Stranded for the holidays

Concordia students struggled to fly home to their families amidst delayed and cancelled flights

For many, snow storms over this holiday season meant dreams of a white Christmas came true. However, for other students trying to fly home to their families, snow storms meant flight delays and unforeseen challenges. 

Emily Jans, a first-year therapeutic recreation student from Alberta, faced these challenges when her flight from Toronto to Edmonton was cancelled on Dec. 21. Jans said she was forced to choose between spending Christmas there or an extra $850 to be with her family in Alberta. 

“Basically, I was stranded in Toronto,” she said.

Jans said she was notified by Flair Airlines that her flight had been delayed by three hours after she arrived at the airport. 

Three hours later, as she was getting ready to check in, she got another email. 

“I didn’t really check it, but I go upstairs, and I see a big line of other angry people, and I was like ‘oh no, what is happening?’ And then I checked my email; my flight was cancelled.” 

said Jans

According to Jans, the flight was cancelled because it did not have a crew for the plane. The next available flight was on Dec. 28. Unless she had found another option, she would spend Christmas alone in Toronto.

“That’s when the panic ensued,” she continued. Because she would have to stay in Toronto for a few days, the airline was responsible for arranging hotel accommodations for her, according to Canada’s Air Passenger Rights. But for Jans, spending a week in Toronto was not an option. 

She started looking for different ways to get home, including a three-day train leaving on Christmas Eve. She tried calling the airline and was told that she was the 400th customer in line. She requested a callback, which she never got. 

She found an available ticket on a Westjet flight for $855.55 plus baggage fees. The total price of her initial flights was $637.04. 

She decided to pay the extra, but said: “The one thing I kept thinking when I bought my ticket was: ‘This is the price of a flight outside of Canada.’ My friends were going to France and Mexico… That’s the price of going to France, but I was just going to Alberta.”

On her way back to Montreal, Jans’ suitcase got damaged. According to her, “a lot of people had broken luggage.”

Jans  hopes she will get a reimbursement for the cancelled flight. According to a customer service agent with Flair Airlines, the refund can take up to 10 days. For now, Jans has not heard back from the airline.

For Rodrigo Allison, a second-year finance student from Mexico, these flight difficulties resulted in spending three hours in a plane during a snowstorm. 

Allison was scheduled to fly home to Mexico on the morning of Dec. 16, with a layover in Denver. He got an email from Air Canada warning him that the weather might affect his flight, but until the day of the flight, everything seemed to be running as scheduled.

Once inside the plane, the pilot announced that the weather was not safe enough to leave. Allison ended up spending three hours on that plane. “They didn’t give us any information [about what was happening],” he said. 

Allison missed his layover by an hour and a half. He got to Denver in the early afternoon and was told that the next available flight was the next morning. He spent the rest of the day and the night alone in the airport.

On Jans’ end, she is very disappointed with her experience. “I’m a student, and if they offer it [cheap flights], if they have low-fare airlines, that’s amazing. But I don’t think that should be taken away from the respect that we deserve as people. We were not treated with respect at all.”

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