Winnipeg man seeks answers on whereabouts of luggage containing father's ashes, family heirlooms

Most travellers have experienced the inconvenience of lost or delayed luggage, but one Winnipeg man says he has spent an exasperating 19 days overseas missing some very precious cargo - his father's ashes. Rosanna Hempel reports.

Most travellers have experienced the inconvenience of lost or delayed luggage, but one Winnipeg man says he has spent an exasperating 19 days overseas missing some very precious cargo.

Ben Benton told 680 CJOB’s The Start he and his wife left Winnipeg on June 8 for France (via Montreal), on a trip that had a dual goal: to take a much-needed vacation after repeated delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to bring Benton’s late father’s ashes back home.

Benton said the trip was originally planned for last year, but his dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in the fall, which meant they had to postpone. After he died earlier than expected, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant they were unable to re-book their flight until earlier this month.

“We rebooked again for June and tagged on one of my dad’s wishes, which was that his ashes be returned to his homeland in England, where our family’s from,” he said.

“So we tacked on a few days to honour that, and brought his ashes along.”

Ben Benton said the ashes of his father (pictured here) remain lost in transit.

Ben Benton said the ashes of his father (pictured here) remain lost in transit.

Submitted

In addition to the ashes, some family heirlooms were included on the trip, but after close to three weeks, neither of their bags — which contain the treasured items, along with clothing and more — have arrived.

“We’ve travelled extensively, not thinking for a minute that we’d be in this situation now,” Benton said. “We don’t know where a few family heirlooms are, we don’t know where my dad’s remains are — it’s just hit after hit.”

Initially, the couple were told that the bags would be arriving late via a delayed flight from Montreal, so they thought they’d be reunited with their luggage within a couple of days. Instead, it’s been a stressful situation marked by phone call after phone call with no answers.

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“It’s a passing of the buck, so to speak,” Benton said.

“Initially, we were dealing with Air Canada…. We then learned that instead of the next Air Canada flight to (Charles) De Gaulle (Airport) the following morning, they put it on with Air France, which put it into London Heathrow.”

The London airport has made headlines in recent weeks due to massive backlogs of luggage — with bags numbering in the hundreds of thousands remaining undelivered.

“It was just a void. We could get no information from Air Canada, from Air France, from De Gaulle.

“I can buy new clothes, but I can’t buy some of those heirlooms — and I only packed three days of meds (in a carry-on bag).”

Benton said he has since received word on the whereabouts of one of his bags — it’s back in Winnipeg, which isn’t helpful, and he’s not sure which bag it is.

“I don’t know what the solution is here. There’s been no accountability.”

“I know (airports are) short-staffed, because of COVID and everything, but it’s ruined what should have been a trip of a lifetime with a very special purpose.

“We are trying to make the most of it.”

An Air Canada spokesperson told Global News the situation is being looked into and Benton will be contacted directly.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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