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Air Canada passengers frustrated after tech issue delays, cancellations

Last week's technical issues at Air Canada caused delays and cancellations and left hundreds of Canadians stranded and frustrated.

Derrick Ash, a frequent Air Canada flyer, was one of the people affected by the issue. He was set to return home to Calgary, Alta. from Deer Lake, N.L. on Friday, June 2. However, Thursday's IT outage led to two of his morning flights being cancelled, layovers missed and a total of three days stranded without accommodations or compensation from the airline.

The AEROPLAN member said he "got lucky" and paid a local family out of pocket to host and feed him for a weekend.

"I don't really care about the money. It really is the principle. You left a customer out in the cold, and you really didn't give a crap," Ash told on Tuesday.

When Ash went to file for compensation on the airline's website using his booking reference number and ticket number, a daunting message appeared: no match found.

"It's ridiculous," said the avid traveller who has been flying with the airline since 1997.

The Canadian Press reported Friday the Montreal-based airline said initial responses denying compensations stemmed from an error.

"Air Canada is offering compensation in line with APPR (Air Passenger Protection Regulations) compensation levels for flights which were affected by the IT outage. Some passengers had received erroneous responses from us, and we are in the process of re-contacting them with the correct responses," spokeswoman Angela Mah told the Canadian Press.

Monique and Allan O'Donnell told in an email they went through four delayed flights and one cancellation before returning home from Barbados.

While stranded on the tropical island for two days, the couple received a meal voucher each for US$14 from an Air Canada customer service representative who said "it was enough," Monique told Thursday.

"We are beyond frustrated at this point. We should not have to go through the additional stress of fighting for compensation…after a couple days of hell."

The country's largest air carrier has struggled with intermittent computer problems over the past few weeks.

On May 25 it delayed more than half its flights due to a "technical issue" with the system that the airline uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor their performance.

According to tracking service FlightAware, on June 1 it delayed or cancelled more than 500 flights -- over three-quarters of its trips that day -- due to "IT issues." At least 144 of its flights, or 27 per cent of the airline's scheduled load, had been delayed as of late afternoon on June 2, along with 33 cancellations.

On June 1, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra stressed the carrier's compensation responsibilities to its guests.

"Air Canada has obligations to passengers who are impacted because it is caused by things that the airline has control over," he told reporters June 1, hours after the IT issues resurfaced.

Alghabra spokeswoman Nadine Ramadan said in an email Friday the minister's office had been in touch with the company, which assured them it will compensate the affected passengers.

Jesse Battista and his wife Tashae filed for compensation after her flight was three hours late to its final destination on June 1.

At first, the airline denied their compensation request and offered a 15 per cent fare discount on any upcoming flight as a "goodwill gesture."

By Friday afternoon, a week after the incident, the couple received a follow-up email from the Montreal-based airline apologizing for not giving them the “appropriate answer” and offering $400 in settlement.

Air Canada's Mah told The Canadian Press the airline would "investigate to determine the root cause of the cancellation and handle accordingly." has reached out to Air Canada for comment and is still awaiting a response.

--With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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