Minor Stranded Alone At Pearson Airport, Not Offered Any Help

Air Canada cannot use construction at Toronto’s Pearson airport as an excuse for forcing a 15-year-old boy to spend a long, scary night alone, says the boy’s mother.
Derrin Espinola was flying alone on May 1 from Denver to Thunder Bay, with a stopover in Toronto, when a flight delay leaving Denver caused the teen to miss his connecting flight.
Espinola said that when he arrived in Toronto around 8 p.m., Air Canada rebooked him on a flight to Thunder Bay the following day, at 6 p.m., 22 hours later, but did not offer him any accommodation or vouchers for food.
“I was trapped in the airport and there was nowhere I could go. I could not leave. I could not get a hotel, because I am a minor,” Espinola told CBC News. “It was like being held prisoner.”
The teen said he spent part of the night running between Air Canada service desks explaining that he was a minor and needed help. When none was offered, he did his best to stay alert and awake for fear he would be robbed if he let his guard down.
“I was very hungry, very tired, very scared,” Espinola said. “I didn’t know really what was going to happen to me.”
Meanwhile, his mother, Karin Patock, said she spent 10 hours on the phone, trying to get through to Air Canada and make arrangements for her son.
Patock said she purposely booked with Air Canada from Denver through to Thunder Bay, trusting the airline would live up to the policy about flight delays stated on its website: “Youths travelling alone (ages 12 to 17) … will be taken care of by our agents. We will also arrange for accommodations, meals and transportation if needed.”
Air Canada knew that a three-hour flight delay in a departure would cause her son to miss his connecting flight, but did not make any contingency plans for him, Patock said.
Instead, she said, the airline “rebooked him like any other person, into the next day with no thought what’s going to happen to him when he lands in Toronto in one of the biggest airports in Canada, all by himself.”
Phone calls to Air Canada got a message, “basically saying ‘the airport is under construction and we cannot accommodate anyone right now, so call back later,'” she said. “To me that is unacceptable”
In the end, the family intervened and booked the teen a flight, at their own cost, on another airline, Patock said. 
It was to save him from spending another night alone in Toronto, after the May 2 flight he’d been booked on was cancelled and Espinola was rebooked, a second time, on an Air Canada flight departing May 3.
Patock has filed a complaint with Air Canada and the Canada Transportation Safety Board in hopes of preventing any other teen from going through what her son did.
Source: CBC/Jody Porter
Photo: © Travis Pereira/CBC

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