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'Horrific experience': Woman says Canadian airline ruined 'trip of a lifetime'

And she's not alone.
Flair Airlines cancelled a traveller's flight to Vancouver International Airport from the YYZ airport in Toronto. She was headed to Sydney, Australia.

A woman says she had a "horrific experience" attempting to fly with a budget Canadian airline at the start of a bucket-list trip this summer. 

Yasmin Hill was scheduled to depart from the Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto with Flair Airlines en route to Vancouver International Airport on July 31 at midday. The domestic flight was part of a larger travel itinerary to Australia, which she describes as an "adventure of a lifetime."

"I actually quit my job earlier in the year to take some time off and travel, following a stint of poor mental health, due to [COVID-19] and its associated isolation," she tells Vancouver Is Awesome

But the frustrated traveller says her plans were cut short after the discount carrier cancelled her flight in "the eleventh hour" following a six-hour delay. 

As a result of the last-minute cancellation, Hill says she was "stranded" and forced to book a flight that cost four times the amount of her original ticket ($960 CAD instead of the original $250 CAD).

Flair Airlines did, however, offer a replacement flight, but it wasn't scheduled to depart until Aug. 10 — roughly 11 days later than her original departure. Since her flight to Sydney, Australia was also scheduled for Aug. 10, the rescheduled ticket wouldn't allow her to make the trip overseas. 

"I had planned some volunteer farming at a homestay between [Aug. 1 and Aug. 9], as well as a flight to Sydney, Australia on [Aug. 10]," she explains. "I had no other option but to book a replacement flight through another carrier."

Flair Airlines flight delays and cancellations across Canada

After realizing her plans were "ruined," Hill says she felt "distraught, alone, vulnerable and disappointed," adding that the experience was a "very dark cloud over what was supposed to be an adventure of a lifetime." 

To make her replacement flight, she also slept overnight at the airport. 

"This whole situation has had a horrendous impact on my planned travel budget, as well as on my already fragile mental health," she explained.

"Suffice to say, I will not be tempted to book with them again."

Hill added that Flair Airlines didn't "proactively" reach out to her and have been "unhelpful and extremely difficult to understand."

In an emailed statement to V.I.A., a representative for Flair Airlines wrote that it doesn't typically comment on individual passengers' itineraries for "privacy reasons" but that it "seeks to offer the best experience for passengers at the lowest fares on offer." 

The representative added that Flair Airlines "complies with the APPR regulations, and we encourage the customer to contact customer service about the specifics of any compensation they may be entitled to."

Another traveller who was scheduled to fly on the same day as Hill (July 31) on the opposite route (YVR to YYZ instead of YYZ to YVR), also said Flair scheduled her on another flight that didn't depart until a week later. Similarly, she was told her flight was delayed before it was later cancelled. 

On June 22, the Canadian Transportation Agency announced new regulations requiring airlines to provide additional refund requirements to customers who have flights delayed by over three hours or more; the changes come into effect on Sept. 8.

But an air passenger rights advocate says the new rules shortchange Canadian travellers.