• The teen girl was stranded at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Jan. 18 
  • The girl was traveling from Toronto to Newfoundland
  • The airline cited labor disruptions as the reason for the cancellation

An unaccompanied teen girl was left stranded at an airport after her Air Canada flight was canceled. The teen's mother alleged that the airline abandoned her daughter without helping her find food and accommodation.

The 14-year-old girl, identified only by her first name Eva, was stranded at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Jan. 18 after Air Canada canceled her tickets to Newfoundland citing labor disruptions at St. John's airport, CBC News reported.

The teen, who was traveling alone, was on the last leg of her journey after visiting her father in the Dominican Republic when the airline informed her that her tickets had been rescheduled to Jan. 20. The girl was around 2,000 kilometers away from home and was left on her own to find her food and accommodation, alleged Diomerys O'Leary, Eva's mother.

"She was crying and desperate, asking me 'What do I do?' … I just couldn't believe it," the mother recollected the ordeal. O'Leary asked her daughter to check with the airline's counter once again but they reportedly turned her away.

"What did they [Air Canada] expect for her to do? Sit on a bench, and sleep there for days and not even give her food or anything?" O'Leary asked.

Ian Jack, vice president of public affairs at the Canadian Automobile Association, said the airline's rules allow it to not take the responsibility of unaccompanied minors.

"[This will come] as a pretty big surprise to a lot of adults if they do send their child on a plane … because, under Air Canada's own rules, they could be abandoned," Jack said.

Air Canada, like many other airlines, has a paid facility to provide assistance to kids flying alone but the service is not available for multi-leg trips. The facility is provided subject to certain conditions and priority assistance is given for disabled, elderly and young people.

The airline said it had "hundreds of customers requiring assistance" that day after several "unexpected and abrupt" flight cancellations.

O'Leary said she faced difficulties arranging accommodation for her daughter as many hotels would not take underage teens. The woman eventually managed to book an Airbnb accommodation. "It was the worst day of my life. Even after I accommodated her, I wasn't able to sleep that night," O'Leary said.

The mother finally bought an Air Canada ticket for her daughter to travel to Gander in Newfoundland the next day. The girl then had to take a 3-hour-long bus ride to reach her home in St. John's.

Air Canada told CBC News that the staff at the call center "offered to assist with accommodations, but the customer's mother declined." The airline also said it is generally not advisable to let children travel alone on multi-leg flights "due to the possibility of unforeseen flight disruptions outside the airline's control." However, this warning was not provided on the airline's website or mentioned at the time of booking.

O'Leary is demanding a change in the airline's policies and wants it to take more responsibility or stop accepting minors traveling alone on multi-leg flights.

An Air Canada logo at Toronto Pearson International Airport -- the airline is cutting staff due to Covid-19
An Air Canada logo at Toronto Pearson International Airport -- the airline is cutting staff due to Covid-19 GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Cole Burston