Anxious passengers can't get through to Air Canada as Max 8 ban snarls service

MONTREAL – Canada's largest airline was overwhelmed with calls as travellers scrambled to rebook flights after Ottawa joined dozens of countries in grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft yesterday.

Calls to Air Canada's customer service line Wednesday and today prompted a recording that said call volume has temporarily exceeded the company's capacity to answer or even place callers on hold.

The message cites “unforeseen circumstances,” and directs callers to Air Canada's website.

Kimberly Yetman Dawson, visiting family in Ontario, says she booked a second return flight to Halifax this Saturday at double the cost due to confusion over whether her original trip – scheduled initially on a Max 8 – would go ahead.

Maninder Singh, the owner of InterSky travel agency in Montreal, says the Max 8 ban will cost him cash as he refunds money to passengers whose flights have been cancelled.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the decision to ground the planes was a precautionary move made after a review of the available evidence in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster that killed all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians.