An Elmira family was forced to spend $4,000 to get home after their flight with Flair Airlines was unexpectedly cancelled, leaving them scrambling in Mexico.
After a week-long family vacation driving around Yucatan, Sonya Boht, her husband Julian Gavaghan and their children Arthur and Sophie were met with a nightmare upon arriving at the Cancun International Airport for their flight back to Waterloo Region last week.
They arrived at the airport January 4 at about 9 a.m. for their 11:50 a.m. flight. When they tried to check in, Boht says Flair staff were handing the would-be passengers sheets of paper. “Then they put up a sign in the window and left,” she said.
“It was really scary that they had no human person who was talking to you, just shoving a piece of paper and the piece of paper is clearly indicating… their stated reason for cancelling the flight was weather,” she said.
“In big capital letters under everything [it stated] that the reason was uncontrollable, and it was out of the airline’s control, so [the paper was indicating] ‘we don’t have to do anything to help you.’”
Along with the cancellation notice, the paper indicated a make-up flight was scheduled a week later. Though Boht’s original flight was refunded, there was no compensation offered for accommodation or food due to the fact the flight was cancelled because of an event outside the company’s control.
“I was panicking, for sure. Standing in an airport, in a foreign country with two little kids, not knowing where you’re going to eat that night, if we’re going to be stuck there or if we’re going home or what’s happening.”
Boht messaged her family back home asking them to help find an alternative flight. Her brother found one with another airline that left the Cancun airport at 2:30 a.m. the next morning and landed in Toronto. It cost $4,000 for the family of four.
“It was unbelievable,” she said. “It shakes you, right? You’re like, ‘are we actually going to get home?’ Not until we touched down in Toronto was I like, ‘OK, we’re fine.’
“What I come out of it thinking is, you get what you pay for. And that the bargain isn’t worth the risk. I would never book with them again, which sucks, because they’re a Canadian company, and you want to support local companies. But if they aren’t going to provide a service that other airlines do, it’s not worth it, when a holiday is supposed to be fun. When things go wrong, they did nothing to try to help us deal with the problem.”
Earlier that week on January 1, a Flair Airlines flight from the Region of Waterloo International Airport destined for Cancun was cancelled just before it was expected to take off because ground equipment came into contact with the aircraft.
The Region of Waterloo, which operates the airport, would not provide comment and directed all inquiries to Flair Airlines.
Flair Airlines did not respond by press time.
Arthur Gavaghan, Boht’s son said, “it turns out that Flair’s true flair is for sucking.”