February 8, 2019 6:35 pm
Updated: February 11, 2019 1:01 pm

Flair Air passengers returning to Winnipeg from Orlando faced 20-hour delay, several hours on tarmac

WATCH: Airline passengers from Orlando, Fla. expecting to arrive in Winnipeg Thursday were forced to endure a frustrating 20-hour delay. Global's Malika Karim reports.

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Passengers heading from sunny Florida to frigid Winnipeg say the lack of clear communication from Flair Air during a long and complicated series of delays has turned them cold.

Flair Air flight 8802 was supposed to arrive in Winnipeg from Orlando Thursday afternoon but only landed at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport after 11 a.m. Friday.

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Passengers described a series of miscommunicated and conflicting emails, hours spent on the tarmac without food or water, meal vouchers that restaurants wouldn’t accept and having to find their own way to a hotel provided by the airline during the delay.

READ MORE: No-frills ‘nightmares’: Passengers describe missing refunds and bookings with Canada’s Flair Air

“The frustrating part was the emails that kept coming from Flair Air, ‘Your flight is being delayed. Your flight is being delayed.’ I got so many on my phone,” said passenger John Ilag.

“It kept moving the time back from the original actual time.”

The ordeal began Wednesday when passengers received an email from the airline saying their flight the following day would be delayed. Thirty minutes later, they received another email saying the first email was in error and to disregard it.

The following day, they arrived at the airport only to be told their flight was, indeed, delayed.

READ MORE: Flair CEO says ‘David and Goliath’ battle prompted predatory pricing probe into WestJet

After finally boarding the plane, passengers were delayed again, this time, sitting for more than three hours on the tarmac before the pilot turned around, citing mechanical issues.

“It wasn’t flyable, according to the pilot’s words,” said John.

“The engines were going, but it wasn’t going really strong, and then it just stopped,” added passenger Andrew McGregor.

“It was kind of scary, because if they had taken off, you know, it could have been dangerous.”

A flight board at the Orlando Airport shows the cancelled Flair Air flight. John Ilag/Submitted

John Ilag/Submitted

Once people deplaned, they were told the flight would now take off at 5 a.m. Friday.

Hungry passengers were given meal vouchers that weren’t accepted by several of the airport restaurants, said Melanie Ilag.

“They provided us with vouchers, $10 and that was Canadian, which some of the restaurants didn’t even accept Canadian [vouchers].”

READ MORE: Flair Airlines moving headquarters from Kelowna to Edmonton

Guests were also provided hotel rooms, but there were delays for some people for the shuttle from the hotel, and in order to get back to the airport the next morning, people had to use Uber or taxis to get to the airport, said the Ilags.

The flight was delayed again by two hours the following day, and some people did not get an email telling them the flight had been cancelled, said John, meaning they spent an extra two hours at the airport.

Flair Air responded to Global News with this statement, attributed to a company spokesperson:

“We are looking into the situation to understand what happened and how we can improve. The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority. Getting our passengers to their destination safely and affordably is what Canadians trust us to do and we take this commitment very seriously.

“We apologize for any inconvenience.”

RELATED: No-frills airlines soaring in popularity in Canada

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