Update: John Brennan informed GuelphToday on Tuesday that he has been able to book a flight home on Wednesday, April 1, arriving in Toronto on Thursday.
Erin councillor John Brennan was supposed to fly back to Canada on March 17. Instead, he and his wife Lorrie are stuck in Lima, Peru, with thousands of other Canadians.
By email, Brennan said when they arrived in Lima from Iquitos to catch their flight home the next morning, they found out their Air Canada flight was cancelled.
“We were unable to find anyone from Air Canada to help us out,” Brennan said. “The travel agency which led our tour directed us to the airport hotel.”
Their tour group consisted of the Brennans and six Americans. The US government was able to organize a repatriatriation flight for their citizens.
The local Canadian Embassy used a system which sent out a code for people to use on the Air Canada website to book seats at about $1,400 per person on one of three flights out last week.
“Unfortunately, people shared the code and many people, particularly elderly or medically compromised people were unable to get on the website and make a booking,” Brennan said via email.
Brennan said he didn’t get a code from the embassy for the first and third flight. After being on the computer within five minutes of getting a code for the second flight, they were unable to book despite trying for over an hour.
“Being somewhat disheartened by this experience, we realized that we may be stranded here for some time,” he said.
At this point, they moved to cheaper accommodations because the airport hotel cost $120 USD per night.
“At this point our chief worries are running out of medication, which I take after a previous heart surgery and the longer we are here, the more chance we have of contracting the virus,” he said.
Brennan said he thinks the embassy needs a better system for allocating codes.
“Obviously after three flights, with all the ensuing chaos, the current system is not reaching the people for whom it is intended,” he said. “I believe they need to issue individual codes, one to each person or family.”
Despite this, he said he understands the difficult situation the embassy is facing.
“I understand there are at least several thousand Canadians in Peru, wanting to go home,” he said. “The flights, at 400 passengers, will take quite some time to meet the demand.”
Brennan said he and his wife are hopeful they will get on one of the three flights scheduled for this week.