Ontario couple warns about using driver's licence to fly after major issue at airport
An Ontario couple whose driver's licences expired during the pandemic said they were denied boarding a flight and were forced to miss a funeral.
"They just denied us and wouldn’t let us go," Lynne Gilchrist of Caesarea, Ont. told CTV News Toronto.
Gilchrist and her husband Stuart planned to attend a family funeral in late August and had to fly to Edmonton, Alta.
They showed up at Toronto Pearson International Airport ready to board the plane and handed over their driver's licences as identification.
"We went to a ticket agent and she just kind of threw our ID back at us and said 'Expired and expired.' We both looked at each other and said 'What?'"
To slow the spread of COVID-19, Ontario extended the deadline to renew your driver's licence, health card, licence plate sticker and other documents until February 28, 2022. And while it’s acceptable to drive in Ontario with an expired driver’s licence, that doesn’t mean you can use it to get on an airplane.
The province is also not sending out reminder letters during the pandemic and that means some people could have expired identification in their wallet and not know it.
The Gilchrists both have Canadian passports, which are required for flying outside of Canada, but they didn’t bring them to the airport because they are generally not needed for a domestic flight.
"We had no idea until we got to the airport that our ID has expired because, due to the pandemic, Ontario had not been sending out notifications," Gilchrist said.
The couple renewed their driver's licences and health cards online while at the airport, but the airline said the format was unacceptable and they were not allowed to fly.
When CTV News Toronto reached out to the Ministry of Transportation a spokesperson said "We are sorry to hear about this individual's experience and express our condolences during this difficult time."
In a statement the spokesperson added "Ontario has extended the renewal deadlines for most driver and vehicle products, including driver’s licences and licence plate stickers, with an expiry date on or after March 1, 2020. Extended products remain valid until February 28, 2022, and these extensions have been communicated to our North American transportation and law enforcement partners."
"Although we have communicated the extensions, the Ministry of Transportation cannot comment on how the validity of Ontario driver and vehicle products are treated under the laws of other jurisdictions outside of Ontario or by corporate organizations. Notices will be sent by mail to individuals who will need to renew their driver's licence or licence plate sticker prior to the end of the extension period on February 28, 2022."
"If you are travelling outside Ontario, we encourage you to renew your driver’s licence and licence plate sticker before leaving."
Lynne Gilchrist and her husband missed the funeral and say not being allowed to fly due to having an expired licence was a frustrating experience.
"Would you not advise your passengers to make sure their ID is up to date during the pandemic especially?” said Gilchrist. "I want people to be aware because I don't want people to suffer the way that I did."