Ottawa man describes 'fiasco' after hours stuck on Toronto tarmac

An Ottawa man says he and other passengers were stuck aboard a cold plane at the Toronto Pearson International Airport for nearly six hours Monday night, only to be told their flight was cancelled.

Patrick Ladouceur tells Newstalk 580 CFRA he and his wife travelling from Toronto to Manila, Phillippines when the flight from Toronto to Shanghai was abruptly delayed after boarding.

He says passengers were only told there was a mechanical problem, possibly with the air conditioning, and the delay would only be for a few minutes. From there, he says the passengers were stuck aboard for hours with no indication of when they'd be allowed to deplane. Ladouceur says the plane wasn't heated and food was scarce.

"It was so cold I had use, they provide those [blankets] to keep you warm," he said. "They were giving us like cookies and water. Some people were given pop."

Ladoucer says the situation was further complicated by a language barrier as many of the flight attendants could not speak English and struggled to communicate what was happening.

He describes a chaotic scene once the passengers were back inside the airport where they waited for about two hours before the passengers were told their flight had been cancelled all together.

"There were so many people you couldn't hear them," he said. "There were people screaming, there was a girl in the back crying."

He says several people are losing days from short vacations.

"Some Americans I talked to here, they're going to Thailand for 10 days. Just imagine, 10 days. They'll be stuck in Toronto for two, three days now."

Ladoucer says they were told it may be as long as three days before he can retrieve his luggage. He says passengers were given $15 meal vouchers to use inside the airport but have not yet received any further compensation.

Last summer, passengers on two Air Transat flights were similarly stuck on the tarmac in Ottawa for hours when stormy weather forced the flights to be diverted to the capital. The Canadian Transportation Agency has since ruled Air Transat broke its agreement with passengers when it failed to provide food, drinks, and an opportunity to deplane.

In a statement, Greater Toronto Airport Authority spokesperson Erin Kennedy says the airline reported a delay due to a mechanical issue.

"At several points during the delay, GTAA Operations staff offered the airline the opportunity for passengers to be offloaded and moved to the terminal to await the repair," Kennedy says. "The flight was subsequently cancelled by China Eastern at which time their ground staff was responsible for accommodating and rebooking their passengers."

China East Airlines has not responded to requests for comment.