Canceled Air Canada flights snarl long-planned Yukon trip for teen group in Quebec

A group of teenage scouts heading to the Yukon for a long-planned camping trip ended up rolling out their sleeping bags on the floor of YVR after their Air Canada flight was canceled

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A scout group of 20 teens and two adult leaders heading from Quebec for a long-planned camping trip in the Yukon were caught in Vancouver when Air Canada began massively canceling summer flights.

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Instead of arriving in Whitehorse on Saturday, they unrolled sleeping bags to crash onto the ground overnight at YVR’s Gate B26 after their flight was first delayed and then canceled following their connecting Toronto flight from Quebec City.

They thought there would be a flight on Sunday, but when they woke up they found that there wouldn’t be one until Wednesday night.

“We didn’t sleep well, so the energy level is a little lower than yesterday, but we’re trying to keep a smile,” said Sophie Labrecque, 16, who is part of the Poste Sagarmatha-Mahikan scout. group.

William Isabel (pink shirt), Laurence L'Homme and Amelie Tremblay, traveling with their reconnaissance group in Quebec, spent Saturday night sleeping at YVR's Gate B26 after their connecting flight to Whitehorse was delayed and cancelled, then canceled again for the upcoming to dawn .  They are part of a group of 20 teenagers and their group leaders who have spent the past three years planning a week-long trip in the Yukon.
William Isabel (pink shirt), Laurence L’Homme and Amelie Tremblay, traveling with their reconnaissance group in Quebec, spent Saturday night sleeping at YVR’s Gate B26 after their connecting flight to Whitehorse was delayed and cancelled, then canceled again for the upcoming to dawn . They are part of a group of 20 teenagers and their group leaders who have spent the past three years planning a week-long trip in the Yukon. Photo by Submitted photojpg

Others on the trip, such as 14-year-old Ludovick St-Pierre, also helped bring the group together as adult organizers urged Air Canada representatives for better options.

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They were naturally hesitant to leave the airport with no reasonable alternative plans.

After they couldn’t find flights to Calgary or Edmonton, they tried to rent two vans, although it would mean a 28-hour drive from Vancouver to Whitehorse.

“We don’t want to risk waiting three days for our flight and then being delayed or canceled,” Labrecque says of the reasoning.

Since their larger backpacks had been checked in for the trip, they only had their hand luggage with them.

“We had the idea to put our sleeping bags in our little pouches, so that was the best idea we got,” said St-Pierre.

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The Scout group plans and saves to make such a big trip every three years. They had dreamed of maybe reaching the Arctic Circle.

Air Canada gave them vouchers each for $10 per meal, so they went back and forth to the Tim Hortons and newsstand.

Last week, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau announced in an email to customers that it will have to cancel more than 150 flights a day in July and August due to “unprecedented and unforeseen tensions” in the global airline industry.

“Despite detailed and careful planning, the largest and fastest scale of hiring in our history, as well as investments in aircraft and equipment, it is now clear that Air Canada’s operations have also been disrupted by the industry’s complex and unavoidable challenges,” he said. Rousseau. †

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It’s because airlines in Europe and the US are also canceling hundreds of flights, just as people are eager to travel again after COVID-19 lockdowns kept them from going on vacation.

The teens kept in touch with their families, who kept the precarious situation in perspective.

The children are happy to go on an adventure together and the parents have confidence in the group organizers, said Mathieu Robitaille and Rachel Corbeil, whose 16-year-old daughter Noemie is on the trip.

However, they were outraged at Air Canada’s initial negligence and are still concerned that the group may reach Whitehorse to cancel only return flights.

“They said everything was booked, so there was nothing they could do but get permission to sleep at the airport,” said Robitaille. “How’s that for customer service premium!? What the hell can you do with $10 a meal in an airport?”

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On Sunday afternoon, St-Pierre said they couldn’t rent vans and Air Canada offered to accommodate the group in a hotel in Vancouver for the next few days. They will look around Wednesday evening and return to YVR. There was also the possibility of a flight on Monday.

The group will fly home from Whitehorse to Quebec City on Sunday, July 10.

“If our flight doesn’t work, we’re going to ask for a refund and go back to Quebec or ask to sleep in a hotel for the last days of our trip,” he added.

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