers complaining of painfully long lines and miserable conditions as airport staff struggle to overcome whatever the excuse is this week.

Looking at airport security delays on a macro level only offers some scope into the suffering of travellers, but one firsthand account of this week's airport madness provides a glimpse into just how bad a flight out of a crowd-inundated Pearson can be.

One passenger thought that the worst of their experience had ended once clearing security, but that mad dash was only the beginning, as those aboard an Air Canada flight headed to London, U.K., were reportedly forced to sit in the plane on the tarmac for over five hours in miserable conditions.

Passengers boarded Air Canada flight AC856 from Toronto to London Heathrow on Monday evening at 9:30 p.m. The flight was initially delayed by 45 minutes due to the ongoing security delay situation in the airport, but what should have been a brief delay quickly ballooned into hours.

The plane in question, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, is the top of the line in commercial aviation with lots of fancy perks. But that's on a good day.

On Monday, passengers found themselves on more of a Nightmareliner.

"The flight was delayed over five hours," said Lea Ravensbergen-Hodgins, a passenger on the flight. "Security took an hour and 20 minutes (which is ridiculous), but that was honestly fine compared to what happened later on."

Ravensbergen-Hodgins tells blogTO that "because of slow security, we were delayed 45 minutes. But then once we were on the plane, we were delayed another four and a half hours! The plane was completely packed. We must have been 300 passengers."

air canada flight 856

All the while, passengers were reportedly subjected to increasingly hot temperatures inside the plane, with one claiming that the cabin exceeded 30 C, as the aircraft's air conditioning system was either not turned on or malfunctioning.

"It was absolutely boiling! We were all so hot and dehydrated and kept being told we were about to leave, but we didn't until 2 a.m.! It was so, so smelly due to the lack of airflow and the extreme heat."

If the heat wasn't bad enough, Ravensbergen-Hodgins says she was seated directly adjacent to the aircraft's lavatories, and a lack of window at her seat added to the feeling of claustrophobia.

With the mercury and tensity rising and passengers simultaneously losing both their figurative and literal cool, irritability took over, and passengers reportedly began removing masks.

Ravensbergen-Hodgins says that at first, unmasked passengers were faced with threats of fines, "but three hours into the flight attendants gave up and let people be maskless. So I'm looking forward to getting covid on top of the horrible hot, claustrophobic experience."

In an apparent acknowledgement of passengers' collective anger, Air Canada provided a complimentary glass of wine (it was a wine glass shaped disposable cup, let's be real) at 3:30 a.m., which Ravensbergen-Hodgins claims was "insulting," just the final nail in the coffin of what she describes as "the worst experience, ever."

blogTO reached out to Air Canada for comment on the flight, though the airline has yet to provide a statement at the time of writing.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau


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