Canadian triathlete’s bike, bags lost before critical event amid travel challenges

By Danina Falkenberg

A Canadian triathlete from Winnipeg flew to the U.S. for a big race, but when he arrived, his bike — a critical piece of equipment — was lost in airline baggage.

Blake Harris’ frustrating travel experience mirrors those of many other passengers in recent weeks, as the airline industry continues to struggle with increased volumes.

“I’ve been following the Air Tags and they’ve been sitting still at Calgary,” he told CityNews.

“When I got here, I had no bags, no bike — which obviously is pretty important. All of my sporting equipment to race is there. So I’ve been piecing together equipment to get the races going, but it’s still not my equipment, it’s not the equipment I’ve been training on for the past several years.”

Harris, a Canadian junior elite triathlete, flew to California late last week for a developmental pro race. His travel adventure to the U.S. included delays and flight changes.

The plan was to fly from Winnipeg to Calgary, and then Los Angeles. However, Harris eventually ended up flying from Winnipeg to Calgary, then to Vancouver, before his final destination.

In the journey, his bike and bags got lost, marking a rocky start to the competition for the young athlete.

“We boarded the plane at 6:30, on time, and then we sat on the tarmac in Winnipeg for probably three hours. Then they un-boarded the plane for about an hour, then re-boarded the plane,” he recalled.

When CityNews spoke with Harris, his bike had been missing for about a day and a half. It’s only because of the Air Tags he placed in his gear that he knows where exactly everything is.

By the time of interview, Harris had not heard back from WestJet, despite him submitting a missing baggage claim.

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In a statement to CityNews, WestJet says details were provided to the baggage team and that every effort was being made to locate and return Harris’ belongings.

“On July 14th, we responded to a significant infrastructure outage which impacted WestJet’s airport check-in, flight planning, and payment services on Our teams worked with all external parties to fully resolve this issue. However, the significant delays incurred by this outage across our network resulted in compounding downward impacts, and we sincerely apologize to our guests who experienced disruptions to their travel plans,” the statement reads.

“It’s a really important race in terms of athlete development, as well as reaching out to sponsors and stuff, saying this is one of my race results. Not having the equipment to go perform at my best is quite a big disadvantage,” Harris told CityNews.

In an Instagram post Tuesday, Harris confirmed he had not received his equipment in time for his race.

“Disappointing weekend out in Long Beach,” he wrote. “Was dealt a bad hand of cards, had to race with borrow (sic) equipment @westjet and I found myself throwing up after taking on water in the swim.”

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