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'It’s horrendous': Vancouver traveller says airline offered no 'reasonable alternatives' following bird strike

The airline has come under fire for similar situations with numerous travellers.
A UBC student was told her Vancouver flight from YVR airport was cancelled with Flair Airlines and that she was not entitled to a refund.

A Vancouver student says her travel plans were ruined after her flight to Montreal was cancelled the night before she was scheduled to leave. 

University of British Columbia (UBC) student Emily Lindts was scheduled to attend a grad student conference in Montreal over St. Patrick's Day weekend. She was scheduled to depart on Flair Airline's flight F8200 from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Montréal Pierre-Elliot Trudeau (YUL) on March 16 and she was slated to return on a flight departing on March 20. 

But the night before she was supposed to leave, the ultra-low-cost carrier contacted her with some unfortunate news. 

"The night before I was due to fly out, I received an email at around 9 p.m. saying that my flight was cancelled because of 'an animal attack (ex. bird attack) that caused damage to the outside airplane controls and that I would be re-booked on a different flight or I could request a refund," she told V.I.A.

An email from the Flair Airlines Passenger Services Team also stated that "no compensation was payable for this type of delay" as per section 19 of Canada's Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).

The only flight option Flair provided her with was a flight that departed from YVR on March 20, which was the day Lindts was originally scheduled to come home after the student conference. 

"UBC only gives $1000 total in travel funding for graduate students, $500 from the Graduate Student Society, and $500 from my department. I was already maxing out that funding with costs," she explained.

In order to attend her conference, Lindts booked a "last-minute" Air Canada flight for $1200, which she paid for on top of the $500 ticket she'd purchased with Flair. And while she'd been informed that she could request a refund if she didn't want to take the re-booking option, she received some bad news on the night before she was scheduled to fly home. 

UBC student receives bad news on her cancelled flight from Vancouver with Flair Airlines

Flair informed Lindts that the cancellation was "due to uncontrollable safety" and therefore she was not entitled to a refund. 

But according to the APPR guidelines, an airline must book the passenger on a flight that departs within 48 hours of the original scheduled departure, even if the reason for the cancellation is outside of the airline's control. This rule applies to both large and small carriers (Flair is considered small).

Since Lindts was originally scheduled to fly on a March 16 flight, the March 20 option that Flair offered was four days or roughly 96 hours after the original departure. Since the airline could not provide an option within 48 hours, it had to provide a refund as per the APPR.

After V.I.A. reached out to the airline, a spokesperson stated that it would  “review the circumstances of the customer’s query" and that it regretted she was inconvenienced.

"Our objective is for our passengers to have the best experience when flying Flair.”

Flair eventually provided Lindts with a full refund of her original ticket price. But the traveller notes that the note did not contain an apology. 

"There was no explanation and the email back to me only contained 'Refund processed' and the receipt," she said. "There are multiple Facebook groups with outraged Flair customers. It’s horrendous that they are refusing refunds to these customers and that they provide no reasonable alternatives."

A Vancouver man also had a last-minute cancellation due to a bird strike with Flair on a scheduled flight to Arizona. 

"I'll never book with Flair [Airlines] again and they've turned me off of all these ultra-low-cost airlines," he told V.I.A. 

Discount carrier Flair Airlines came under fire recently after nearly 2,000 travellers were stranded in destinations across the country when their flights were cancelled at the eleventh hour following the seizure of four aircraft.

While the airline said it was communicating with passengers, many travellers said they spent days waiting for instructions and some of them re-booked their own flights. Many of them have also expressed uncertainty regarding whether or not they will receive compensation.