‘How can you refund a promise?’: Sunwing cancels destination wedding for Sask. couple

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‘How can you refund a promise?’: Sunwing cancels destination wedding for Sask. couple
WATCH: A Regina couple's dream destination wedding is now in jeopardy because Sunwing cancelled their flight – Jan 3, 2023

It’s becoming more difficult to leave the province of Saskatchewan as flight cancellations are grounding passengers in Regina and Saskatoon.

Sunwing’s latest announcement has ruined the destination wedding of a couple fighting to get married.

“I was almost in a daze. I felt numb. I didn’t know how to react,” said Chad Claffey.

Mandy Canning and her fiancé Claffey booked a destination wedding in Mexico through what they called “an attractive Sunwing package,” for January 2023.

On Thursday, Sunwing announced in a Twitter post that they would be cancelling all flights to and from Saskatchewan airports until Feb. 3.

“Thinking that a press release is an okay way to tell someone their wedding is cancelled, that’s like breaking up a long-term relationship over text message. You just don’t do it,” said Canning.

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“We regret to inform our customers in Saskatoon and Regina that, due to extenuating circumstances, we are unfortunately cancelling our operations from both airports. The cancellations will take immediate effect and apply to travel from both airports up to and including Fri. Feb. 3/23,” read the tweet.

“How can you make up for that when your bags are packed ready to go, wedding dress bundled up in your carry-on and suits packed away just sitting in our bedroom,” said Canning.

“I can’t even bring myself to unpack them. How do you get a refund on that? How can you refund a promise?”

Prior to the cancellation of their anticipated wedding, the couple had a difficult few years managing illness and medical emergencies.

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On Christmas Eve 2020, Claffey was rushed to the emergency room with back pain that paralyzed the lower half of his body. He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and underwent an eight-hour surgery to insert screws into the spine.

“When Chad woke up, they weren’t sure if he was going to walk again at all,” said Canning. “That was surgery number one, which lead to a month in the hospital.”

Read more: Sunwing travel chaos: What recourse do passengers have?

Claffey was transported to Wascana Rehab in Regina in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The couple was only allowed one supervised 45-minute visit per week due to the virus.

“It was like prison rules,” Canning said. “We had been together for two years, but we had also been through this major event. It felt like we were children being told what to do.”

After several weeks in rehab, Claffey was able to walk again with crutches until August 2021, when the same loss of feeling occurred. Several screws in the hardware that was inserted during the first surgery had come loose.

“There’s anger, disappointment, fear, there was just all those emotions, and it wasn’t any fault of the surgeon or anything, it was just the way my bones reacted to it,” said Claffey. “They had to go back in.”

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Claffey proposed to Canning over dinner a week before the second surgery, sneaking the ring into her beer while she was reading the wall menu.

Then, for a third time, Claffey lost feeling below the waist and had to head into surgery number three.

Read more: After Sunwing halts Saskatchewan service, some stranded passengers may return via Edmonton

“I just didn’t want to do another Christmas in the hospital,” said Canning. “We just kept looking forward to this dream wedding where we got to be with all of our closest friends and family who had set aside a week of their lives to come and celebrate with us. That’s all that kept us going.

“It sounds selfish, but I just wanted that day. That day where you have all of your girls with you, all of your friends, my son was set to walk me down the aisle.

They explained that their travel agent exhausted all possible options before ultimately saying the destination wedding would not be possible.

The couple doesn’t believe that they will see any of their money returned, as they didn’t even receive an email saying that their trip was cancelled.

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“We’ve talked about getting our wedding party together and just having a ceremony in a candle-lit church at night or something and that sounds beautiful — but it just feels like it’s not the same,” Canning said.

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