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Mother says daughter's life-saving medication lost in Vancouver baggage chaos

Medication lost in chaos

A Canadian traveller says she spent the majority of her Christmas holidays trying to locate her carry-on luggage – which contained her daughter's life-saving medication – at Vancouver International Airport. 

Kim Tanczos travelled with her family from the Toronto International Airport to YVR  on Dec. 23 during a second winter storm that wreaked havoc on flights across the country. 

While their Air Canada flight was delayed by five hours, they eventually landed in Vancouver before 6 p.m. But a very important piece of luggage was missing when they arrived.

An Air Canada representative told Tanczos before she left Toronto that there wasn't any room to store her carry-on luggage on the plane. When she expressed concern because the luggage contained her daughter's insulin, the staff member assured her that the carry-on luggage would come off the plane with them.

"You just feel rushed ... and [the representative] said, 'We promise as soon as you land, it will be there. It's not a connecting flight," she explained, adding that she was later told that her carry-on was coming in on a different flight an hour after she landed. 

But when they went to claim their luggage at YVR, the family was told that it "didn't make it on the next flight" and would be at the airport in six hours. At that point it was around 6 p.m., meaning that the luggage wouldn't arrive until closer to midnight. 

When she told the Air Canada staff the luggage contained life-saving medication, they were "sympathetic" and offered to bring it to where the family was staying, said Tanczos.

They waited through the night, and the luggage never came. Not only did it contain her daughter's insulin, but it also contained Tanczos' migraine medication and her husband's sleep apnea machine. 

After returning to the airport to look for their luggage, the family said there wasn't any security around and they worried that someone might have stolen it.

"And then I started to cry, because I have no insulin," recalled the mother. "I was tired and broken."

Thankfully, the family's pharmacist in Ontario was able to transfer the medications to a local Walmart --- but Tanczo had used her insurance to fill her prescription before she left and she had to pay upwards of $400 out of pocket. 

The family located the carry-on baggage on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, which was four days after their flight landed in Vancouver. On that final day, it took them an hour to hunt down the bags but they were relieved to have them. 

"You know, like on the Price is Right? These people win prizes and they jump up and down and they're screaming. I was just picturing that was what I would do when I found it but instead I just broke down and I just started crying.

"I was just so happy to see it there."

A spokesperson for YVR told V.I.A. that the airport was operating at roughly 97 per cent its original scheduled flights as of Wednesday but are aware that many passengers are arriving without their luggage. 

Passengers who arrive without the luggage should follow up with their airline and start a claim for their checked bag. They can do that at the airport or online with the airline.

YVR also has a baggage customer support team stationed at both domestic and international arrivals.  

When asked about the security situation, YVR states that "all checked baggage is under the care of control of their respective airline" and that airlines are working to get security patrolling the baggage areas.

"We've been able to work with them to put up some temporary walls and things like that but all checked baggage is under the care and control of the airlines."

In an emailed statement, Air Canada said the widespread storms have resulted in an "increase in delayed and misconnected bags" and that it advises customers to carry-on medication in a purse or small carry-on item.

"Our policy is to allow medication as carry-on at all times. At the airport, customers should remove and keep with them any medication in the carry-on bag in [the] event they are asked to check it," stated the airline. 

Air Canada said it "continues to have security in the excess baggage overflow area," too.  



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